© Marco Tedesco / WWF

Greenland ice sheet melt a "sleeping giant"

7 December 2018

Arctic Climate Change Greenland Pan-Arctic Ocean

A study released this week in the journal Nature found that that ice sheet covering most of Greenland is melting at an "exceptional" rate.

The researchers analysed ice cores and found that surface melting across the mile-thick ice sheet increased in the 19th century as human activity started to warm the climate, ramped up in the 20th and early 21st centuries, and is showing no signs of abating.

Peter Winsor, Director WWF Arctic Programme, said:
“This emerging research shows how climate change is impacting the Arctic at an accelerated pace. The Greenland ice sheet plays a critical role in global climate by influencing sea level rise. Perhaps even more alarming is that the increased runoff into the ocean has the potential to disrupt ocean circulation and affect the climates in Europe and the globe. It is critical that leaders gathered in Poland take dramatic action to slow the current rate of climate change and keeping warming to 1.5 C.”

Martin Sommerkorn, Head of Conservation WWF Arctic Programme, said:
“This is a stark reminder that the one degree of global warming humans have already caused through emissions of fossil fuel is creating dramatic changes to key elements of the Arctic and the planet. We will be living with the consequences for centuries and millennia, but if the countries of the world ambitiously scale up ambitions at the current COP negotiations in Poland we can slow the rate of change and stick to reducing warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Rod Downie, Chief Polar Advisor at WWF, said:
'”We are waking a sleeping giant as a result of climate change. The Greenland ice sheet is the largest in the northern hemisphere. What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic. It's on the UKs doorstep and it affects us all.

As government representatives from around the world meet in Poland this week, this is a timely reminder that we need to make deep and rapid cuts to our carbon emissions for the future of our planet.”