Over 40 percent of Greenland experienced some level of melting Thursday, experts report.
Greenland lost over two billion tons of ice after a major melt Thursday, scientists at the University of Georgia said, calling the event ”unusual, but not unprecedented.”
Research scientist Thomas Mote, an expert in Greenland’s climate said, "We've seen a sequence of these large melt seasons, starting in 2007, that would have been unprecedented earlier in the record … we didn't see anything like this prior to the late 1990's."
Usually, the melting season extends from June to August, with the majority of dissipation occurring in July.
However, this year’s dry, rising temperatures contributed to thinner ice sheets along the country’s western edge. The icy surface works as a mirror, typically reflecting the sun’s glare, a phenomenon known as the albedo effect. However, this year’s low snowpack left the ice sheet unprotected and weaker than usual.
Xavier Fettweis, a researcher at the University of Liege in Greenland, explained, “Due to a lower winter accumulation than normal, the bare ice area has been exposed very early in this area enhancing the melt due to the melt-albedo feedback. Therefore, at the beginning of the melt season, the snowpack along the west coast is now preconditioned to break records of melt.”
As a result, over 40 percent of Greenland experienced some level of melting.
Experts warn that this incident will likely continue as time progresses, adding that such early melting patterns predict a record-setting summer in 2019.