Greenland’s Ice Sheet: A 27-Year Long Tale of Loss and What It Means for Us

Greenland’s Ice Sheet: A 27-Year Long Tale of Loss and What It Means for Us

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, Greenland’s ice sheet has suffered a net loss for the 27th consecutive year, presenting us with a multifaceted problem that extends beyond the realm of scientific inquiry [1]. Despite fluctuations in melt rates and an increase in snowfall, particularly in late spring and early summer, the overall trend remains one that cannot be ignored [2].

The Mechanisms Behind Melting

Both the heightened rates of melt and increased precipitation are part and parcel of a changing global climate. The warmer atmospheric conditions lead to increased rates of evaporation and subsequently, greater levels of precipitation. As a result, Greenland’s ice sheet continues to lose more ice than it gains, even during periods of increased snowfall [3].

Crunching the Numbers

While late 2022 did see considerable snowfall, leading to a delayed start to the 2023 melt season, the accumulated mass was unable to compensate for the year’s losses. The net loss stands at an alarming 196 billion tonnes (Gt) of ice, further emphasising the gravity of the situation [4].

The Surface Mass Balance (SMB) for the year—accounting for gains through snowfall and losses through surface runoff and evaporation—was about 398 Gt. While this figure is more in line with historical averages, it doesn’t mitigate the continued loss of ice. [5]

Global Ramifications

Greenland’s ice sheet is more than a geographic feature; it’s a ticking time bomb with global ramifications. The potential contribution to rising sea levels is estimated at 274 mm, a number that remains largely unchanged irrespective of future climate actions. This is not merely a problem on paper; it’s a looming crisis that threatens coastal communities, economies, and critical infrastructures across the globe. [1]

A Call to Action for Multiple Sectors

Public Sector: Governments must adapt climate-resilient policies, incorporating the latest scientific research into planning and infrastructure. Investments in renewable energy sources and emissions reduction are imperative.

Business and Industry: The corporate world needs to transition to sustainable practices, scrutinising supply chains for their environmental impact, and adopting circular economy principles.

A Solution to Fight Climate Change and Empower Businesses

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We are not just about cost-saving; we are a climate action tool. Companies adopting Clearvolt’s model are making a measurable impact on their carbon footprint and, in turn, boosting their ESG credentials. Additionally, the model may pave the way for improved EPC ratings of business’ premises and offer tax benefits through capital allowances.

Technology’s Role in Understanding the Crisis

Advancements in satellite technology, such as the GRACE satellite, offer more accurate data. This enables scientists to make more precise predictions, which should serve as our guiding light for policy and action.

While the alarm bells have been ringing for years, the comprehensive data we now possess must serve as a catalyst for widespread change. It’s time to move beyond awareness into a phase of active intervention.

We find ourselves at a juncture where the decisions we make today will significantly affect our future. As professionals, policymakers, and global citizens, the onus is on us to turn the tide.


  1. (2019). Greenland Ice Sheet Today | Surface Melt Data presented by NSIDC. [online] Available at:
  2. Goodess, C., Kossin, J., Luo, Y., Paul, M. and Della-Marta (2012). Asgeir Sorteberg (Norway), Carolina Vera (Argentina). [online] Boris Orlowsky. Declan Conway. Available at:
  3. National Snow and Ice Data Center. (n.d.). Why Ice Sheets Matter. [online] Available at:
  4. Anon, (n.d.). January | 2023 | Greenland/Antarctica Ice Sheet Today. [online] Available at:
  5. Lemke, P., Alley, R., Allison, I., Carrasco, J., Flato, G. and Fujii, Y. (n.d.). Lead Authors. [online] Available at: