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DATE: Eric Holthaus

AUTHOR: April 13, 2016

SNIP: On Monday, Greenland began to melt. Parts of Greenland melt every year and the whole thing freezes again each winter, but lately, thanks to global warming, the melting has come earlier and then peaked in the summer at higher levels than usual.

Even in light of these trends, Monday’s melt was unlike anything the scientists studying Greenland have ever seen—it was so different, in fact, that they thought the data was wrong.

The implications of this sudden shift are still being worked out, but climate scientist James Hansen’s recent study provides a preview: We can look forward to faster sea level rise, stronger storms, and even a potential destabilization of global governance, should greenhouse gas emissions continue essentially unchecked. Of course, this week’s melt event in Greenland is just a single additional data point in this trove of evidence, but it’s a dramatic one.