Forty-six years of #Greenland #IceSheet #mass balance from 1972 to 2018 (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, abstract)

[Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Forty-six years of Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance from 1972 to 2018

Jérémie Mouginot, Eric Rignot, Anders A. Bjørk, Michiel van den Broeke, Romain Millan, Mathieu Morlighem, Brice Noël, Bernd Scheuchl, and Michael Wood

PNAS first published April 22, 2019 / DOI:

Edited by Mark H. Thiemens, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, and approved March 20, 2019 (received for review July 31, 2018)



We reconstruct the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet for the past 46 years by comparing glacier ice discharge into the ocean with interior accumulation of snowfall from regional atmospheric climate models over 260 drainage basins. The mass balance started to deviate from its natural range of variability in the 1980s. The mass loss has increased sixfold since the 1980s. Greenland has raised sea level by 13.7 mm since 1972, half during the last 8 years.



We reconstruct the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet using a comprehensive survey of thickness, surface elevation, velocity, and surface mass balance (SMB) of 260 glaciers from 1972 to 2018. We calculate mass discharge, D, into the ocean directly for 107 glaciers (85% of D) and indirectly for 110 glaciers (15%) using velocity-scaled reference fluxes. The decadal mass balance switched from a mass gain of +47 ± 21 Gt/y in 1972–1980 to a loss of 51 ± 17 Gt/y in 1980–1990. The mass loss increased from 41 ± 17 Gt/y in 1990–2000, to 187 ± 17 Gt/y in 2000–2010, to 286 ± 20 Gt/y in 2010–2018, or sixfold since the 1980s, or 80 ± 6 Gt/y per decade, on average. The acceleration in mass loss switched from positive in 2000–2010 to negative in 2010–2018 due to a series of cold summers, which illustrates the difficulty of extrapolating short records into longer-term trends. Cumulated since 1972, the largest contributions to global sea level rise are from northwest (4.4 ± 0.2 mm), southeast (3.0 ± 0.3 mm), and central west (2.0 ± 0.2 mm) Greenland, with a total 13.7 ± 1.1 mm for the ice sheet. The mass loss is controlled at 66 ± 8% by glacier dynamics (9.1 mm) and 34 ± 8% by SMB (4.6 mm). Even in years of high SMB, enhanced glacier discharge has remained sufficiently high above equilibrium to maintain an annual mass loss every year since 1998.

Greenland – glaciology – sea level – climate change – glaciers

Keywords: Climate Change; Global Warming; Greenland.


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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum ( in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.