Thursday, 9 August 2012

Sudden and alarming Greenland ice melt.

 "Apocalyptic," say environmentalists.

Image: NASA: Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right).

Greenland's surface ice cover has melted over a larger area than at any time in recorded history, says NASA, and is the worst in 30 years of satellite observations. The phenomenon is usual in summer, but the spread, speed and intensity of the abrupt climate change- believed to have happened sometime in mid July- has alarmed everybody, including the NASA scientist who first analysed data from an Indian satellite- he thought there was a computer error. 

One environmentalist is calling it a "game changer"  "apocalyptic", and exceeding "all expectations".  Experts are also trying to figure out if the unprecedented drought in the US this year is linked to the ice melt. Satellite 'Melt maps' showed dramatically that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had melted. By July 12, 97 percent had melted.

"Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites," a NASA press release stated, adding that researchers "have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise." 

Says NASA, "Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was analysing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that most of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12. Nghiem said, 'This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?'

NASA's Tom Wagner says other recent abnormal natural developments are linked to the melting of Greenland's ice. "This event, combined with other natural but uncommon phenomena, such as the large calving event last week on Petermann Glacier, are part of a complex story."

Alarmingly, even the area around Summit Station in central Greenland, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point of the ice sheet, showed signs of melting, NASA says, something that has not occurred since 1889. Glaciologist Lora Koenig analysed the data and said that it would be "worrisome" if events like this continued in the coming years. 

 Environmentalist are calling for governments across the world to come together and agree to defensive ecological policies. They claim that such abnormal phenomena- like the Greenland ice melt- are entirely consistent with scientific predictions regarding expected impact of climate change. 

"We ignore such evidence of potentially apocalyptic abrupt climate change and global ecological collapse at our peril. The Greenland ice sheet melting in a few days is shocking evidence of a global ecological emergency, and clearly highlights the urgency of immediately reducing greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of intact ecosystems, and growth in economies, consumption and population. The age of destroying ecosystems for resources must end, as we embrace ecological protection and restoration as society's central organizing principles." said Dr. Barry, President and Founder  of Ecological Internet, who agrees that mankind is facing a 'perfect storm' of ecological and social problems- driven by overpopulation, over-consumption and environmentally damaging technologies- and is heading for disaster. 


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