Greenland’s Climate Change Crisis

As a deadly threat to our planet, climate change is a matter studied in great depth. “For many scientists, Greenland is considered ‘ground zero’ for climate change, a place where global warming’s impact is most apparent”2 which makes it an important place to observe and discuss when displaying its effects and prominent features.

Greenland is located above one of the largest masses of ice in the Northern Hemisphere. If this mass were to melt completely, many low lying cities would be submerged in water (i.e New York City, Shanghai, and Amsterdam) because of the rise in sea level by approximately 20 feet (7 meters). The entire mass melting is extremely unlikely, however, it is one of the main reasons—along with it being an arctic environment and being susceptible to rapid change— as to why Greenland is the place to study when it comes to climate change.

Researchers also proved Greenland has lost colossal amounts of ice in the past 30 years. “Using data from the Grace and Grace-FO satellites, as well as climate models, the authors conclude that across the full year Greenland lost 532 gigatonnes of ice - a significant increase on 2012. The researchers say the loss is the equivalent of adding 1.5 millimeters to global mean sea levels, approximately 40% of the average rise in one year.”3 Rising waters could cause the collapse of many low-lying coastal cities, and will only prove to have negative effects on the way humans live.

An unforeseen outcome of the rapidly melting glaciers is a pick-up in tourism to the island. The mindset people seem to have, according to NBC News, is “see Greenland before the ice melts.”3 While tourism helps spread awareness about the climate crisis and aids in “modernizing” its cities, it will hurt the country more in the long run. Traveling by plane and ocean liners further pollute the air and water, and with the spike in tourism, effects of this are bound to be clear by 2030.

At the current rate, the environment is going to reach “the point of no return” in about seven years, according to coastal scientists. To continue to thrive on this planet, steps must be taken to protect it, including studying and aiding Greenland with its current crisis.


Citations

  1. Bamber, Johnathan. “Greenland's Ice Sheet Could Melt at a Rate Not Seen in the Last 130,000 Years.” World Economic Forum, 20 Nov. 2020, www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/greenland-melting-climate-change-worry-environment/

  2. Chow, Denise. “An Island Imperiled: climate change Threatens Greenland - and Its Way of Life.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 18 Sept. 2019, www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/island-imperiled-climate-change-threatens-greenland-its-way-life-ncna1054921

  3. McGrath, Matt. “climate change: 'Unprecedented' Ice Loss as Greenland Breaks Record.” BBC News, BBC, 20 Aug. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53849695

  4. Streiff, Lara. “NASA Finds What a Glacier's Slope Reveals About Greenland Ice Sheet Thinning – climate change: Vital Signs of the Planet.” NASA, NASA, 21 Dec. 2020, climate.nasa.gov/news/3056/nasa-finds-what-a-glaciers-slope-reveals-about-greenland-ice-sheet-thinning/

  5. Tandon, Ayesha. “New Climate Models Suggest Faster Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.” Carbon Brief, 21 Dec. 2020, 4:00 pm, www.carbonbrief.org/new-climate-models-suggest-faster-melting-of-the-greenland-ice-sheet

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