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Greenland lost a trillion tons of ice in four years.

Greenland lost a trillion tons of ice in four years. new paper just published by scientists in Geophysical Research Letters presents results of their investigation into the ice sheet covering Greenland. They found that over the four-year period from Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2014 Greenland lost over a trillion tons of ice.

Let me repeat that: More than a trillion tons of ice melted away from Greenland.

These results, using the Cryosat-2 satellite, actually matches pretty well with other measurements made using different methods; for example, using data from the GRACE satellites scientists found Greenland loses ice at a rate of about 287 billion tons per year.

These numbers are staggering. To give you a sense of scale: A trillion tons of ice would make a cube over 10 kilometers (six miles) on a side. That’s taller than Mt. Everest, and would have about three times that mountain’s volume. And that much ice disappeared from Greenland in just four years. 

But no, really, it didn’t disappear. It had to go somewhere. And where it went was into the ocean, adding water to it. Distributed over the Earth, that means sea level rose about 2.5 mm over those four years. That rate of sea level rise from Greenland ice melting was twice as rapid as the average rate from 1992-2011. I’ll note that 2012 was unusual across the Arctic, with far more warming than usual, less snow cover than usual, huge sea ice losses, and higher loss of Greenland land ice as well. But even with that, the trend is, dare I say, alarming. read more at