Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Melting of the Greenland’s Snow Cover


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Greenland

Mains level: Not Much

Recently the summit of Greenland received rain and not snow. This has sparked fear as scientists are pointing to it as evidence that Greenland is warming rapidly.

About Greenland

  • Greenland is the world’s largest island located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
  • It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
  • Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers).
  • The majority of its residents are Inuit, whose ancestors migrated from Alaska through Northern Canada, gradually settling across the island by the 13th century.
  • It has three-quarters of its surface covered with a permanent ice sheet, which is increasingly coming under threat because of climate change.

Rain at Greenland: The rarest phenomenon

  • At the highest point on Greenland’s ice sheet, the US maintains a Summit Station, a research facility that observes changes occurring over the island as well as in Arctic weather.
  • Researchers observed rain at the normally frigid summit, with the precipitation extending up to Greenland’s southeast coast.
  • The rain, coupled with warm conditions, caused a major melting event at the summit.
  • This led to rapid ice melting running off into the ocean in volumes, thus accelerating global sea-level rise.

A cause of worry

  • Greenland, which is two-thirds the size of India, already witnessed one of its most severe melting events.
  • It has lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass in one day– the third such extreme event in the past decade.
  • The UN’s “code red” climate report released last week concluded that the burning of fossil fuels led to Greenland melting in the last 20 years.
  • The rapid melting is also threatening polar bears, which now have to make their way hundreds of kilometers towards Greenland’s interior from the coasts, where they usually find enough food.

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