According to a NASA press release, about half of Greenland's surface ice sheet naturally melts during an average summer. But the data from three independent satellites this July, analyzed by NASA and university scientists, showed that in less than a week, the amount of thawed ice sheet surface skyrocketed from 40% to 97% percent.
In over 30 years of observations, satellites have never measured this amount of melting, which reaches nearly all of Greenland's surface ice cover.
When Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory observed the recent melting phenomenon, he said in the NASA press release, "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: Was this real or was it due to a data error?"
Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Georgia-Athens and City University of New York all confirmed the remarkable ice melt.
NASA's cryosphere program manager, Tom Wagner, credited the power of satellites for observing the melt and explained to The Huffington Post that, although this specific event may be part of a natural variation, "We have abundant evidence that Greenland is losing ice, probably because of global warming, and it's significantly contributing to sea level rise."
Wagner said that ice is clearly thinning around the periphery, changing Greenland's overall ice mass, and he believes this is primarily due to warming ocean waters "eating away at the ice." He cautiously added, "It seems likely that's correlated with anthropogenic warming."
This specific extreme melt occurred in large part due to an unusual weather pattern over Greenland this year, what the NASA press release describes as a series of "heat domes," or an "unusually strong ridge of warm air."
Notable melting occurred in specific regions of Greenland, such as the area aroundSummit Station, located two miles above sea level. Not since 1889 has this kind of melting occurred, according to ice core analysis described in NASA's press release.
Goddard glaciologist Lora Koenig said that similar melting events occur about every 150 years, and this event is consistent with that schedule, citing the previous 1889 melt. But, she added, "if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome."
"One of the big questions is 'What's happening in the Arctic in general?'" Wagner said to HuffPost.
Wagner explained that in recent years, studies have observed thinning sea ice and "dramatic" overall changes. He was clear, "We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that Greenland is losing a tremendous amount of ice overall."
NASA CAPTION: Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. In the image, the areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to those sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. The areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected surface melting.
The satellites are measuring different physical properties at different scales and are passing over Greenland at different times. As a whole, they provide a picture of an extreme melt event about which scientists are very confident.
It is true article at least mentions 150 year. That is important since Industrialized Nations were not here then but I date it at 200 years rounded.
The Sun and normal earth wobble account for 97% of our climate leaving only 3% left and out of that 3%, cows have more effect than humans but there are Volcanoes and many other natural variables leaving humans at only City heat Island effect so stop taking temperatures in growing Cities to get real data and remember humans are normal to the planet and we also do experiments with climate so nothing unnatural is going on. It would be impossible for it to be unnatural since the whole Universe is natural.
We will be so cold by 2020; people will be like in the 70s yelling coming Ice Age again. I admit, I am untrusting of most meteorologist although, I do know one of the more famous ones you see on TV often. He is pretty good but I think I am much better in forecasting because I do not use computer models.
We are not going to burn up or freeze to death at least in the next two thousand years. After that, I do not have enough proof of what will happen yet but I know what will happen up to that far out and see nothing irregular or anything to cause global destruction with Oceans or anything else. Snow lovers are going to like this winter from Northern Ga to the NE as well as much of the Midwest but a little disappointed out West.
Enjoy the weather and don’t worry about statements of doom. Those are lies and scientists that do not agree with global warming in the States who do research lose research money while those who agree get money. That tells the story right there. Follow the money to find your conspiracy.
After climate study going back to the 1970s, I know humans have little to do with climate other than City heat Island effect. Climate will not be fully understood this century however; we will have much better information by 2020 due in large part to Satellites.
There are climate phases, small, mid and large. We are in a new 30 year cold phase which is seen by PDO and other factors thus; fewer El Nino’s and more La Nina’s but climatology of these MUST be based on the last cold phase rather than the last 30 years or predictions will be off.
We are also in a mid-phase too which happens every few hundred years so we have both global cooling on small phase and warming on the mid phase. This will result in two extremely cold winters followed by one warm winter until 2030. I expect to see Arctic ice buildup to 1979 levels by 2020 to prove my theory correct but my forecasts are top of the line at 90% winter after winter so I’m doing something right and I’m not a meteorologist. I consider myself a student of more than 30 years. There is no money in being a meteorologist which is why I am not one. My winter forecasts come out every year Thanksgiving week. Preliminary study shows CPC to be wrong with this being a brutally cold winter mostly in the East but this can change until I have full summer data and some fall data.
Now, from the sound of this article, we're only discussing surface ice. I am basing that on the definition I learned in my climate change course at RU 12 years ago, but that to me sounds a lot like just the top layer. There's still a mile or more of glacial ice below that. We're not talking bare rock on Greenland, that would be catastrophic to our oceans and climate.
The scariest part though, from what I remember, is when that glacial ice is exposed, it is gone forever. In this interglacial period we're in, that thick icecap is not being replaced. So yeah, we just took the protective blanket off all that blue ice, and now it will be melting at an equally rapid pace, barring any dramatic change in the pattern.
I already linked this report to a couple friends of mine who are environmental science professors, just to get some clarification on how much ice is really gone. 97% of the surface ice is not 97% of the ice cap though...I hope.
This to me is not surprising you can see it coming for the last 10 years!
I mean look at this year many many places in the Untied States have seen their warmest months on record month after month after month.
You have amazing warm waters off the East Coast I mean never in my life time have I seen Cape May NJ week after week after week of 80+ degree waters and this has been going on from just about late MAY!!!!
May people talk about the air warming up exponetially but don't forget about your Oceans there is a lag time I would say of 2-5 years and the Oceans have a HUGE role in controlling our weather patterns.
That's another point I want to make as well. Has anyone talked about or noticed the long duration weather patterns that have been occurring over the past 3-5 years. NOTHING MOVES AND THOSE AREAS THAT GET HOT AND DRY STAY HOT AND DRY. THOSE AREAS THAT GET WET STAY WET AND FLOODED!
ONE EXTREME TO ANOTHER REMEMBER GLOBAL WARMING CLIMATE CHANGE IS ABOUT EXTREMES AND THAT IS WHAT YOU WILL SEE HAPPENING EXPONETIALLY OVER THE NEXT DECADE.
I have named my screen name WildWeather because I know the ramifications of Global Warming or Climate change! The end results are WildWeather of all sorts!