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CO2 Budget Depletion


The Risk

A WARMER ARCTIC UNDERMINES ITS VAST ICE SHEETS. Air temperatures within the Arctic Circle are rising approximately four times faster than the global average. 
As a result, melting land ice and snow are draining more and more into the global ocean.


MELTING ICE SHEETS MEAN HIGHER SEAS The Greenland Ice Sheet contains the equivalent of 7.4 metres of sea level rise. It is now the largest contributor to global sea level rise at up to 1.4 mm per year and Greenland’s ongoing deglaciation will massively disrupt coastal communities across the world.
Breaking research by Box, Hubbard et al. (2023) shows that Greenland’s ice sheet is being dismantled both internally and externally by a variety of simultaneous processes. We now know that Greenland’s contribution to global sea level rise is significantly greater than models have forecasted and is primed for catastrophic coastal flooding for more than a billion people around the world–the vast majority of whom are unprepared.


THE MASSIVE GREENLAND ICE SHEET IS RETREATING. Within the last three decades, Greenland has lost almost five trillion tonnes of ice equivalent to 14 millimetres in sea-level rise. Losses from other ice masses and thermal expansion of the ocean doubles this figure. But this is just the beginning: Greenland ice was in balance with climate in the 1990s and its ice deficit is now accelerating.



The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the world’s most authoritative source on climate change. It reviews all published literature to provide comprehensive and objective scientific information.


The vast Greenland Ice Sheet is three times the area of France and acts as a massive reservoir storing the world’s frozen freshwater. Since 2005, it has been in severe deficit, losing on average 243 billion tonnes of ice every year, equivalent to 486,000 fully loaded supertankers dumping that melt directly into the ocean

Global mean sea level rise has increased by 20 cm (±5 cm) between 1901 and 2018 but over half of this has occurred in the last two decades. The world’s oceans have been rising at a mean rate in excess of 4±0.5 mm per year since 2007.

Global mean sea level rise is projected to approach 2 metres by 2100 and 5 metres by 2150 under a very high GHG emissions scenario.

Many impacts due to already committed greenhouse gas emissions have become irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially structural changes in ocean circulation, ice sheets and global sea level.

  • Greenland ice melt is the leading source of global sea level rise.
  • Over the next 80 years, the dwindling Greenland Ice Sheet is expected to add between at least 90±50 mm and 32±17 mm to sea-level rise for high and low emissions scenarios, respectively.
  • Rising seas could be far higher if the projected pace of Greenland’s deglaciation exceeds expectations - which has been the actual reality for the last four IPCC reports.
  • Fresh water from the melting Greenland Ice Sheet is expected to disrupt the main North Atlantic thermohaline current, likely intensifying storms impacting northwestern Europe and the North Atlantic.



Charts best viewed in landscape mode, rotate your phone to explore this chart.

Rising temperatures mean the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet is steadily declining. As it dwindles, meltwater flows into the ocean, causing sea levels to rise and disrupting powerful ocean currents.



Charts best viewed in landscape mode, rotate your phone to explore this chart.

Greenland ice-sheet melt feeds the Watson River in south-west Greenland. The volume of the river’s discharge provides insight about the pace of ice-sheet melt. In 2021, the river’s peak discharge far exceeded the 2006-2015 average.



Charts best viewed in landscape mode, rotate your phone to explore this chart.

2022’s above-average spikes in Greenland surface melt paint a picture of an ice sheet retreating quickly.


The following gauges show up-to-date data regarding key indicators in the Arctic. These indicators clearly point to the crisis at hand.

Greenland rate of ice loss
13 million l/s
on average
13 million tonnes/s
on average
Arctic Sea Ice Extent
435,999 km²
below 1981-2010 average on 13-Apr-2024
168,339 mi²
below 1981-2010 average on 13-Apr-2024
Arctic Amplification
4 times
faster than global average
Arctic 66N+ Wildfire emissions
-0.00 megatonnes CO₂e
CO₂e emissions in 2024 so far
Arctic Air Quality (PM2.5)
3.68 microgram per cubic meter
on 14-Apr-2024
Global mean Sea Level
since 1993