Greenland just made a new record, and it’s not worth boasting about. The country recently lost 12.5 billion tons of ice in a single day, accounting for almost 60% of the nation’s total surface area. By Bayar Jain
Scientists recently noticed a drastic dip in the ice levels of the largely frozen nation of Greenland. Located in the Northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans, the country is known for its natural phenomena such as midnight sun, and northern lights. Though mesmerising, soon these mystical marvels could become a thing of the past as the country is drowning due to large scale melting. Over the past few days, temperatures of the region reached above freezing levels. As a result, the country lost close to 12.5 billion tons of surface ice in just 24 hours. This is almost 60% of the country’s total surface area! As ice melts, the water so obtained runs off to the ocean, in turn raising the overall water levels. In this case, the current ice melt has resulted in the addition of almost 10 billion gallons of water into the ocean. Too hard to visualise? Just imagine that this is more than 400,000 Olympic size swimming pools put together!
This meltdown is even more alarming due to the factors causing it. Brought on due to the combined forces of North Africa and Spain’s warm airs, along with the windy hot and dry weather from Siberia and Russia’s forest fires, Greenland is stuck in the middle battling a slew of Arctic wildfires. Compounding this melt is the fact that low ice and snow accumulation earlier this year resulted in already low levels of Greenland’s ice sheets.
Although heatwaves have always been a part of geological history, it is believed that this is the largest single day meltdown to take place since 1950. A similar catastrophic meltdown also took place in July 2012, probably only the third one to take place in seven centuries. As per the UN World Meteorological Organisation, extreme heatwaves are now occurring at least ten times more frequently than they did a century ago.
On a relatively positive note, though, the warm weather has started to subside in this fjord-lined island nation. This gives ice sheets time to solidify once more and give another chance to restore the ice cover. Although the immediate crises may seem averted, a slow doom is impending as the effects of the 12.5 billion tons of ice water released into the ocean looms over our heads and is bound to strike back sooner, if not later.