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Latest “massive melting” of Greenland ice sheet could cover Florida with five centimeters of water

Monday, August 9th 2021 - 15:18 UTC
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Climate scientist Steffen Olsen took this picture while travelling across melted sea ice in north-west Greenland Climate scientist Steffen Olsen took this picture while travelling across melted sea ice in north-west Greenland

The Polar Portal website has reported that the Greenland ice sheet recent “massive melting event” released enough mass to cover the state of Florida with 5 centimeters of water.

According to Danish researchers linked to the Polar Portal the melting was the third largest single day loss of ice in Greenland since 1950, with the others happening in 2012 and 2019. It is estimated that 22 giga-tons of ice melted from the sheet, with more the mass, some 12 giga-tons flowing to the ocean. A giga-ton is equivalent to one billion tons.

Apparently a heavy snowfall previous to the melting event allowed 10 giga-tons to be absorbed and potentially recycled and frozen, indicated Xavier Fettweis from the Liege University in Belgium.

The Danish Meteorological Institute is currently reporting summer temperatures in excess of 20 Celsius in northern Greenland, twice the summer average. Scientists are indicating that changes in atmospheric circulation patterns have become a determining factor, and that the exceptional melting occurred after air being trapped over the Arctic island.

Furthermore there is concern that if atmospheric patterns continue to trap ever warmer air, it may lead to an amplified feedback loop which accelerates melting. And melting has increased as dark earth is exposed to sun's rays absorbing instead of reflecting light as with ice.

Polar Portal points out that the ice sheet began losing mass in 1990, accelerating in 2000. Likewise the mass loss in recent years is some four times greater than before 2000. It is estimated that sea levels could rise between six and seven meters if the sheet were to melt entirely.

Greenland together with Antarctica have the only permanent ice sheets and hold some 70% of the world's fresh water.

Categories: Environment, International.

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