Greenland Undergoes Large-Scale Thaw

Over 97 percent affected in five-day period

A glacier in Greenland

A glacier in Greenland     Photo: Basheer Tome/Flickr

NASA scientists expressed surprise and alarm on Tuesday in announcing the discovery of a widespread thaw in Greenland unprecedented in recorded history. An estimated 97 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet has undergone thawing, jumping from 40 percent in only a five-day period in July. Typically, about half of the ice sheet sees melting, but the proportion has doubled this year due to a dome of warm air that moved over Greenland. The ice melt is unmatched in the 30 years that satellites have been monitoring Greenland, and ice core data indicates that such a thaw has not taken place since 1889. "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?" Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said in a press release. Scientists expect such events roughly every 150 years. If such melting repeats next summer, scientists say they’ll then be able to link it to global warming.

Via The Washington Post

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