Former UK chief scientist Sir David King says he was scared by the faster-than-expected pace of climate-related changes.
One of the most shocking examples this year of the extreme events Sir David spoke of was surely the record ice melt in Greenland.
In June, temperatures soared well above normal levels in the Danish territory, causing about half its ice sheet surface to experience some melting. As David Shukman reported on his trip to the region, during 2019 alone, it lost enough ice to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimetre.
Underlining the rapid nature of the change, he returned to a glacier he had filmed in 2004 to find that it had thinned by as much as 100m over the period.
“The simple formula is that around the planet, six million people are brought into a flooding situation for every centimetre of sea-level rise.”Prof Andy Shepherd, Leeds University
Greenland’s ice sheet stores so much frozen water that if the whole of it melted, it would raise sea levels worldwide by up to 7m. Although that would take hundreds or thousands of years, polar scientists told the American Geophysical Union meeting in December that Greenland was losing its ice seven times faster than in the 1990s.