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Friday, May 20, 2022

Greenland heatwave triggers melting — sufficient to cowl Florida with 2 inches of water

A bunch of Danish researchers discovered that the Greenland ice sheet skilled a “huge melting occasion” final week throughout a heatwave that introduced temperatures greater than 20 levels Celsius above seasonal norms. The ice sheet has melted by about eight billion tons a day, which is about twice the conventional common charge seen throughout summer time, they discovered.

Picture credit score: Flickr / Steve Weston

Most of Greenland is at the moment coated by the Greenland Ice Sheet, which spans 656,000 sq. miles (1.7 million sq. kilometers) – 3 times the scale of Texas, based on the Nationwide Snow and Ice Information Heart (NSIDC).  It’s the second-largest on the planet after the Antarctic one. Collectively, the 2 of them include 99% of the freshwater ice on Earth. 

Ice that melts away in Greenland can circulation as water into the ocean, the place it provides to the continued enhance in world sea degree attributable to human-induced local weather change. World sea degree has risen about eight to 9 inches (21 to 24 centimeters) since 1880. A 3rd of that has occurred in simply the final two and a half many years, research have proven. 

If all of Greenland’s ice have been to soften, the seas would rise by about 24 ft (7.3 meters), based on a 2019 report by NOAA. This could be sufficient to flood most coastal cities around the globe. Whereas this received’t occur in a single day, Greenland’s ice sheet is already melting now six instances sooner than it was within the Nineteen Eighties, research confirmed — and if final week is any indication, we’re up for a wild experience.

A report warmth wave 

The Danish researchers shared their outcomes on the Polar Portal web site, exhibiting that the ice sheet misplaced 8.5 billion tons of floor mass final Tuesday and an additional 8.4 billion tons on Thursday. The size is so giant that the losses on Tuesday created sufficient meltwater to drown your complete US state of Florida in two inches (or 5 centimeters) of water. 

“It’s a really excessive degree of melting and it’ll in all probability change the face of Greenland, as a result of will probably be a really sturdy driver for an acceleration of future melting, and subsequently sea-level rise,” Marco Tedesco, a glacier professional at Columbia College, instructed The Guardian. “The snow is sort of a protecting blanket, as soon as that’s gone you get locked into sooner melting.”

Tedesco mentioned the higher-than-usual temperatures in Greenland have been attributable to a patch of excessive stress that’s sucking and holding hotter air from additional south “like a vacuum cleaner.” As soon as seasonal snow melts, the darker core ice is uncovered, which then attracts extra warmth, melts extra, and provides to sea-level rise. These atmospheric occasions are getting longer and extra frequent, he added. 

Greenland’s melting season usually lasts from June to August. Based on the Danish researchers, the island has misplaced greater than 100 billion tons of ice for the reason that begin of June this yr. Whereas that is lower than in 2019, when a whopping 11 billion tons of ice have been misplaced in a single day, the world affected is way bigger this yr. “There’s a ton of heat and moist air over the ice sheet,” glaciologist Brad Lipovsky instructed The Guardian.

A latest examine from the College of Studying steered that the Greenland Ice Sheet is inching in in direction of a harmful threshold. In round 600 years, it can soften sufficient that the sheet received’t ever get better, it doesn’t matter what we do, and sea ranges stay completely increased. This state of affairs assumes that present charges of soften stay fixed.

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