‘Zombie Ice’ Will Significantly Raise Sea Levels, Scientists Warn

Aug 31, 2022

Greenland Melt Days in 2022

Climate change resulting from the burning of fossil fuels will raise global sea levels by at least 10 inches over the course of this century. That's according to a new study of Greenland’s glaciers. Why?

Zombie ice.

The name refers to chunks of ice around the edges of Greenland’s ice sheet. The ice is no longer getting the snow needed to replenish itself. The ice is also called “doomed ice” or “dead ice.” Zombie ice cannot be replaced as it melts into the surrounding ocean.

The 10-inch rise in sea levels more than doubles previous predictions and is more accurately calculated, scientists say. That’s because the data comes from 20 years of measurements. The numbers aren't estimates. The scientists looked at changes in the ice sheet’s snow line over time. Each year, researchers look at the edge of the glacier. They determine where the snow is able to reach and renew the ice. That line has withdrawn over the past 10 years. The study’s authors say there is little that can be done to stop it.

“Even if the whole world stopped burning fossil fuels today,” scientists at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland wrote, “the Greenland Ice Sheet would still lose about 110 quadrillion tonnes (121 quadrillion tons) of ice leading to an average of global sea level rise of at least 27 centimeters.”

Rising sea levels greatly concern scientists, environmentalists, and others. Higher seas lead to more storm surges, flooding, erosion of beaches, and damage to coastal areas. Some islands have lost dozens of miles of land due to erosion in recent decades.

Based on information in the infographic, the majority of Greenland’s cumulative melt days last for _______ days. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. 0-30
b. 30-50
c. 50-70
d. 80 or more
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