CryoSat-2 Maps Recent Ice Loss from Greenland

Dr Mal McMillan from UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds is lead author on a new paper that maps the detailed pattern of recent ice loss from Greenland Ice Sheet.

Between 2011 and 2014, Greenland lost around one trillion tonnes of ice. This corresponds to a 0.75mm contribution to global sea-level rise each year – about twice the average of the preceding two decades.

The study, recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, combines data from the CryoSat-2 mission with a regional climate model to map changes in Greenland ice-sheet mass. This reveals the detailed spatial pattern of ice loss, and shows large year-to-year variations in the amount of ice that has melted.

Dr McMillan stated that “CryoSat-2's radar really brings into focus our view of the ice sheet, revealing which glaciers are exhibiting the greatest signs of change. This helps us to study Greenland's individual outlet glaciers, which in turn allows us to better understand the contribution they have made to global sea-level rise.”