NASA reports unusually high melting rates in Greenland

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reported on July 24 that Greenland’s surface ice melted at an unusually high rate during July.

According to a JPL release, the extent of surface ice melting occurred over the largest area of melting observed in the past 30 years. Three satellites contributed data that led to this conclusion.

Data from the satellites showed that thawing went from affecting 40 percent of the ice sheet on July 8 to 97 percent of the ice sheet on July 12. These data are approximations and are illustrated in the images to the left.

ESSIC Assistant Research Scientist Cezar Kongoli said that Greenland’s ice sheet does thaw naturally every summer. According to JPL, about 50 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet experiences this annual melting.

However, this year’s annual melt was much more extreme, and researchers are working to determine the effects that this could have on ice loss in Greenland and sea level rise.

“What they have seen via satellite data is a larger than usual extent of surface melting, which does not necessarily lead to ice loss, so these data need to be analyzed further,” Kongoli said.

For more details, read the JPL release here.