Henry Páll Wulff
Expedition Guide, Naturalist
Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator
After tormenting Europe for weeks, this year's heatwave is melting Greenland’s ice sheet at an unprecedented rate. As air temperatures over the ice rise, over half of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet had softened to slush. The result of this brutal setup is a summer melt season so intense that it’s on track to tie or break the record for the most water loss ever recorded. End of July, scientists recorded temperatures above 0°C at Greenland’s summit at over 3.000m altitude. This is only the third time temperatures have been recorded above freezing, but the second time this summer. These unusually high temperatures are accelerating ice loss from Greenland's Ice Sheet, which covers 80% of the island. By end of July, the area of the Greenland ice sheet showing indications of melt hit a record 56.5 per cent. On August 1st, thanks to 22°C, 12 billions tons of ice melted in just 24 hours, some 217 billion tons melted in the month of July, accumulating to an estimated 248 billion tons that have been lost so far this year, just on track of 2012’s record loss of 250 billion tons. The problem of melting polar ice creates a nasty positive feedback loop that meddles with the planet’s ability to cool off. Since ice is reflective, it does a good job at bouncing solar radiation back into space. However, with less ice, more of this heat energy is soaked up by the Earth and becomes trapped in the atmosphere.