Last week, the world received another reminder of what is to come, as temperatures at the highest point of the Greenland ice sheet rose above freezing and melted snow there for the first time since July. from 2012 and maybe only the third time in the last 700 years. The glacier-covered island lost 12.5 billion tons of ice in one day.
As climate scientist Martin Stendel points out, that's enough to cover all of Florida in nearly 6 inches of water. Or, enough to cover Germany with almost 7 cm of water. Or Denmark with half a meter of water.
The ice sheet covering Greenland is roughly the same size as the state of Alaska and contains enough ice to raise sea levels worldwide by more than 20 feet. Every year Greenland gains ice during the winter due to the accumulation of compacted snow and then during the summer months, it loses ice from melt water and icebergs that are born in the ocean.
A particularly hot and dry spring this year left only a thin layer of snow on the exposed glacial ice. The planet just had its warmest June on record, followed by the warmest July on record, hence the ice has melted everywhere from the glaciers in Greenland to the Himalayas. Fortunately, summer is coming to an end in the Northern Hemisphere.
"Every now and then we'll see a little melt during the fall season, but nothing that has a major impact on annual mass loss," Thomas L. Mote, Research Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia, he told Forbes.