The European Heatwave is Melting the Greenland Ice Sheet

The Salomon Freeski team on the Greenland Ice Sheet, 2017.

You’ve probably heard about the insane heatwave in Europe going on right now, smashing records and putting stress on everything from human lives, to water, to agriculture. The worst part? Scientists have postured that the heat-wave was at the very least enhanced by man-made climate change,  according to a study published last Friday.

“What will be the impacts on agriculture? What will the impacts on water?” said Robert Vautard of the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace in France. “This will put really tension in society that we may not be so well equipped to cope with.”

According to the study, temperatures would have been 1.5-3 degrees Celcius lower without human-induced climate change. And while that doesn’t seem like a big deal to humans, it is having a profound effect in Greenland, home to world’s second-largest ice-sheet. If you think that’s just Greenland’s problem, think again.

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Home to the world’s second-largest ice-sheet, melting from the sheet has a drastic effect on sea-level rise and weather across the globe, which can be a huge problem for coastal communities all around the world. This year, the ice sheet started melting in May, and with the impending heatwave, the temperature will rise to above freezing, a temperature unprecedented at this time of year for the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The studies were conducted by calculating the odds of this type of heat occurring now and how often it would have happened without man-made global warming and then compared the two. The results were clear—without the human-induced effects of climate change, these heat waves wouldn’t be nearly as intense. It’s not totally clear what the heightened intensity will bring, but the immediate returns are not looking good. —ML