The Greenland ice sheet is dissolving in an accelerated pace that is much faster than what was previously thought, according to a group of scientists from the United States, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The group analyzed ice layers spanning 350 years and found that the amount of Greenland ice sheet disintegrating was “exceptional” and that minimal but continued warming at present could inflict additional damage to the ice. More so, even the slightest ice melting in the region could contribute significantly to the rising sea level as what happened in the last 350 years.

The study, published in the journal Nature on Dec. 5, warned that a higher degree of warming could mean that more massive ice melting will take place and there will be more volumes of water seeping through the Earth’s oceans.

“Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has gone into overdrive. As a result, Greenland melt is adding to sea level more than any time during the last three and a half centuries, if not thousands of years,” Luke Trusel, a glaciologist and lead author of the study, said.

The Greenland ice sheet melting accelerated in the mid-19th century. The rate at which it is taking place jumped dramatically during the 20th to early 21st century. It has never stopped since as human aggressively develop infrastructure and other activities that brought debilitating damage to the environment.

Sarah Das, another glaciologist and co-author of the study, described the occurrence as “off the charts.”

“We found a fifty percent increase in total ice sheet meltwater runoff versus the start of the industrial era and a thirty percent increase since the 20th century alone,” Das said.

For their study, the team used a drill as big and tall as a traffic light pole. The equipment was used to pore through the centuries-old ice layers. The team was able to extract needed samples from more than 6,000 feet above sea level.

The scientists said their equipment provides more historical proof of how ice melting happened in the last 350 years or since the sample is taken underneath. They believed their system is far more accurate than data-driven through satellites since those data may have only been around since the late 1970s.

In a separate study using satellites, meanwhile, NASA estimated that Greenland, the second largest icy area after Antarctica, bring in 0.8 millimeters of water to the oceans per year. Hence, the region could be the largest contributor to the rising sea level, more than any region across the globe.