The rainfall led to the ice sheet's most recent melt event, an occurrence in which the ice begins to melt due to the rise in temperature. The ice melted at a rate that is seven times more than the daily average observed during this time of the year.
About a month ago, scientists were alarmed when it rained at the highest point of Greenland’s ice sheet for the first time. Rain in a place that hardly ever sees temperatures rising above freezing is the latest sign of global warming and highlights the threat of submerging cities and altering coastlines in the future.
"This is an extreme event as it may never have happened before. This is probably a sign of global warming," Martin Stendel, a researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told Wion.
What happened in Greenland?
According to the US National Snow & Ice Data Centre, rainfall was observed for several hours at an elevation of 10,551 feet in Greenland on August 14 as temperatures in the location soared above freezing for the third time in a decade.
The rainfall led to the ice sheet's most recent melt event, an occurrence in which the ice begins to melt due to the rise in temperature. The ice melted at a rate that is seven times more than the daily average observed during this time of the year. This was also the heaviest rainfall that Greenland has received since the US National Snow & Ice Data Centre started recording.
Located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, Greenland is the world’s largest island with three-quarters of its surface covered with a permanent ice sheet. The island is two-thirds the size of India.
The ice sheet contains more ice than all other glaciers and ice fields in the world combined, outside Antarctica. The ice starts to melt when the planet heats due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. The melt events have caused Greenland to lose more ice in the last 10 years than it did in the previous century.
In 2019, Greenland lost 532 billion tonnes of ice due to a heatwave in July. The meltdown led to the global sea level rising by 1.5 millimetres. Scientists believe, by 2050 the Arctic Ocean is likely to witness ice-free summer months due to extreme climate changes. This will lead to sea levels rising by 20 feet, said an NBC report.
In a paper published in Nature two years earlier, a consortium of scientists said tens of millions of people are likely to face annual floods and be displaced by 2030 if Greenland continues to melt.
Who should worry?
Low-lying coastal areas and densely populated regions like the cities of Mumbai, Miami, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangkok, Laos and New York should worry as the meltdown will raise the sea level. Rapid meltdown is also a threat to polar bears that live near the coast and are now being forced to move.