The scientists from The University Centre in Svalbard, Norway, ran a series of simulation models to predict for a first time the behaviour of Greenland‘s outlet glaciers. They established that these ice river drain in pulses, explaining the dramatic ice loss over the past decade.
According to the lead author of the study, Faezeh Nick, the four different scenarios that represent the fate of the glaciers indicate that natural processes such as fjords and increased iceberg production will eventually cause of retreat. The geologist, however, warns that this retreat does not mean that the loss of ice will stop.
The author also points out that although glacier melts respond to temperature warming scenarios, it is wrong to judge what will happen in the next 100 years based on only 10 years of data.
The idea of the study was initiated by the raising fears from increased Greenland glacier melt over the past years. The results show that by 2200, in the worst case scenario, the loss will rise with up to 50%, which equals about 1.2 to 1.9 inches, or 29 to 49 mm, while a more modest estimate shows an increase of a maximum of 1.2 inches, or 30 millimetres.
The findings were based on computer simulations of four Greenland glaciers, which were modelled according to different scenarios that could happen due to climate change. The team included factors such as warmer oceans and air temperatures, sea ice and rock walls, among others.
It is important to note, that although the model indicates a slow down in ice melting due to the unique shape of the fjords, the authors emphasise that extreme weather warming could well make the glacier water pass through and cause melting.