First Ban Ki-moon, Now John Kerry: Climate leaders Visit One of World’s Most Stunning and Sobering Locales

A trip to Greenland's fastest retreating glacier has Secretary of State John Kerry saying, "[W]hat we did in Paris with the Paris accord on global climate change is critical now to be implemented, but it’s not even enough."

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry visited one of the world’s starkest, and most stunning, illustrations of our impact on the planet — Greenland’s enormous Jakobshavn (or Sermeq Kujalleq) glacier. His visit follows a similar one United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took to visit UNESCO World Heritage site Ilulissat in Greenland ahead of the climate summit convened at the United Nations in 2014.

See highlights from the Secretary-General’s trip, where he witnessed the impacts of climate change first hand:

Kerry, who this year leads the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council, toured the Jakobshavn glacier (which lies at the end of the Ilulissat Icefjord) from onboard a Danish ship with foreign ministers from Greenland and Denmark. Kerry shared his experience online, remarking,

“I wanted to come up here today to both underscore the urgency but also to learn – and I did learn. I learned more about the threat of the Antarctic, which in many ways is far greater than the threat of the ice melt here in Greenland, what I’ve learned today – and an area where we don’t know enough, where we need to do more research, and where we need to respond to greater effect.”

A 2014 study dubbed the Jakobshavn glacier “Greenland’s fastest glacier.” As Kerry explains:

“…out of this particular ice fjord, the most active ice flow in the Northern Hemisphere there’s 86 million metric tons of ice each day flowing out into the ice flow, breaking off…this is gigantic transformation taking place and you can see it in the naked eye as you see where the ice has retreated from just in the last 15, 20 years, where the marks are still left.”

The Jakobshavn glacier is losing 25 billion to 35 billion tons of ice per year, according to Greenland expert, Ian Joughin of the University of Washington in Seattle. In just over a decade, Jakobshavn raised global sea levels by one millimeter. That may not sound like much, but it means that the glacier lost around 360 billion tons of ice in ten years alone. If lost, Jakobshavn glacier alone could raise global sea levels by nearly 2 feet.

Want to learn more? Read the full article from The Washington Post:

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