October 8, 2013
The mass of the Greenland ice sheet has rapidly been declining over the last several years due to surface melting and iceberg calving. Research based on observations from NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites indicates that between 2003 and 2013, Greenland shed approximately 280 gigatons of ice per year, causing global sea level to rise by 0.8 millimeters per year. These images, created with GRACE data, show changes in Greenland ice mass since 2003. Orange and red shades indicate areas that lost ice mass, while light blue shades indicate areas that gained ice mass. White indicates areas where there has been very little or no change in ice mass since 2003. In general, higher-elevation areas near the center of Greenland experienced little to no change, while lower-elevation and coastal areas experienced up to 3 meters of ice mass loss (dark red) over a ten-year period. The largest mass decreases of up to 30 centimeters per year occurred over southeastern Greenland.