SOURCE: Rolling Stone
DATE: July 31, 2019
SNIP: Amid an ongoing heat wave, new data show the Greenland ice sheet is in the middle of its biggest melt season in recorded history. It’s the latest worrying signal climate change is accelerating far beyond the worst fears of even climate scientists.
The record-setting heat wave that sweltered northern Europe last week has moved north over the critically vulnerable Greenland ice sheet, triggering temperatures this week that are as much as 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal.
Weather models indicate Tuesday’s temperature may have surpassed 75 degrees Fahrenheit in some regions of Greenland, and a weather balloon launched near the capital Nuuk measured all-time record warmth just above the surface. That heat wave is still intensifying, and is expected to peak on Thursday with the biggest single-day melt ever recorded in Greenland. On August 1 alone, more than 12 billion tons of water will permanently melt away from the ice sheet and find its way down to the ocean, irreversibly raising sea levels globally.
A tweet from the Danish Meteorological Institute, the official weather service of Greenland, said “almost all the ice sheet, including Summit” measurably melted on Tuesday. According to a preliminary estimate, that melt covered 87 percent of the ice sheet’s surface, which would be the second-biggest melt day in Greenland’s recorded history. Separate weather monitoring equipment at Summit Camp at the top of the 10,000-foot-thick Greenland ice sheet confirmed the temperature briefly reached the melting point.
This week alone, Greenland will lose about 50 billion tons of ice, enough for a permanent rise in global sea levels by about 0.1mm. So far in July, the Greenland ice sheet has lost 160 billion tons of ice — enough to cover Florida in about six feet of water. According to IPCC estimates, that’s roughly the level of melt a typical summer will have in 2050 under the worst-case warming scenario if we don’t take meaningful action to address climate change. Under that same scenario, this week’s brutal, deadly heat wave would be normal weather in the 2070s.
This summer has been horrific all across the Arctic.
Unusual wildfires across Siberia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and Greenland have been raging all summer, and by one estimate released about 50 million tons of carbon dioxide in the month of June alone — equivalent to the annual emissions of Sweden. In Switzerland, some glaciers melted so rapidly during last week’s heatwave that they sent swirling mudflows racing downhill. In the Arctic Ocean, sea ice is at a record-low extent as the melt season continues to lengthen. In Alaska, ecosystems are rapidly changing, especially in the Bering Sea region where this year’s ice-free season began in February.