When we think of Greenland, it is likely that pictures of an icebound, rough and forbidden landscape come to mind, not an ice landscape pocketed with melting lakes and streams transformed into raging rivers.
However, the latter description is precisely what Greenland like today, based on images shared on social media, ground researchers and satellite information. The melting event that started initially this week remains on Greenland's ice sheet on Thursday. There are indications that around 60% of the ice cover has seen detectable ground melting, including at greater altitudes that rarely see temperatures climbing above freezing.
According to data from the Polar Portal, a website run by Danish polar research institutions, and the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, July 31 was the largest melting day since at least 2012, with about 60 per cent of the ice sheet seeing at least 1 millimetre of melting on the surface and more than 10 billion tons of ice lost to the ocean from surface melting.
The ice sheet sent 197 billion tonnes of water to the Atlantic Ocean during July, according to Ruth Mottram, a climate investigator with the Danish Meteorological Institute. Studies have shown that ice melting periods such as the one seen in 2012 typically happen approximately every 250 years, so the fact that another occurs only a few years later could be a sign of how climate change raises the likelihood of such occurrences. The short-term, extreme melting incident is a sign of the growing impact of climate change on the Arctic, according to DMI's Mottram.