Recent satellite images from NASA have shown that the Greenland ice melt has reached unprecedented levels during the summer season, nearly doubling the normal amount.
According to a NASA press release, about half of Greenland’s surface ice sheet naturally melts during an average summer. But the data from three independent satellites this July, analyzed by NASA and university scientists, showed that in less than a week, the amount of thawed ice sheet surface spiked from 40 percent to 97 percent.
The drastic change in percentage had Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory first speculating about the validity of the images. “This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: Was this real or was it due to a data error?”
The data was further confirmed by three different NASA labs and has increased the already growing attention that this region has been receiving. Just last week Greenland’s Peterman Glacier calved an ice island twice the size of Manhattan.
Although one large ice melt can be a natural occurrence, there have been reportedly higher temperatures in Greenland than ever before, which has many stating that these events need to be closely watched and taken seriously.
“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. “But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”