Unprecedented Greenland ice melt alarming: NASA
Washington: The rapid melting of ice sheet in Greenland in July has left NASA scientist stunned and alarmed, raising fears of the consequences of climate change in future.
The unprecedented melting of the ice sheet that lasted over four days - starting July 8 - was captured by three satellites. Summit station, the coldest and highest place in Greenland, also showed signs of thaw.
Although melting of ice is a common phenomenon in summer, what was unusual about the current development was that there was a swift expansion of the area of melting ice that went up from about 40% of the ice sheet area to 97% in just a span of four days.
"You literally had this wave of warm air wash over the Greenland ice sheet and melt it," NASA ice scientist Tom Wagner said Tuesday.
Rapid melting of ice happens about every 150 years – which is supposed to have occurred in 1889 according to ice core records– the current observations are being viewed as more serious that may have wide-ranging potential implications.
"When we see melt in places that we haven't seen before, at least in a long period of time, it makes you sit up and ask what's happening?" NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati said. It's a big signal, the meaning of which we're going to sort out for years to come."
Scientists have warned that though they can't yet determine if this is a natural rare event or one triggered by man-made global warming – as wide melting in Greenland has happened before – what they certainly know is that ice sheets have already been thinning because of climate change.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center on Tuesday announced that the area filled with Arctic sea ice continues near a record low.