When scientist Steffen M. Olson had a task that required him to travel through Inglefield Bredning in Northwest Greenland, he expected to travel on sea ice, not water.
During his visit to Greenland on June 13, he discovered that the sea ice was melting one month faster than usual as sea ice was melting rapidly.
Apparently, it was not just the area where he visited that was melting.
@SteffenMalskaer got the difficult task of retrieving our oceanographic moorings and weather station on sea ice in North West Greenland this year. Rapid melt and sea ice with low permeability and few cracks leaves the melt water on top. pic.twitter.com/ytlBDTrVeD
— Rasmus Tonboe (@RasmusTonboe) June 14, 2019
Over 40% of Greenland is now experiencing extreme melting with a total loss of ice estimated to be more than 2 gigatons or 2 billion tons than usual in just a single day.
— Greenland (@greenlandicesmb) June 14, 2019
In other words, the weight of ice loss is equivalent to 340 Giza pyramids or 80,000 Statues of Liberty or 12 million blue whales.
While The Arctic’s melt season is a common phenomenon which occurs every year starting June until August, the ice loss taking place this year is happening at an alarming rate.
According to CNN, this year saw the ice started to melt earlier than in 2012 and three weeks earlier than average. The scale of ice loss early in the summer could once again set Greenland a new record for the amount of ice loss in Greenland.
Even worse, the premature loss of ice in Greenland would lead to the albedo effect.
The albedo effect refers to the amount of the Sun’s energy reflected back into Space. White snow and ice help reflect more the Sun’s energy into Space, hence, they help to cool the land and preventing further melt.
On the other hand, when there are less snow and ice cover, it means more energy will be absorbed from the Sun which will lead to temperature rises and more ice will melt.
Another likely factor of this year’s rapid ice melt is the consistent humid, high-temperature air from the Central Atlantic making its way to Greenland.
“We’ve had a blocking ridge that has been anchored over East Greenland throughout much of the spring, which led to some melting activity in April – and that pattern has persisted,” Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia, told CNN.