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Western Greenland. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Greenland's ice sheet has melted beyond the point of no return, contributing to rising ocean levels, a new study published in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment finds.

Why it matters: Even if global warming were to stop imminently, annual snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet cannot keep pace with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers.

What they found: Scientists analyzed the satellite data of more than 200 glaciers across the Arctic territory spanning nearly 40 years through 2018, finding that the ice sheet shrank so quickly that snowfall could not keep up with the rate of melting from parts of the glacier exposed to warming ocean water.

  • The study also found that the ice sheet is retreating in bursts, resulting in a swift and unpredictable rise in sea levels.
    • Greenland contributes 280 billion metric tons of melting ice into the ocean each year, making it the largest physical source of rising ocean levels.

What they're saying: "The ice sheet is now in this new dynamic state, where even if we went back to a climate that was more like what we had 20 or 30 years ago, we would still be pretty quickly losing mass," Ian Howat, co-author of the study and a professor at Ohio State University, said, per CNN.

  • "We've passed the point of no return but there's obviously more to come," Howat said. "Rather than being a single tipping point in which we've gone from a happy ice sheet to a rapidly collapsing ice sheet, it's more of a staircase where we've fallen off the first step but there's many more steps to go down into the pit."
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.