Greenland Becomes Meltland

Posted on July 25, 2012

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In our new world climate, 97% of Greenland turns to slush

Climate change is not warming the planet evenly.  In fact, it’s heating up at the poles far faster than at the equator, and this is having echo-effects throughout the system.

Spin a top quickly and it will spin stably.  But when it slows down, the difference in speed between the centre of the top and its outer edges becomes less and less.  Then it will wobble.

The extreme temperature differences between the Arctic and the lands south of the Arctic created more-or-less stable climate systems.  Under climate change, those systems are turning wobbly as the extreme temperature differences between north and south become progressively less and less.

One system long held stable by temperature differentials, the jet stream, is responsible for pushing weather systems west to east across the continents.  The jet stream always had kinks in it, but with climate change, those kinks have become exaggerated.  Weather systems are being caught in loops, stalling over regions rather than moving on, consequently extending and sometimes intensifying the effects of these systems.  The record-setting Russian heatwave of 2010 and the simultaneous and associated flooding in China and Pakistan are the result of such a stalled system.  So are the heatwaves that brought wildfires to Colorado and are presently threatening the US corn and soybean crops.

And in mid-July, a heat dome formed over Greenland and brought them a heatwave more intense and widespread than any seen since 1889.  As a result, 97% of Greenland turned to slush.

Heatwaves in Greenland?  Soon it will be time for the Vikings to launch a few a new settlements together with a re-christening ceremony for the world’s largest, iciest island.

I suggest Meltland.  Or Slushland.

Scientists, by the way, aren’t yet concerned by the mid-July melt.  They say Greenland’s ice sheet wouldn’t be destabilized or endangered by such a melting event unless two of them happened almost back-to-back, that is, within a decade of each other.

Not to worry, then.  We’ll just keep our fingers crossed that no more untoward heatwaves strike Greenland between now and, say, 2022.  After that we’ll be home-free.

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See Satellites Observe Widespread Melting Event on Greenland – NASA