A Warming World brings forth a Melting Greenland

By: Tanya Arora

Hours-long rain showers over the Greenland summit pose a problem for all of us. Below is a summary of how it all started, and the repercussions we are yet to see. 

Climatic Impact Drivers (or CID’s) are factors that affect climate change on earth. They either have a beneficial, detrimental, or a neutral impact on climate change. For ease in determining the net change, these have been divided into 7 categories, an important one of these is Snow and Ice. 

In the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report, it has been clearly stated that we are most likely to surpass the 1.5 degree celsius target and that our aim should be to limit the warming to between 2 – 4 degree celsius. This news is extremely worrisome, since all ecosystems on our planet lie in an extremely delicate and intricate balance. An even admonishing piece of news brought into light by the report is that the polar regions would be warming at a rate twice that of the average. With only a single degree difference between freezing and melting temperatures, an increase in temperatures by 4-8 degree celsius at the poles (assuming that average warming rate is 2-4 degree celsius) would lead to melting of enormous volumes of ice sheets and sea ice, further causing warming due to absorption of heat by the dark waters due to albedo effect. This positive feedback loop would hence only exacerbate climate change contributing to sea levels rise, natural disasters and further warming of the planet. 

This focal point of worry was turned into reality when for the first time in history, the world stood awestruck as it rained over Greenlands’ summit (none recorded since 1980, when observations began and even before with the help of ice core study). It was proof for all climate change sceptics that an apocalyptic future looms over us. Usually Greenland experiences declining temperatures and accumulation of ice and snow in the month of August. In contrast, this time due to above freezing temperatures (has happened only 6 years according to the study of ice cores), and precipitation in the form of rain, greenlands’ mass of sea ice has reduced significantly. The warming post the rain resulted in melting of over 50% of the ice sheet surface. Since the summit is at a higher elevation this melt won’t contribute to sea level rise, however, if a similar situation occurs at lower elevations, it would result in more visible and harsh changes. It has been stated by various sources that melting Greenland would eventually lead to sea level rise by 23 feet. This event marks the beginning of a plausible rise in climate refugees due to sea level rise in the near future. 


1. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/20/climate/greenland-rain-ice-sheet.html 

2. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Greenland/greenland_sidebar.php 

3. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#SPM

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