Satellite Spots Vast Greenland Ice Melt

97% surface melt unprecedented in 30 years of satellite observations

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 25, 2012 4:16 AM CDT | Updated Jul 25, 2012 6:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Greenland isn't just losing Manhattan-sized chunks of ice from its huge glaciers. A heat-dome that moved over Greenland on July 8 caused surface melt to soar from 40% to an unprecedented 97% in just four days, reports Live Science. Typically, just half of Greenland's surface ice melts during the summer. "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: Was this real or was it due to a data error?" said one researcher.

There were even signs of ice melt at Summit Station in central Greenland, a point two miles high and near the thickest part of the ice sheet. "Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average," said one glaciologist. "With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time." However, she cautioned that such a wide-ranging melt was rare and a potential warning. "If we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," she told the Guardian.

Satellite images that show the extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8, left, and July 12, right.
Satellite images that show the extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8, left, and July 12, right.   (AP Photo/Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory)
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