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Greenland lost more than 2 billion tons of ice, with over 40% of country experiencing 'unusual’ melting


Greenland lost more than 2 billion tons of ice Thursday, with more than 40% of the country experiencing melting. (Brennan Linsley / Associated Press)

Greenland lost more than 2 billion tons of ice Thursday, with more than 40% of the country experiencing melting.

A page run by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), dedicated to monitoring the Greenland Ice Sheet, shared that more than 2 gigantons — equivalent to 2 billion tons — of ice melted Thursday.

Although “unusual so early in the season," the melting is “not unprecedented," the update run by the DMI said.

The widespread melting was caused by atmospheric circulation in the Arctic and North Atlantic.

Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia who studies Greenland’s climate, told CNN the spike in melting is “comparable” to record-setting melting in 2012 — when 97% of the ice sheet experienced surface melting, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center.

Patterns over recent decades have shown increased melting and rising temperatures.

“Greenland has been an increasing contributor to global sea level rise over the past two decades,” Mote told CNN, “and surface melting and runoff is a large portion of that.”

As shown on a chart comparing Greenland’s ice melting in 2019 to the median from 1981 to 2010, the levels for June spike far above the medians for previous years.

Climate in Greenland has been changing, causing concern in some scientists.

A recent study evaluating the climate of Greenland over 34 years found the average air temperature over the ice sheet increased 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter from 1988 to 2012. It was also found that much of the country experienced rainfall that caused the ice sheet to melt — even in the winter.

Continuing weather patterns may cause continued melting throughout the season, Mote said.

Mote told CNN “all signs seem to be pointing to a large melt season.”

If North Atlantic Oscillation (A) is “persistently negative this year," Greenland will likely see increased melting and loss to the ice sheet, according to a page on Greenland’s Ice sheet from the DMI.

A is “an irregular fluctuation of atmospheric pressure over the North Atlantic Ocean that has a strong effect on winter weather” in areas including Greenland, according to Britannica.