Greenland, the Arctic nation that is basically one huge ice cube, is feeling rather balmy lately.
The island experienced the highest temperatures ever recorded on June 9, when air temperature in Nuuk, the capital city, soared to 75 degrees F. While that may seem like no sweat, the average high for this time of year between 1961 and 1990 was just 44 degrees F, and even Greenland’s hottest month rarely broke 50.
But that was then. That record-breaking day in June was hotter in Nuuk than it was in New York City, while a heat wave in April saw warmer weather in Greenland than in Boston.
All this hot air caused Greenland’s sea ice, which is the size of Texas, to begin thawing nearly six weeks before normal this year. The rapid melting of over 12 percent of the ice sheet was so unusual in April that Danish Meteorological Institute scientist Peter Langen said they “had to check that our models were still working properly.”
It’s a bad omen of what’s to come as climate change ramps up: Scientists predict that if the Greenland ice sheet melted entirely, global seas would rise by more than 20 feet.
Granted, Greenland has a lot of ice, and melting all of it could take a few hundred years. By then, Greenland — and most coastal areas — will be gone for good.
Get Grist in your inbox