Greenland's ice is melting at an 'unprecedented rate'

'Off the charts': Scientists sound alarm over Greenland ice melt

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at its fastest rate in 350 years

Surface melting across Greenland's mile-thick ice sheet began increasing in the mid-19th Century.

"What we found with our ice cores is that it's melting today more than at any time within at least the last three and a half centuries", he said, "and probably, melting more today than any time in the last seven to eight thousand years".

Trusel's team of worldwide researchers analyzed ice cores extracted from Greenland, a massive island wedged between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

Study lead author Luke Trusel, of Rowan University in New Jersey, US, said: 'Melting of the ice sheet has gone into overdrive.

The study confirms ice loss from Greenland is one of the main factors contributing to the sea level rise.

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"From a historical perspective, today's melt rates are off the charts, and this study provides the evidence to prove this" Sarah Das, a glaciologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and coauthor of the study, said.

Today, Greenland's ice sheets are melting at a rate 50% higher than pre-industrial levels and 33% above 20th-century levels, the scientists found.

Melting ice in Greenland, home to the second largest mass of ice after Antarctica, is thought to add 0.8 millimetres of water to global ocean levels annually, more than any other region, according to NASA. This gave a record of past melt intensity going back to the 17th century.

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Global warming is melting ice in Greenland at "unprecedented rates", experts warned. This breakthrough allowed the team to reconstruct meltwater runoff at the lower-elevation edges of the ice sheet-the areas that contribute to sea level rise. Across the ice sheet, melting was more rapid in 2012 than any other year and the most recent decade included in the ice core-analysis, 2004-2013, experienced "a more sustained and greater magnitude of melt than any other 10-year period" in the 350-year record, the scientists wrote.

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Satellite methods to understand melting rates have only been around in recent decades, so the ability to go back further in time was important.

Commenting on the report, Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at the World Wildlife Fund said: "If governments don't radically up their green ambitions, we're facing a future without coral reefs or Arctic summer ice, where food shortages, floods and fires are part of our everyday reality".

The researchers also warned that Greenland, which locks up the equivalent of around 30ft (7m) of sea level rise, is becoming more sensitive to warming than it was in the past. "So the ice sheet's response to human-caused warming has been non-linear".

Additional co-authors are: Matthew B. Osman, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography; Matthew J. Evans, Wheaton College; Ben E. Smith, University of Washington; Xavier Fettweis, University of Leige; Joseph R. McConnell, Desert Research Institute; and Brice P.Y. Noël and and Michiel R. van den Broeke Utrecht University.

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