Greenland, the world’s biggest island situated between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, has a permanent ice sheet covering three-quarters of its surface, which is increasingly threatened by climate change.
For the first time in history, the peak of Greenland experienced rain rather than snow on Saturday last week, just as temperatures there surpassed freezing for the third time in less than ten years. Scientists are referring to the incident as proof that Greenland is quickly warming, which has caused concern.
The National Science Foundation of the United States operates a Summit Station, a research station that monitors changes on the island as well as in Arctic weather, near the highest point on Greenland’s ice sheet.
Rain was seen at the normally icy top on Saturday, with the precipitation continuing up Greeland’s southeast coast.
According to a news release, the melting event that day encompassed 337,000 square miles (Greenland’s ice sheet spans 656,000 square miles), and the sheet absorbed 7 billion tonnes of rain over three days.
According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, this was the greatest rainfall that the ice sheet has seen since records began in 1950, with ice melting rates seven times higher than the daily average for this time of year on Sunday.
Water is not only warmer than snow, but it is also darker, absorbing more light rather than reflecting it away.
Sea levels are rising as a result of the meltwater flowing into the ocean. Greenland’s ice sheet, the world’s second-largest behind Antarctica’s, has already contributed to about 25% of global sea-level increase over the last several decades, according to scientists. As global temperatures rise, this percentage is predicted to rise.
Why it is a thing to worry
Greenland is two-thirds the size of India and recorded one of the most catastrophic melting events in the recent decade last month, when it lost 8.5 billion tonnes of surface mass in a single day, the third such extreme occurrence in the last decade. In the last 20 years, the use of fossil fuels has caused Greenland to melt, according to the UN’s “code red” climate study released last week.
Due to the spring months and a heatwave in July of that year, the island lost roughly 532 billion tonnes of ice to the sea in 2019, contributing to the global sea level increasing by 1.5 mm permanently.
According to some climate models, summers in the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by 2050 as a result of significant climate changes.
According to an NBC story, if this occurs, sea levels might increase by 20 feet, posing a threat to low-lying cities such as Mumbai, New York, and Amsterdam.
This, in addition, poses a greater threat to the polar bears, who might now have to walk to the interiors of Greenland for shelter and food.
[Polar bears are considered endangered in the U.S. and are listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN because their sea ice habitat is under threat from climate change.]