Imagine a bag of ice as big as Mexico and 5,000 feet high. That’s how big the Greenland ice sheet is. And it’s melting fast. But what does that have to do with Charleston, which is 3,000 miles away?
So much ice in Greenland is melting that it’s affecting the gravitational forces that pull seas away from South Carolina’s beaches and marshlands. Turns out, what happens in Greenland will largely determine the Lowcountry’s fate.
This distant, icy land has already reshaped our coastline and made our tides higher and our flooding worse. Josh Willis, a climate scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the head of the Oceans Melting Greenland project, is researching how warming waters impact ice melt.
Through his team’s findings, scientists were able to calculate that Greenland’s already major contribution to sea rise might be twice as large as previously thought. “We’re really watching something unfold that hasn’t happened in millions of years,” he said. “There’s no way around it. It’s definitely something we’re doing to the planet, and we see the evidence everywhere.”
Tony Bartelme explores the connection between these two distant places with breathtaking photos from Lauren Petracca.