The implications of climate change were on full display in the summers of 2019 when an enormous amount of ice sheets began melting in Greenland. On a single day, approximately 12 billion tonnes of ice melted off its glacier and poured into the Atlantic ocean. And within just five days between July and August, the ice sheets lost 55 billion tonnes of water. These ice sheets have been melting, on and off, for over a decade now but the rate has been accelerated due to climate change. The spells of heats waves from Europe which hit Arctic regions and warming ocean water, triggered this rapid melt. Not to overplay the event but the repercussions of Greenland melting would not only affect its ecosystem locally but people all over the planet will also face its dire consequences. Scientists estimate that if all the Greenland ice melted, it would cause the global sea levels to rise between six and seven meters. This would swallow the coastal cities and put its populations at an extreme threat.
What we saw in 2019 wasn’t expected by scientists, at least, for another fifty years. Not only it mirrored the catastrophic melt of ice sheets and ice loss in 2012 when over 250 billion tonnes of ice melted that year, but its early onset also indicated that how climate change has brought irregularity in its melting season. The burst of heat waves which lashed entire Europe when reached Greenland amplified the rate of its ice sheet melting. With melting ice, dark coloured pools began to form which further absorbed hot air and started heating the glaciers around it. When the permafrost melts, it releases more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causing more global warming. The warm dry air which triggered the melting also led to several incidents of wildfires in the region which further caused more heating.
Scientists forecast that this unprecedented rate of Arctic melt will have an adverse effect on the weather patterns around the world. With soaring polar temperature, we can expect severe winters, deadly summers and torrential floods in the future. Polar regions are supposed to be cold. However, with heating Arctic region, the temperature difference between it and the lower latitudes has been lowered, which is causing an irregular jet stream leading to weaker wind patterns across the globe, unfolding extreme events.
Greenland is home to the second biggest ice sheet in the world with 80 per cent of its surface covered in ice. Since 1972, its ice sheets melting has already raised the sea levels by more than 0.5 inches. If the rate of melting continues, within a thousand year, the entire Greenland ice sheet would melt which would cause up to 23 feet of sea-level rise. So, is there anything we can do about it? To an extent, yes! All of us need to pitch in to slow down climate change or face its repercussions. It is almost inevitable that our planet will be warmer by the end of the century but we can still put a brake on it and control the rate at which global warming is happening. It is time to reduce carbon emission, switch to cleaner energy and adopt a sustainable lifestyle.