Greenland sees early ice sheet melt

Ice-sheet melt is one of the more visible and key signs of man-made global warming from the burning of fossil fuels.

    Greenland sees early ice sheet melt
    If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted, it could add six metres or more to the global sea level [Reuters]

    Greenland's massive ice sheet has experienced such an early and extensive melt that scientists this week thought their models were broken when they saw the data.

    Summer-like warm temperatures and rain resulted in about 12 percent of the ice sheet surface area - 1.7 million square kilometres - showing signs of melting ice on Monday, scientists at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) said.

    New Zealand's glaciers melting at an alarming rate

    "We had to check that our models were still working properly," climate scientist Peter Langen told DMI's Polar Portal website.

    Such a melt is normal for late May, but not mid-April.

    Before now, the top three dates for reaching that milestone were previously: May 5, 2010; May 8, 1990; and May 8, 2006.

    "Something like this wipes out all kinds of records, you can't help but go, 'This could be a sign of things we're going to see more often in the future,'" Langen said.

    'More extreme, more common'

    A weather system is bringing warm temperatures to Greenland and funnelling lots of warmer-than-normal rain up from the south.

    Scientists said that this is part of a natural weather system, but man-made climate change has worsened it.

    "Things are getting more extreme and they're getting more common," said NASA ice scientist Walt Meier.

    Greenland's ice sheet melting is one of the more visible and key signs of man-made global warming from the burning of fossil fuels because it is causing seas to rise, and putting coastal areas at risk, Meier said.

    If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted, which would take centuries, it could add six metres or more to the global sea level, Meier added.

    But within the next century, Greenland ice melt alone could raise it by a metre or so, he said. "The concern is things are moving faster than we thought," Meier said.

     Weather - Richard Angwin on the Greenland ice thaw

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.