Menu
Share
Share this story
Close X
 
Switch to Desktop Site

What caused the sudden massive ice melt in Greenland? (+video)

The rapid melting of 97 percent of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet in just four days has left scientists puzzled.

In Greenland, a glacier breaking off into the water causes a massive ice wave that collides with a boat filled with tourists. The tourists speed off, narrowly escaping the wave's full wrath.
About these ads

Nearly all of Greenland's massive ice sheet suddenly started melting a bit this month, a freak event that surprised scientists.

Even Greenland's coldest and highest place, Summit station, showed melting. Ice core records show that last happened in 1889 and occurs about once every 150 years.

Three satellites show what NASA calls unprecedented melting of the ice sheet that blankets the island, starting on July 8 and lasting four days. Most of the thick ice remains. While some ice usually melts during the summer, what was unusual was that the melting happened in a flash and over a widespread area.

"You literally had this wave of warm air wash over the Greenland ice sheet and melt it," NASA ice scientist Tom Wagner said Tuesday.

The ice melt area went from 40 percent of the ice sheet to 97 percent in four days, according to NASA. Until now, the most extensive melt seen by satellites in the past three decades was about 55 percent.

Wagner said researchers don't know how much of Greenland's ice melted, but it seems to be freezing again.

"When we see melt in places that we haven't seen before, at least in a long period of time, it makes you sit up and ask what's happening?" NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati said. It's a big signal, the meaning of which we're going to sort out for years to come."

Next

Page:   1   |   2


Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.

Loading...