Viral footage of Greenland’s recent melting.
In early August, Greenland lost between12 and 24 billion tons of ice each day, which, The Washington Post reported was about 6 to 18 billion tons greater than the typical rates seen during the same dates during the time period from 1981-2010. According to The Post, the melt season overall — which has about 35 to 40 days to go — is poised to set a new and more significant record, the 2012 record ice loss, which reached 300 billion tons of surface ice mass loss from Greenland.
Why This Matters: This rate of melting in Greenland, when combined with similar melting in Antarctica does not bode well for the future of small islands and coastal cities. This rapid melting also creates a dangerous feedback loop — “Ice-free areas feature much above-average sea surface temperatures, which is reinforcing the transport of mild air into the region, and helping to melt more sea ice.” Scientists now believe that “the rate of ice loss in Greenland has increased sixfold since the 1980s, according to a recent study, with the ice sheet responsible for raising global sea levels by 13.7 millimeters since 1972, half of which occurred in just the past 8 years.” But that is just (pardon the pun) the tip of the iceberg. Bloomberg reports that, according to recent modeling, the loss of Greenland’s ice is likely to raise sea levels along the East Coast of the U.S. by a minimum of 0.2 meters (about 8 inches) over the next century. This is a huge news story that has been understandably overshadowed by the tragic events of the past two weeks.
Ice Melt in Greenland By The Numbers
The Washington Post reported, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado:
- “Greenland has already lost a total of over 250 billion tons from a combination of melt runoff and low total snowfall earlier in the season.”
- “That’s enough to fill more than 90 million Olympic-size swimming pools. Or to put it another way, that much water could sustain the global population’s water intake for more than 40 years.”
Arctic sea ice is “well on its way to one of the five lowest levels on record since satellite records began in 1979….Sea ice ended the month of July at a record low, and was continuing to drop sharply into early August.”
As of last week, “there was no sea ice off the shores of Alaska, something that has never occurred before so early in the melt season.”