The result of an international scientific paper, based on data and models from
the Danish Meteorological Institute, is suggesting that an eventual meltdown
of Greenland’s ice-cap is almost unavoidable.
According to the model used in a paper published in the Journal of
Hydrometeorology, irrespective of how much CO2 emissions are limited,
Greenland will reach a point of no return in 2040 at the latest.
“This is a very worrying result as it shows that melting can go a lot quicker
than we normally think,” says one of the report’s co-authors, Jens
The report, entitled “Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Mass-Balance Modeling in a
131-Yr Perspective, 1950–2080” and prepared by research centres at the
University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Colorado and the Danish
Meteorological Institute says that the ice-cap mass balance: “was close to
equilibrium during the relatively cold 1970s and 1980s and lost mass rapidly
as the climate warmed in the 1990s and 2000s with no indication of
“It is essential to predict and assess the impact of future climate on the
Greenland Ice Sheet (GRIS), which is believed to be influenced by human
activities. We must establish the present and future state of the GrIS
surface melt extent and surface mass balance, including freshwater flux,to
detect warning signs indicative of its future response,” the report says.
After 2040, on a time scale of 1,000 years ahead, it will not be possible for
the giant Greenland ice-cap to be re-created and return to current levels.
“Over the next 30 years the amount of snowfall will not compensate for
melting,” Hesselbjerg Christensen tells pol.dk adding: “Based on our model,
I would almost say that the point of no return has already been passed. Our
result shows in principle that permanent meltdown is unavoidable.”
Hesselbjerg Christensen is head of Denmark’s Climate Centre and is a co-author
of the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on
regional climate change.
He says, however, that according to the model it will take more than 1,000
years before the Greenland ice-cap has more or less disappeared.
“If Greenland’s ice-cap melted completely, it would result in a 6-7 metre
increase in world sea levels,” Hesselbjerg Christensen says.