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European Heat Wave Threatens to Accelerate Ice Melt in Greenland, Warn Climate Scientists

100 metric gigatons contribute to about 0.28 millimeters (0.01 inches) of global sea level rise

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Meltwater drains from Greenland’s ice sheet at such a fast rate that researchers couldn’t risk entering the water to get readings so they used a remote-controlled drone boat. (UCLA/ Laurence C. Smith) VOA

As Europe’s record-breaking heat wave drifts toward the Arctic, it threatens to accelerate the melting of ice in Greenland, which already started earlier than normal this year, climate scientists warned Saturday.

After breaking records over Europe, the heat wave has swept over Scandinavia and is predicted to move toward Greenland, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

“As it is forecast to move over the Arctic it will potentially bring a large amount of energy that will melt ice, both sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and the ice sheet surface over the next 3 to 5 days,” Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), told AFP.

greenland, arctic
Arctic permafrost is melting decades earlier than even worst-case scenarios, he said, threatening to unlock vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas. VOA

Early, warm melting season

That heat will add to a summer where the melting season started early and “persistent warm conditions have led to a very large loss of ice.” According to DMI’s models an estimated 170 metric gigatons of water have been added to the world’s oceans from melted ice and snow between July 1 to July 26.

100 metric gigatons contribute to about 0.28 millimeters (0.01 inches) of global sea level rise. The expected average would be about 60 to 80 metric gigatons of ice over the same period.

“So we’re well over what we would normally have,” Mottram said, emphasizing that the rate of melting can vary greatly from one year to the next.

Summer 2012 set record

There are fears that this year’s ice melt in Greenland could approach the record level set in 2012. In “2012 summer conditions were even more extreme and for several days there was quite intense melt all the way to the summit of the ice sheet at 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level,” Mottram said.

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Researchers have found that the island’s ice sheet lost more than two gigatonnes (a gigaton is equal to one billion tonnes) of ice due to a widespread melting event. Pixabay

A similar melting event has not been observed this year so far, but with the heat wave approaching Greenland there could be a repeat.

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Although the melting has been persistent this year, with relatively high temperatures day after day, “though within the normal range,” it is still unlike 2012 when melting was much more driven by “several very extreme melting days,” according to Mottram.

But Mottram also noted that higher than average melting coincides with a trend of “increasing melt rates over the last two decades.” Melting ice in Greenland is also quite closely linked to global temperatures, meaning that as global temperatures rise, “we expect more melting to occur.” (VOA)

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Growing Inequality and Climate Change to Threaten Human Existence

Member nations unanimously adopted 17 sustainable development goals known as SDGs in 2015, setting out a wide-ranging "to-do" list

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Inequality, Climate Change, Human Existence
FILE - Then-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a development conference in Zurich, Jan. 22, 2016. Behind him on a screen are displayed the 17 goals of the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. VOA

Growing inequality and climate change will not only derail progress toward global sustainability goals but also will threaten human existence, leading scientists said Wednesday at the United Nations.

The world is falling off track on ambitious global development goals adopted by U.N. members, a panel of scientists said in an independent assessment report released at U.N. headquarters.

Member nations unanimously adopted 17 sustainable development goals known as SDGs in 2015, setting out a wide-ranging “to-do” list tackling conflict, hunger, land degradation, gender equality and climate change by 2030.

The bleak assessment report was released ahead of a sustainable-goals summit scheduled at the United Nations this month.

Inequality, Climate Change, Human Existence
Growing inequality and climate change will not only derail progress toward global sustainability goals but also will threaten human existence, leading scientists said Wednesday. Pixabay

“Overall, the picture is a sobering one,” said Shantanu Mukherjee, policy chief at the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “One element of this is increasing inequality. … Another is the pace at which nature is being degraded by human activity, whether it is climate change or biodiversity loss.”

The independent panel of scientists investigated the ways and systems in which humans and the environment are linked and interact, said Peter Messerli of the University of Bern,
Switzerland, the co-chair of the group of scientists.

“These systems are on a very worrying trajectory, threatening the very existence of humanity,” he told reporters. “We have not realized the urgency to act now.”

‘This has to be corrected’

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Countries must put into practice ways to address vast gaps in wealth distribution and access to economic opportunities and technological advances that undermine innovation and economic growth, the report said.

“Each country has to decide,” Jean-Paul Moatti, chief executive of the French Research Institute for Development and one of the scientists who compiled the report.

“This has to be corrected,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The report called on nations to focus on food and energy production and distribution, consumption and urban growth to find ways of building sustainable development.

Inequality, Climate Change, Human Existence
The world is falling off track on ambitious global development goals adopted by U.N. members, a panel of scientists said in an independent assessment report released at U.N. headquarters. Pixabay

The cost of implementing the global goals has been estimated at $3 trillion a year.

These are not the first grim predictions made for the fate of the goals. Earlier reports have said they were threatened by the persistence of violence, conflict and destabilizing climate
change.

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Outside assessments have cited nationalism, protectionism and a need to obtain more funding, ease national debts, boost wages and expand trade. (VOA)