440 Billion Tons of Ice Are Expected to Melt This Summer in Greenland — What That Means for Earth

Should all the ice in Greenland melt, it would raise sea levels around the world by 20 feet

Greenland ice
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty

Scientists are warning that a major heatwave in Greenland could lead to a whole lot of melted glacier ice this summer – 440 billion tons, to be exact.

A new report by the Associated Press took a detailed look at the dire situation in Greenland, and noted that the record-shattering heat from July 31 to Aug. 3 melted 58 billion tons of ice.

The National Snow & Ice Data Center notes that that figure is about 40 billion tons more than the 1981 to 2010 average for the same time period.

By the end of the summer, 440 billion tons are expected to have vanished, reportedly enough to flood Pennsylvania or the entire country of Greece about one foot deep.

“There’s every reason to believe that years that look like this will become more common,” University of Georgia ice scientist Tom Mote told the outlet.

Take, for example, Helheim. The glacier, one of Greenland’s fastest-retreating, has shrunk about six miles since 2005.

NASA oceanographer Josh Willis points the finger at both man-made climate change, and natural “but weird” weather patterns, and he believes that by the year 2100, ice from just Greenland could cause 3 or 4 more feet of sea level rise.

“[It’s] the end of the planet,” New York University air and ocean scientist David Holland told the AP. “It takes a really long time to grow an ice sheet, thousands and thousands of years, but they can be broken up or destroyed quite rapidly.”

Holland believes that Greenland’s melting ice problem comes in part from warm, salty water coming in from the Gulf Stream in North America.

A previous AP report claimed that there’s enough ice in Greenland that should it all melt, sea levels around the world would rise by 20 feet.

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