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WEATHER

 Heatwave causes massive melt of Greenland ice sheet

Greenland's ice sheet has experienced a "massive melting event" during a heatwave that has seen temperatures more than 10 degrees above seasonal norms, according to Danish researchers.

 Heatwave causes massive melt of Greenland ice sheet
In this photo taken on May 20th, 2021 ice recedes from a glacier as seen from an aerial helicopter tour with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken of ice caps and fjords near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP

Since Wednesday the ice sheet covering the vast Arctic territory, has melted by around eight billion tonnes a day, twice its normal average rate during summer, reported the Polar Portal website, which is run by Danish researchers.

The Danish Meteorological Institute reported temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), more than twice the normal average summer temperature, in northern Greenland.

And Nerlerit Inaat airport in the northeast of the territory recorded 23.4 degrees on Thursday, the highest recorded there since records began.

With the heatwave affecting most of Greenland that day, the Polar Portal website reported a “massive melting event” involving enough water “to cover Florida with two inches of water” (five centimetres).

The largest melt of the Greenland ice sheet still dates back to the summer of 2019.

But the area where the melting took place this time is larger than two years ago, the website added.

The Greenland ice sheet is the second largest mass of freshwater ice on the planet with nearly 1.8 million square kilometres (695,000 square miles), second only to Antarctica.

The melting of the ice sheets started in 1990 and has accelerated since 2000. The mass loss in recent years is approximately four times greater than it was before 2000, say the researchers at Polar Portal.

One European study published in January said that ocean levels would rise between 10 and 18 centimetres by 2100 — or 60 percent faster than previously estimated — at the rate which the Greenland ice sheet was now melting.

The Greenland ice sheet, if completely melted, would raise the ocean levels by six to seven metres.

But with a relatively cool start to the Greenland summer, with snowfalls and rains, the retreat of the ice sheet so far for 2021 remains within the historical norm, according to Polar Portal. The melting period extends from June to early September.

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WEATHER

How much will it snow in Denmark this weekend?

Winter weather arrived in spectacular fashion to coincide with the beginning of December this week. The weekend could bring more snow to parts of the country but probably less disruption than recent days.

Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December.
Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Recent snowstorms disrupted North Jutland in particular and Denmark in general, and more cold weather can be expected this weekend albeit severe, according to forecasts.

“We won’t see the Ragnarok-like weather we’ve seen in some places recently again this weekend, but it’s now winter weather and it has also snowed in several places overnight,” said meteorologist Frank Nielsen of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Early December blizzards disrupt Denmark

Cold weather on Friday and a low front across the North Sea will bring clouds and precipitation across Denmark from the west, Nielsen said.

That will materialise as cold rain or sleet in many areas but probably snow in North Jutland, he said.

“There could be between five and ten centimetres of snow north of the Limfjord,” the meteorologist said, referring to the waterway that cuts across the northern part of Jutland, including main regional city Aalborg.

“In the southern part of the country, an equivalent five to ten centimetres of rain could fall,” he added.

Friday’s temperature will be between freezing point and five degrees Celsius, with the north of the country falling in to the lower end of that range and the south the warmer end.

Mist and fog is forecast this evening, caused by various weather fronts moving over Denmark.

That could still be felt on Saturday morning, though it is likely to be a little warmer at 2-6 degrees Celsius. Mild winds could make that fell chiller, but snow is unlikely.

Sunday will see the temperature drop again, to 0-4 degrees Celsisu. Snow is possible, particularly on eastern coasts.

Strong winds in the east of the country and along the coasts will result in a “rather cold 24 hours,” Nielsen said.

Nighttime temperatures are expected to drop below zero throughout the weekend. Motorists are therefore warned to be alert to icy road surfaces.

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