Something Horrifying Is Happening to the Weather in Greenland

June 16th 2016

Almie Rose

We need to talk about Greenland. What's happening to Greenland's climate right now is like the opening of an action movie about the apocalypse in which A-list actors play scientists who write long math equations and mutter things like, "No...this can't be happening."

Thankfully, we are not in an action movie, though Greenland's weather is still troubling: It's getting hot in Greenland. Like, record-breaking hot. Like, hotter than New York was last week hot (Greenland's high was 75 degrees; New York's was 66 degrees Fahrenheit).

Yes, 75 degrees Fahrenheit doesn't sound like anything alarming, but here's the thing:

  1. That's the highest temperature ever recorded in Greenland in June, and
  2. Greenland is, to put it simply, pretty much covered in ice. Enough ice to "raise sea levels more than 20 feet," according to ThinkProgress.

NASA reported on Greenland's rising surface temperatures in April of this year. Though April in Greenland is usually cold, it's been starting to warm up ever since 2012 (not this "2012").

greenland temperatures map

The above map shows surface temperatures of Greenland in 2016, as compared to the average temperatures of April of 2001-2010. The red represents a hotter than average temperature (about a full 36 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, or 20 degrees Celsius). Blue is lower than average. Anything that's white is average. Anything that's grey just means there wasn't enough data to analyze.

April was in fact, the hottest April ever recorded. So was March (hottest March ever recorded). Also February (ever recorded). January, too (same). And that's particularly troublesome for Greenland, because the ice there is melting.

melting ice caps greenland map

And when that happens, we're subjected to sad videos of polar bears scrambling on melting ice caps and Al Gore lectures.

But most importantly, global rising sea levels that could mean rising tides for costal cities like Miami. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that there is strong evidence that sea levels are rising at an increasing rate, perhaps as much as 0.12 inches per year. Experts believe that by 2060, the ocean level will have risen by two feet, leaving the western half Miami Beach under water. Not even Will Smith can save us from that.

What does this mean for Greenland?

Anders la Cour Vahl, Deputy Director at Visit Greenland (a tourism organization) told CNN, "You can see how glaciers have been retreating. You can see the marks on the sides of the glacier where it used to be and where it is now." But weirdly, there's a bright side to all this: it makes for good tourism.

Why? "Actually being there and being a witness to what is happening to our environment, that has great appeal," La Cour Vahl explained.

[H/T ThinkProgress]