Europe's Heat Wave Is Melting Billions of Tons of Ice in Greenland

RobertH82/iStock via Getty Images
RobertH82/iStock via Getty Images / RobertH82/iStock via Getty Images

Mainland Europe has survived the worst of a heat wave that broke records last month, but in Greenland, the trouble is just beginning. As CNN reports, the high temperatures have moved north and are currently melting Greenland's ice sheet at a rate of billions of tons of ice per day, which is resulting in sea level rise across the globe.

This year has already been harrowing for the Greenland ice sheet, the second largest in the world. Normally, the sheet starts losing ice in the summer, but in 2019, the melting began in May. That put it on track to break the record for total ice melt set in 2012. Last month, 197 billion tons of ice disappeared from Greenland, and on August 1 alone, 11 billion tons of ice melted into the sea.

Such historic rates of ice loss aren't just Greenland's problem. The melted ice from July added enough freshwater to the ocean to raise global sea levels by 0.5 millimeters. That number could reach 1 millimeter or more by the end of the year, and in tropical parts of the world, levels will creep even higher.

One millimeter sounds small, but even minor increases in global sea levels can be disastrous. More frequent floods and erosion, as well as deadlier hurricanes and typhoons, are just some of the consequences of melted polar ice flooding the world's oceans.

Following July's heat wave, European scientists concluded that the soaring temperatures were linked to human-caused climate change. They emphasized the need to reduce carbon emissions in order to mitigate similar extreme heat events in the future.

[h/t CNN]