Greenland's ice shelves have shrunk by more than a THIRD since 1978 - and will ... trends now

Greenland's ice shelves have shrunk by more than a THIRD since 1978 - and will ... trends now
Greenland's ice shelves have shrunk by more than a THIRD since 1978 - and will ... trends now

Greenland's ice shelves have shrunk by more than a THIRD since 1978 - and will ... trends now

Greenland's ice shelves have lost more than a third of their volume since 1978, researchers have warned. 

Warm ocean waters have accelerated the disintegration of the vital ice shelves, melting them from beneath and increasing their risk of collapse. 

Of the eight ice shelves which support North Greenland's vast glaciers, three have already collapsed completely, while the remaining five have rapidly retreated.

As the ocean continues to warm, scientists say the ice shelves will continue to retreat - with severe consequences for global sea levels.

If these disappear entirely, these ice shelves could release enough water to raise global sea levels by 6.8ft (2.1m), according to experts from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). 

Scientists warn that Greenland's eight floating ice shelves have shrunk by over 35 per cent since 1978 with three ice shelves collapsing completely

Scientists warn that Greenland's eight floating ice shelves have shrunk by over 35 per cent since 1978 with three ice shelves collapsing completely 

Satellite images show Ostenfeld ice shelf as it completely collapsed between 2003 and 2010

Satellite images show Ostenfeld ice shelf as it completely collapsed between 2003 and 2010

Greenland's ice shelves were previously believed to be stable, unlike the more sensitive regions of the Polar Ice Cap.

However, scientists used field observations, aerial photography, satellite data, and regional climate models to show that the ice shelves have undergone a rapidly accelerating collapse. 

Since the 2000s, the floating ice shelves of Zachariæ Isstrøm, Ostenfeld and Hagen Brae glaciers have completely collapsed.

In 2003, 80 per cent of the Ostenfeld ice shelf collapsed into the sea, losing 6.5 cubic miles (27 cubic km) of ice.

Likewise, Hagen Bræ collapsed between 2001 and 2005, leaving a little more than a tenth of its original mass behind. 

Greenland's vast glaciers, highlighted here in green, meet the sea by passing through a number of fjords where the ice shelves act like frozen dams

Greenland's vast glaciers, highlighted here in green, meet the sea by passing through a number of fjords where the ice shelves act like frozen dams

Hagen Bræ ice shelf went from being relatively stable in the 1980s to totally collapsing, after beginning to lose mass in the 2000s

Hagen Bræ ice shelf went from being relatively stable in the 1980s to totally collapsing, after beginning to lose mass in the 2000s

The Greenland Ice Sheet

One of two continent-scale ice masses on Earth, the Greenland Ice Sheet is the largest body of ice in the Northern Hemisphere.

Almost 80 per cent of Greenland's landmass is covered with ice.

It covers an area of 656,400 square miles (1.7 million square km), yet only meets the sea in a few areas where glaciers travel down fjords. 

If the entire ice sheet were to melt sea levels may rise up to 24ft, although experts say this is a highly unlikely scenario.

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The other remaining ice shelves have also thinned and shrunk rapidly, with some retreating up to five miles (8.3km). 

The danger of these collapses is that they will increase the rate at which ice enters the ocean, which could have an enormous impact on sea levels. 

The ice shelves function like giant frozen dams, which hold back the glaciers from entering the sea.

Greenland is already responsible 17.3 per cent of the rise in sea levels between 2006 and 2018.

However, the glaciers of North Greenland are hosting enough ice to raise sea level by 6.6 feet (2.1 meters).

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