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Two Gigatonnes of Ice Melted in Greenland in Just One Day

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  • Almost half of the region experienced melting in the middle of June, which is very unusual.
  • Experts clarified though that the melting spike is unusual, but not unprecedented.
  • They also warn about the significant ramifications that these extreme melt seasons could have around the globe.

During the “melt season” in the Arctic region (which happens every year), it’s natural for higher levels of solid chunks of ice to dissolve into water, but this time the amount of ice lost is highly unusual.

This year, more than 2 gigatonnes of ice melted IN JUST A SINGLE DAY. Over 40% of the region experienced melting in the middle of June, which is highly unusual.

From June to July, Greenland experiences its average melt season, with the melting peaking in July.
Experts clarified that the sudden spike in melting is unusual, but not unprecedented.

In a CNN report, Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia, said that “It is comparable to some spikes we saw in June of 2012.”

Mote was referring to that time in 2012, in which the country experienced its first record-breaking ice loss. Greenland lost almost its entire ice sheet during that moment.

Now the experts predicted that 2019 could set records for ice loss in the country.

According to Mote, the melting of ice and snow off the Greenland ice sheet, especially happening earlier than expected, will make it easier for additional melting to happen later in summertime.

Mote explained that white snow and ice (which reflects the sun’s rays back into space due to its brightness) lessens the amount of heat that is absorbed.

This helps in keeping the ice sheet cold and intact. This is a process called “albedo.”

Mote said that these melt events resulted in a changed surface albedo and that all signs indicate to a bigger melt season. He also pointed out that he is not the only expert who think so.

Jason Box, ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said that “2019 will be a big melt year for Greenland.” He predicted this in late May. He noted that the melting season occurred 3 weeks earlier than the average and also earlier than the record-setting event in 2012.

Experts noted that the snow cover during this time was lower than average in Western Greenland. Along with the other factors they mentioned, this means that it’s going to be a very big melt happening in 2019 and will likely exceed the record set in 2012.

Mote said that the steady weather pattern is responsible for the current increase in ice melting. There’s a blocking ridge that has been latched over East Greenland throughout most of the spring season. This resulted to some melting activity in April. The particular pattern has persisted.

Experts warned about the significant ramifications that these extreme melt seasons could have around the globe.

“Greenland has been an increasing contributor to global sea level rise over the past two decades and surface melting and runoff is a large portion of that,” said Mote.

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