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Greenland and our rising sea levels

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The Greenland Ice Sheet, a huge expanse of ice at the far reaches of our planet, may feel remote and inaccessible – alien even – when we think about it. Despite this, just small amounts of ice melt will have, and in fact are already having, a significant impact on people who live near the coast across the world.

If all of Greenlands ice were all to melt, it would raise global sea levels by 7 metres.

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The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting

Greenland is the largest island in the world: covered in ice, thick enough in places to bury mountains, it is roughly 10 times the size of the UK. If all of its ice were all to melt, Greenland would raise global sea levels by 7 metres. Although this will not happen for thousands of years at least – Greenland’s ice is declining now, and faster than we expected. Thanks to satellite observations of Greenland’s changing thickness, flow and gravity, we know it has lost almost 4 trillion tonnes of ice in the past 25 years alone. It can be hard to imagine how much ice that actually is – if you put it all into a single ice block it would be 16 kilometres along each side, and twice the height of Mount Everest!

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Dr Tom Slater
Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the University of Leeds

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