While there have been a range of hazards affecting different parts of the world this summer including forest fires and heat waves in the US, forest fires in Northern Catalonia (Spain) and France, along with flooding and landslides across a number of different countries including the UK, the Greenland ice sheet has recently underwent some serious surface melting, the most observed in three decades of satellite observations according to the NASA Earth Observatory. Their satellites on 8 July first showed 40 percent of the ice sheet thawing at or near the surface and by 12 July the melting ‘spread dramatically beyond the norm’. Now the fact that the Greenland ice sheet is melting in the summer time is hardly news, but melting in July has been extreme coinciding with the presence of a ridge of unusually warm air creating a ‘heat dome’ over Greenland.
This kind of melting at the highest point of the ice sheet at Summit Camp has not occurred since 1889 based on ice core records. NASA Scientists have said this kind of melting of the Greenland ice sheet occurs once every 150 years, but the question remains as to whether this kind of melting will continue more frequently in the years ahead.
References and Further Reading
Satellites Observe Widespread Melting Event on Greenland. NASA Earth Observatory
Uncovering past climate change in Greenland. Tipping Points project