Climate change is affecting us real bad and is accelerating in such a manner that even climate scientists are baffled. An ongoing heatwave has seen parts of glaciers across the world melt at a rapid rate and now a new date shows the Greenland ice sheet has melted the highest on a single day. The heatwave has sweltered the whole of northern Europe and its ramifications are visible in the critically vulnerable Greenland ice sheet.
Greenland, the world's largest island, is a semi-autonomous Danish territory between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans that has 82% of its surface covered in ice. The heat wave continues to intensify and on Thursday, Greenland recorded the biggest single-day ice melt ever recorded.
Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute said, "More than 10 billion tons (11 billion U.S. tons) of ice was lost to the oceans by surface melt on Wednesday alone."
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On Thursday alone, more than 12 billion tons of water melted away permanently from the ice sheet and found its way down to the ocean, irreversibly rising sea levels globally.
The scope of Wednesday's ice melt is a number difficult to grasp. To understand just how much ice is being lost, a mere 1 billion tons _ or 1 gigaton _ of ice loss is equivalent to about 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, the Danish Meteorological Institute said. And 100 billion tons (110 billion U.S. tons) corresponds to a 0.28 mm (0.01 inch) rise in global sea levels.
Mottram said since June 1 _ roughly the start of the ice-loss season _ the Greenland ice sheet has lost 240 gigatons (240 billion metric tons) this year. That compares with 290 gigatons lost overall in the 2012 melt season, which usually goes through the end of August.
A June 2019 study by scientists in the U.S. and Denmark said melting ice in Greenland alone will add between 5 and 33 centimeters (2 to 13 inches) to rising global sea levels by the year 2100. If all the ice in Greenland melted _ which would take centuries _ the world's oceans would rise by 7.2 meters (23 feet, 7 inches), the study found.
The current melting has been brought on by the arrival of the same warm air from North Africa and Spain that melted European cities and towns last week, setting national temperature records in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Britain.
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Heatwaves have always occurred, but Mike Sparrow, a spokesman for the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, noted that as global temperatures have risen, extreme heatwaves are now occurring at least 10 times more frequently than a century ago. This year, the world saw its hottest month of June ever.
"These kinds of heatwaves are weather events and can occur naturally but studies have shown that both the frequency and intensity of these heatwaves have increased due to global warming,'' Sparrow said in a telephone interview from Geneva.
He noted that sea ice spread in the Arctic and Antarctic are both currently at record lows.
(With inputs from agencies)