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NASA releases images of Greenland's freaky rapid thaw

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published July 25, 2012

In a NASA satellite image dated July 8, Greenland looks fairly normal. The autonomous country shows off its signature white ice cap through the contrast of NASA's color coding: grey for ice/snow free, light pink for probable melt, dark pink for melt and white for no melt. Things look, more or less, predictable.

Flash forward to July 12, only four days after the original satellite image. Greenland is pink. The whole ice-capped island indicates probable melt (light pink) or definite melt (dark pink); with the majority confirming definite melt.

According to a statement published by NASA, scientist Son Nghiem who analyzed the data, was so startled by the difference in the images that he questioned whether the results were real, or if they were due to an error. However, after extended measures, one thing is for sure: it's no error. So, what happened here?

NASA suggest that "this extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland," and added, "researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise."

Regardless of what caused the mega melt, the difference in the images is shocking. To see the photos and read more visit NASA's statement here.

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