Greenland's ice sheet is losing 40 trillion additional tons of ice each year, melting about 7% faster than previously thought, according to a new study.
The new calculated loss is equivalent to more than 50,000 Empire State Buildings, the Associated Press reported. Overall, the sheet is losing about 590 trillion tons of ice each year.
Melting ice from Greenland and Antarctica contributes to sea-level rise, which threatens low-lying countries and cities around the world. Greenland's ice sheet is the world's second-largest behind Antarctica. Warmer air and sea temperatures caused by man-made climate change is one of the main reasons the ice is melting.
The study's findings don't change scientists' estimates of the total loss in Greenland that much, "but it brings a more significant change to our understanding of where within the ice sheet that loss has happened, and where it is happening now," said study co-author Michael Bevis of Ohio State University.
Bevis said the discovery holds big implications for measuring ice loss elsewhere in the world. The new correction will help researchers better identify the levels of global sea level rise, he said, which has averaged about 8 inches over the past century.
If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted — a catastrophic event not predicted to occur — scientists estimate the sea level would rise about 20 feet, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
The study, which used GPS technology to more precisely measure the melt both above and under the ice, appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances.