The 11 billion tons of ice are equal to 4.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools
Greenland’s ice sheet reportedly lost 11 billion tons of ice on Thursday, amid a melt season that scientists say is more extreme than in recent years.
CNN reports that Greenland’s ice sheet normally goes through a melt season during the summer. The melting usually starts around the end of May, but this year’s began at the start of the month instead.
Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute, told the outlet that the sheet has been melting “persistently” since May, during hot summer months that have recorded all-time temperature highs in Europe and other parts of the world.
According to data from the Polar Portal, which is run by Danish research institutions, Thursday marked the biggest melt day of the season so far, with about 11 billion tons of ice lost to the ocean.
Prior to Thursday’s melt, the ice sheet had melted 197 billion tons of ice in July alone, according to CNN. Mottram told the outlet that the expected average at this time of year would be between 60 and 70 billion tons.
The 11 billion tons lost on Thursday is equal to 4.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to CNN, while July’s total 197 billion tons could fill about 80 million of the pools.
Mottram told the outlet that Greenland’s warm weather is expected to continue for the next few days. The melt season typically lasts until the end of August.
“The heatwave has certainly contributed to the very high numbers we saw yesterday and the day before,” Mottram explained to CBS News of the effect that the recent temperature highs have on the ice.
“The melt area has also been a lot bigger when the warm air mass from Europe arrived, but it has been a long period of warm and dry weather since May and following a dry winter so it’s a little extra push rather than the main cause of the very high ice loss we’ve observed,” she added.
According to CBS News, 82 percent of Greenland’s surface is covered in ice and its ice sheet is the second biggest in the world, following the Antarctic. The melting of the two ice sheets contributes to higher sea levels worldwide, the outlet reports.