Melting Greenland ice has already caused a 1.2 centimeter sea level rise

The island's ice sheet has lost about 4,700 gigatonnes since 2002, satellite measurements found.

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Melted ice flows in the Nuuk fjord in Greenland. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet has contributed 1.2 centimeters to the global sea level rise in just under 20 years, according to a monitor. (DPA via Reuters)

COPENHAGEN — The melting of the Greenland ice sheet has contributed 1.2 centimeters to the global sea level rise in just under 20 years, according to a monitor.

The Greenland ice sheet has lost around 4,700 gigatonnes since measurements began in April 2002, enough to submerge the entire United States by half a meter. That’s according to satellite data collected up to August 2021 from the GRACE and GRACE-Follow-On programs — joint U.S.-German satellite research efforts.

[Scientists using satellites just got a much clearer picture of how fast Greenland’s ice sheet is melting]

The data indicates that the ice is melting, especially on Greenland’s west coast, the Danish Polar Portal tweeted this week. One gigatonne is the equivalent of 1 billion tonnes.

The Greenland ice sheet covers a good four-fifths of the total area of the largest island on Earth. Only the Antarctic ice sheet is larger.

The Polar Portal is a platform where Danish Arctic research institutions present findings on the state of the Greenland ice sheet and sea ice.

Greenland is an autonomous country, within the Kingdom of Denmark. The island is particularly affected by climate change, as the Arctic has already warmed significantly more than any other region on earth.