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Greenland ice sheet

Indicator Specification Created 11 Jul 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 07 Oct 2013, 04:26 PM
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Update planned for November 2012

Contents
 

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Justification for indicator selection

The ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contain 98-99 % of the freshwater ice on earth's surface. To illustrate their sizes, the volumes of the Antarctic and Greenlandic ice sheets are equivalent to a 57 and 7 m layer, respectively, of water on top of the world's oceans. When setting their upper estimate of a projected 59 cm sea-level rise by the end of this century, the IPCC did not take into account increased discharges into the ocean from the moving outlet glaciers of the ice sheets. The uncertainty about their future is therefore a main reason for uncertainties in projections of sea-level rise. The Greenland ice sheet is the most susceptible to warming because of its closeness to the Atlantic Ocean and other continents. But the more isolated Antarctica now also seems to be experiencing a net loss of ice, which may be accelerating (UNEP, 2007) (See indicator on sea-level rise. 
The speed of ice loss is important as well as its magnitude because a faster rise in sea level reduces the time available to take appropriate adaptation measures.
The melt water from Greenland will contribute to reducing the salinity of the surrounding ocean. An upper layer of fresher water may reduce the formation of dense deep water, one of the mechanisms driving global ocean circulation.

Scientific references:

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

  • Estimated changes of the ice mass in Greenland 1992-2006
  • Area of Greenland ice sheet melting 1979-2007

Units

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp37-75CC2008_ch5-1to4_Athmosphere_and-_cryosphere.pdf

Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm

Targets

No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp37-75CC2008_ch5-1to4_Athmosphere_and-_cryosphere.pdf

Methodology for gap filling

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Data sets uncertainty

http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea_report_2008_4/pp193-207CC2008_ch8_Data_gaps.pdf

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Hans-Martin Füssel

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CLIM 009
Specification
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change

Permalinks

Permalink to this version
a2313f2713b9db04aa41477f8e79c3a1
Permalink to latest version
7AUWEC35YT

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 4 years

Classification

DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Geographic coverage

Comments

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Phone: +45 3336 7100