Friday, June 17, 2016

Greenland Hotter than New York

Greenland experienced the highest temperatures ever recorded on June 9, when air temperature in Nuuk, the capital city, soared to 75 degrees F. The average high for this time of year between 1961 and 1990 was 44 degrees F. Amazingly, that record stood for only one day. On June 10, the temperature in Nuuk reached 24.8 degrees Celsius, or 76.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

All this hot air caused Greenland’s sea ice, which is the size of Texas, to begin thawing nearly six weeks earlier than normal this year. The rapid melting of the ice sheet was so unusual in April that researchers thought their instruments were malfunctioning.
The fate of Greenland's ice, particularly how fast it's melting, is an uncomfortable wild card in climate science. If the entire ice sheet were to melt tomorrow (it won't), global sea level would rise by more than 23 feet, inundating highly populated coastal areas around the world.

Recent studies have predicted a faster melt of Greenland as more information about the instability of key glaciers has come in, leading to the very real possibility of 1 meter, or 3.3 feet, or more of sea level rise worldwide by the year 2100.
This past winter was the warmest on record for the Arctic region. The warmer air and melting ice magnify each other in a feedback loop called Arctic amplification.

This is one reason the Arctic is heating up far faster than other parts of the globe.

Jakobshavn Glacier near the edge of the Greenland ice sheet
Upernavik glacier in Northwest Greenland

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