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At the contentious interface of climate science and policy, there’s one thing that people of all flavors agree upon: if Greenland were to shed all its ice in a century that would be an unmitigated catastrophe, raising sea levels an average of 22 feet simply from the sheer volume of water contained thereon.
The Economist wrote two alarming articles on this, read one quote below:
The most worrying changes are happening in Greenland, which lost an average of 375bn tonnes of ice per year between 2011 and 2014.”
This is a finely selected cherry that The Economist plucked. 2012 was an exceedingly warm year averaged over the island-continent. Had they included all the recent data, they would have shown that the surface mass balance budget of ice on Greenland recently reached a record high compared to the previous three decade. This is simply the accumulation of ice and snow minus losses from melting and and sublimation (the direct evaporation of snow), and you can see how unusual 2012 was in the figure below. The net ice loss is the accumulation minus the calving of glaciers, which, according to the Danish Meteorological institute (DMI) is about 200 gigatonnes (billion metric tons) per year.
Most Economist readers aren’t aware of the true nature of the literature on Greenland’s ice and don’t have a friendly climatologist to supply them the important links The Economist didn’t. No wonder so many are worried.