But Greenland is not stabilizing in a world that continues to warm, of course, and the rate of loss is expected to increase. The researchers looked at a future scenario where climate change halts at about 2°C of total warming, comparing it to a scenario of much higher greenhouse gas emissions that produce 4°C or more. Calculating the average rates of loss for the 21st century, they find a span of 8,800 to 35,900 billion tons lost per century for this area—far surpassing anything in the last 12,000 years. And the researchers note that their model tends to simulate smaller future losses than some others do, so that might be conservative.
The researchers conclude, “Our results suggest that the rate of mass loss from the GIS [Greenland ice sheet] this century will be unprecedented in the context of natural GIS variability over the past 12,000 years, unless a low-carbon-emission scenario is followed.”
Lower emissions even than the 2ºC warming scenario, that is. For context, current emissions pledges would likely get us something around 3ºC warming this century.
Greenland is like our canary in the coal mine: We’re inside watching the little bird gasping and twitching with its last breathe, and half of us are saying run, run, get out of here, and other half are saying, well wait, didn’t you see those vultures circling back when we entered the mine? They seem fine out there, so that makes it fine in here. Look, I even brought this snowball into the mine and it’s not even melted yet. We’re fine! Let’s strip the Earth bare and make a fortune.