Will AWS collapse in the near future

Sea level rise of 7 meters

Once this threshold is exceeded, the entire ice sheet could melt completely over hundreds or thousands of years. The global sea level could rise by 7 meters, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) collapse. The system, also known as the North Atlantic Current, which extends the Gulf Stream to Europe, is responsible for the relative warmth on both sides of the North Atlantic.

So much for the most pessimistic scenario. But there are also feedbacks that could stabilize the Greenland ice sheet at medium heights, especially through increasing accumulation, the researchers believe. "We urgently need to better understand the interplay between the various positive and negative feedback mechanisms that determine the current stability and future development of the ice sheet," says Boers.

Irreversible ice loss

At least the central-western part of the Greenland ice sheet is approaching a critical temperature threshold. How this affects the ice sheet as a whole is unclear. The researchers want to collect more observations and improve their understanding of the mechanisms so that more reliable estimates can be made about the future development of the Greenland ice sheet.

"Regardless of the exact interaction of the various feedbacks, we would have to lower the temperatures well below the pre-industrial level in order to return to the ice sheet height of the last centuries," demands Boers. The current and expected mass loss of the ice in the near future will be largely irreversible. "It is therefore high time we quickly and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and stabilize the ice sheet and our climate again."


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