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Greenland faces historic ice loss due to extreme melt

April 19, 2016 4:10 PM |

greenlandAlmost 12% of Greenland’s ice sheet has melted beating the previous record for a melt of more than 10%, by almost a month. The Greenland ice sheet represents one of the most massive stores of ice on the planet. However, climate change with warm air and water temperatures is leading to the loss of millions of tons of ice each year.

The Danish Meteorological Institute crunched these numbers stating that this year the melt season has kicked off a month-and-a-half ahead of schedule.

Little to no melt through winter is the norm as sub-zero temperatures keep Greenland’s massive ice sheet, well, on ice. Warm weather usually kicks off the melt season in late May or early June, but this year is a bit different.

Record warm temperatures coupled with heavy rain mostly sparked 12 percent of the ice sheet to go into meltdown mode. Almost all the melt is currently centered around southwest Greenland, according to Grist.

According to Polar Portal, which monitors all things ice-related in the Arctic, melt season kicks off when 10 percent of the ice sheet experiences surface melt. The previous record for earliest start was May 5, 2010.

This April kickoff is so bizarrely early, scientists who study the ice sheet checked their analysis to make sure something wasn’t amiss before making the announcement.

“We had to check that our models were still working properly” Peter Langen, a climate scientist at the Denmark Meteorological Institute (DMI), told the Polar Portal.

The summit of the Greenland ice sheet has been record warm. It has reached 20.3°F (-6.5°C) which while obviously below freezing, is still record mild for this time of year and is roughly 40°F above normal. And the warmth isn't over yet.

If the warmth continues to worsen, then by 2100 the entire Greenland ice sheet could experience melting every year.

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