The melting Arctic is on dramatic display.
At mid-June, Arctic sea ice is now at a record low for this time of year, and melted ice is especially notable both in and around Greenland — home to the second largest ice sheet on the planet. Steffen Olsen, a climate researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute, snapped a photo on Thursday of Greenland sea ice that had melted into a large lake of aqua water, pooled atop the icy surface.
Olsen, along with local hunters, had to sled across the flooded ice to retrieve vulnerable weather and ocean monitoring equipment. Their sled dogs splashed through the icy water.
The adventurous sledding took place in the middle of an inlet called Inglefield Bredning, located in northwestern Greenland. Sea ice beneath the pooled water is still some 4 feet (1.2 meters) thick, though Olsen tweeted that his team is dependent upon indigenous knowledge of the dodgy terrain to safely navigate.
Communities in #Greenland rely on the sea ice for transport, hunting and fishing. Extreme events, here flooding of the ice by abrupt onset of surface melt call for an incresed predictive capacity in the Arctic @BG10Blueaction @polarprediction @dmidk https://t.co/Y1EWU1eurA
— Steffen M. Olsen (@SteffenMalskaer) June 14, 2019
Temperatures have spiked in Greenland this week, resulting in melting not just of sea ice, but of ice across the surface of nearly half the giant island. Greenland has had big melting episodes before, but this one certainly falls into the category of extreme.
On Thursday alone, Greenland lost 2 billion metric tons of ice.
Yesterday (13th June), we calculate #Greenland #icesheet lost more than 2 Gt (2 km³) of ice,, melt was widespread but didn't quite get to #SummitCamp which was just below 0°C
The high melt is unusual so early in the season but not unprecedentedhttps://t.co/Ftg0fkC7AK pic.twitter.com/Y4jQ1FoFRZ
— Greenland (@greenlandicesmb) June 14, 2019
Though warming spells come and go each year, overall, the big picture across the melting landmass is clear: The Arctic is the fastest warming region of the world, an increase in background warming makes warm spells all the more extreme, and ice-clad Greenland is metaphorically in hot water.
"We see now that it's melting faster than at any point in at least the last three and a half centuries, and likely the last seven or eight millennia," Luke Trusel, a geologist at Rowan University told Mashable in December.
A bit of perspective might be useful here.
The 2019 melt extent sets a new daily record for mid-June, but it is only a little bit higher than has occurred in a few other years. More of an incremental worsening than a dramatic one. pic.twitter.com/tAY3QgyvyT
— Robert Rohde (@RARohde) June 14, 2019
The Arctic, of which Greenland is a major part, is now changing at rates some Arctic scientists struggle to explain.
"I’m losing the ability to communicate the magnitude [of change]," Jeremy Mathis, a longtime Arctic researcher and a current board director at the National Academies of Sciences told Mashable earlier this week. "I’m running out of adjectives to describe the scope of change we’re seeing."