A swathe of the Greenland ice sheet may be nearing a "tipping point" into a new unstable state of melting that would be irreversible in the short term, scientists warn.

As the central-western Greenland ice sheet melts, it is also shrinking in height, with its surface exposed to warmer temperatures at lower altitudes that contributes further to melting, according to research published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a second study published Monday, a different group of researchers highlights how changing snowfall patterns over the Greenland may also cause the ice sheet to absorb more heat.