“Unusual” ice melting: Greenland experienced sudden ice melting on 13th June, and the total ice loss has been estimated to be 2 billion tons.
Greenland is one of the islands throughout the globe that’s filled with ice, and melting of about 2 gigatons of ice isn’t usual, especially in the middle of June.
The melting season for Greenland runs from June to August, with much ice melting in July.
The ice that has just melted is eight times the height of Washington Monument, and the surprising thing is that all that ice has melted in only one day. You can imagine how much that ice is.
According to Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia who studies Greenland’s climate, the sudden melting “is unusual, but not unprecedented.”
Mote told CNN:
“It is comparable to some spikes we saw in June of 2012.”
In 2012 ice melt records saw almost the entire ice sheet melting for the first time in history.
Experiencing massive melting in early summer could be a bad sign. It might indicate that ice melting in 2019 might exceed the amounts of Greenland’s ice loss recorded in history.
According to Mote, much melting of the snow and ice at this early summer days may lead to a high amount of melt to occur at the end of summer.
Since ice and snow are white and bright, they reflect back the sun rays to space. This reduces the heat responsible for melting the ice, and thus maintaining the ice sheets at low temperature. The process is also called ‘albedo.’
Mote added that “these melt events result in a changed surface albedo,” which can lead to more sun’s heat to be absorbed into the ice, melting it.
Predictions for a Record Melt Season
“All signs seem to be pointing to a large melt season,” according to Mote, and he isn’t the only scientist to come up with a similar prediction.
Jason Box, an ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, had also predicted, in late May, that “2019 will be a big melt year for Greenland.”
The climatologist pointed out that 2019 experienced unusually early season melt days, especially in April.
Box also said that the melt season was “happening about three weeks earlier than average, and earlier than the record-setting melt year of 2012.”
According to the study, the Western Greenland snow cover is currently below the average, meaning that 2019 “is likely going to be a very big melt year, and even the potential to exceed the record melt year of 2012.”
What’s Causing the Sudden Ice Melt
Mote stated that persistence in the weather patterns is the causing factor of the current spike melting.
“We’ve had a blocking ridge that has been anchored over East Greenland throughout much of the spring, which led to some melting activity in April — and that pattern has persisted.”
The eastern parts of the US have been experiencing high atmospheric pressure that has been pushing humid and warm air towards Greenland. This causes the temperature to rise in the region, melting the ice.
Speaking about the melt periods, Mote said:
“We’ve seen a sequence of these large melt seasons, starting in 2007, that would have been unprecedented earlier in the record. We didn’t see anything like this prior to the late 1990s.”
Mote also pointed out that extreme melt seasons can cause significant ramifications throughout 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.”