Last Thursday, the capital of Greenland reached a record 75° Fahrenheit. To put that in context, that was hotter than it was in New York City that same day. It was also the highest temperature ever recorded in Greenland during the month of June.
What’s extra scary about this? Keep in mind that Greenland is covered in enough ice that if it all melts it will raise global sea level by more than 20 feet.
May was the hottest May globally on record. At the poles the temperature deviation was as much as 17°F (9.4°C) above the 1951-1980 average for the month. This might just be an anomalous month if it wasn’t for the outstanding fact that the hottest May followed the hottest April, March, February and January. Despite the fact that 2015 was the hottest year we ever recorded, NASA predicts that we have a 99 percent chance that 2016 will break that record.
Some parts of Greenland are feeling the extremes quite dramatically. NASA has stated that some parts of Greenland were 36°F (20°C) hotter than “normal.” And to be fair, NASA now defines normal based on the 2001–2010 average, and not the usual 1951-1980 normal it used to compare to. That means this deviation was already on top of a century of warming thanks to our fossil-fuel-burning behaviours.
The record temperatures this month have led to an unusually high ice melt covering almost half of Greenland’s ice sheet. Greenland contains the second-largest amount of land-locked ice in the world, after Antarctica. If it all melts, it will raise sea levels by 20 feet. (Sell your Manhattan apartment and your Miami condo while you still have time.)
So let’s start preparing for the circumstances we’ve created for our planet. We have no one to blame but ourselves. For a long time we didn’t know any better. But we can’t use that excuse any longer.