According to Danish government researchers who monitor the ice sheet, the Greenland ice sheet experienced a ‘massive melting event” this week, releasing enough mass “to cover Florida with 2 inches (5 centimetres) of water.’
The melting event on Wednesday was the third-largest single day loss of ice in Greenland since 1950, according to the researchers, who published the results of their monitoring on the website Polar Portal. The others were in 2012 and 2019.
Despite the fact that the 2019 event was larger in terms of volume, researchers claim that Wednesday’s event affected a larger area.
On Wednesday, an estimated 22 gigatons of ice melted from the sheet.
Massive melting event in Greenland. While not as extreme as in 2019 in terms of gigatons (left image – but still would be enough to cover Florida with two inches of water), the area over which melting takes place (right image) is even a bit larger than two years ago. pic.twitter.com/rEeDIlYTA7
— Polar Portal (@PolarPortal) July 29, 2021
According to climate scientist Xavier Fettweis of the University of Liege in Belgium, more than half of that mass (12 gigatons) flowed into the ocean.
Prior heavy snowfall had allowed the remaining 10 gigatons to be absorbed and possibly refrozen, he said.
A gigaton is a mass unit that equals one billion metric tonnes (2.2 trillion pounds).
Summer temperatures in northern Greenland are currently exceeding 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), which is twice the summer average, according to the Danish Meteorological Institute.
Temperatures in the area reached 23.4 degrees Celsius on Thursday.