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Greenland ice loss much faster than expected

10 December 2019

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The Greenland ice sheet is losing mass seven times faster than in the 1990s, according to new research.

A paper published today in Nature details how an international team of 89 polar scientists, working in collaboration with ESA and NASA, has produced the most complete picture of Greenland ice loss to date.

They estimate that Greenland lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2018 – enough to push global sea level up by 10.6 millimetres. Over the study period, the rate of ice loss was found to have increased seven-fold from 33 billion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 254 billion tonnes per year in the last decade.

The Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE), led by Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds and Erik Ivins at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, compared and combined data from 11 satellites – including ESA's ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and CryoSat missions, as well as the EU's Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 missions – to monitor changes in the ice sheet's volume, flow and gravity.

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