Global sea levels may increase by 10 inches, zombie ice from Greenland to blame, finds study

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Zombie ice is basically doomed ice that, while still attached to thicker areas of ice, is no longer getting replenished by parent glaciers now receiving less snow.

A boat navigates at night next to large icebergs in eastern Greenland. (File photo: AFP)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet will eventually raise global sea level by at least 10.6 inches
  • The 10 inches rise predicted is more than twice as much scientists had previously expected from the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet
  • The study was published in a journal called Nature Climate Change

Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet will eventually raise global sea level by at least 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) — more than twice as much as previously forecast — according to a study published Monday.

That’s because of something that could be called zombie ice. That’s doomed ice that, while still attached to thicker areas of ice, is no longer getting replenished by parent glaciers now receiving less snow. Without replenishment, the doomed ice is melting from climate change and will inevitably raise seas, said study co-author William Colgan, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

“It’s dead ice. It’s just going to melt and disappear from the ice sheet,” Colgan said in an interview. “This ice has been consigned to the ocean, regardless of what climate (emissions) scenario we take now.”

Study lead author Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Greenland survey, said it is “more like one foot in the grave.”

The unavoidable ten inches in the study is more than twice as much sea level rise as scientists had previously expected from the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. The study in the journal Nature Climate Change said it could reach as much as 30 inches (78 centimeters). By contrast, last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report projected a range of 2 to 5 inches (6 to 13 centimeters) for likely sea level rise from Greenland ice melt by the year 2100.

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