Greenland is going green. Why is this bad news?

(CNN) — A study published Tuesday shows that the area of ​​Greenland’s ice that has melted over the past three decades is about 36 times the size of New York City, land that is rapidly giving way to wetlands and bushland.

The amount of vegetation in Greenland doubled between the mid-1980s and mid-2010, as many parts of the country previously covered with ice and snow were transformed into barren rock, wetlands or bush areas. Wetlands alone quadrupled over that period.

Analyzing satellite images, scientists found that Greenland has lost 28,707 square kilometers of ice over three decades, and warned of a wide range of impacts that could have serious consequences for climate change and rising sea levels.

Russell Glacier, near Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland.  Wetlands and bushes are growing in places where there used to be snow and ice.  (Credit: Jonathan Carrwick/University of Leeds)

Russell Glacier, near Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland. Wetlands and bushes are growing in places where there used to be snow and ice. (Credit: Jonathan Carrwick/University of Leeds)

View of Baudouin Fjord in Qaanaaq, northwest Greenland.  The loss of ice has exposed barren rocks in some parts of the country.  (Credit: Mark Smith/University of Leeds)

View of Baudouin Fjord in Qaanaaq, northwest Greenland. The loss of ice has exposed barren rocks in some parts of the country. (Credit: Mark Smith/University of Leeds)

Due to increasing air temperature the ice is melting, resulting in increase in the temperature of the earth. This has caused the melting of permafrost, a frozen layer just beneath the Earth’s surface found across much of the Arctic, and that melting releases carbon dioxide and methane that warm the planet, further contributing to global warming. Contributes. Melting of permafrost is also causing instability in the area, which could affect infrastructure and buildings.

“We see signs that ice loss is triggering other reactions that will result in ice loss and further ‘greening’ of Greenland, where the shrinking ice exposes bare rock that is later colonized by tundra. ” and, finally, by shrubs,” Cariwick, one of the authors of the Jonathan report, said in a news release. “At the same time, water from melting ice displaces sediment and silt, ultimately creating wetlands and marshes. Is.”

The loss of ice is creating what is known as a feedback loop. Snow and ice often reflect the Sun’s energy back into space, preventing excessive heating in some parts of the Earth. But as the ice disappears, those areas absorb more solar energy, causing the Earth’s surface temperature to rise, which can cause more ice to melt and have other negative effects.

Melting snow also increases the amount of water in lakes, where water absorbs more heat than ice, increasing land surface temperatures.

Brown sediment on melting ice near Kangerlussuaq in Greenland.  The rapid melting of the ice is having many effects on Greenland's landscape, including sedimentation of its waters.  (Credit: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Brown sediment on melting ice near Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. The rapid melting of the ice is having many effects on Greenland’s landscape, including sedimentation of its waters. (Credit: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Greenland is warming at twice the global average since the 1970s, and the study’s authors warn that more extreme temperatures are likely in the future.

Greenland is the largest island in the world and most of it is covered with ice and glaciers. About 57,000 people live in the country, which is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. The majority of the population is indigenous and many of its inhabitants depend on natural ecosystems for survival.

Michael Grimes, lead author of the report, said the flow of sediment and nutrients into coastal waters is particularly problematic for indigenous communities who depend on fishing, as well as for hunters elsewhere on the island.

“These changes are significant, especially for indigenous populations whose traditional subsistence hunting practices depend on the sustainability of these fragile ecosystems,” he said.

“In addition, the loss of ice mass in Greenland contributes significantly to sea level rise worldwide, a trend that poses significant challenges both now and in the future.”

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