Newly published research suggests that Greenland's ice melted super fast last summer, and the world's ice could soon melt faster than anybody had anticipated -- all because of pretty white clouds hanging low above frigid seas.
Last year's Greenland ice sheet melt was considered a 1-in-150 year phenomenon -- the most dramatic melting season since 1979. It was cause for alarm because, when ice melts, it turns into water that raises the sea levels. If Greenland's ice sheet totally disappeared, the seas could swell by an estimated 24 feet, drowning many of the world's coastal cities.
"Of course, there is more than one cause for such widespread change," said University of Wisconsin atmospheric and oceanic sciences professor Ralf Bennartz, one of the authors of a study published today in Nature that concludes that the clouds that drifted over Greenland last summer bore properties that could be likened to a perfect ice-melting storm. "We focused our study on certain kinds of low-level clouds."