Melting of the Greenland ice sheet was the most extreme yet in 2010, beating the previous melt record from 2007. This continues a long-term trend whereby melting in Greenland has increased on average 17,000 square kilometers every year since 1979.
“This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average,” explains Dr. Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at The City College of New York (CCNY – CUNY), in a press release. “Melting in 2010 started exceptionally early at the end of April and ended quite late in mid- September.”
The record melt was due to summer temperature hitting 3 degrees Celsius above average (approximately 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit) and decreased snowfall. Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, had the warmest spring and summers temperatures since record keeping began there in 1873.
Melting of the Greenland ice sheet is especially worrisome since it contributes to the rise of the globe’s sea levels.
“Sea level rise is expected to top 1 meter by 2100, largely due to melting from ice sheets. And it will not stop there—the longer we take to limit greenhouse gas production, the more melting and water level rise will continue,” said WWF climate specialist Dr. Martin Sommerkorn.
Greenland wasn’t the only warmer-than-average place last year. Worldwide, 2010 was the tied for the warmest year on record with 1998 and 2005, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The top 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998.
Climate experts overwhelmingly conclude that the world is warming due to extensive greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.
(03/28/2010) Over the past ten years scientists have measured increasing ice loss along southern Greenland. Now a new study in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the ice loss has spread north with likely consequences for global sea level rise.
(12/17/2009) Allowing the climate to rise by just two degrees Celsius—the target most industrialized nations are currently discussing in Copenhagen—may still lead to a catastrophic sea level rise of six to nine meters, according to a new study in Nature. While this rise in sea levels would take hundreds of years to fully occur, inaction this century could lock the world into this fate.
(12/14/2009) A new study by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program estimates that the sea will rise by 0.5 to 1.5 meters by 2100, threatening coastal cities and flooding island nations. This is double the predicted rise estimated by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, which did not incorporate sea level rise due to the melting of Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets.