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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.

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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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Escalating Consequences of Climate Change Hit Countries Globally

India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally

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As Climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives. Pixabay

The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally.

The Climate Risk Index 2020, an annual report by Germanwatch, ranks countries according to their vulnerability to extreme weather events.

It was released in the Spanish capital on the sidelines of the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 that is being held in the backdrop of climate impact biting globally.

According to the report, India has also been badly affected, ranking fifth in the overall global vulnerability index in 2018, ranked first in terms of fatalities and second in the world in terms of losses in millions of dollars.

India’s overall ranking has drastically fallen from 14th in 2017, to fifth in 2018.

The report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries.

Japan is the worst-hit country in 2018, while Germany and Canada were both also in the ‘bottom 10’ i.e. the most affected.

The results reflect the increasing damage caused by heatwaves, which scientists have found are being worsened by climate change.

To explain this drastic fall in ranking in a year, David Eckstein, Policy Advisor (Climate Finance and Investment) with Germanwatch said: “India’s high rank is due to severe rainfall, followed by heavy flooding and landslides that killed over 1,000 people.”

The state of Kerala was especially impacted. The floods were described as the worst in the last 100 years.

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A report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries. Pixabay

According to Eckstein, India was struck by two cyclones in October and November 2018 that also nearly killed 1,000 people. Last but not least, India also suffered from extreme heat. While the human death toll was kept considerably low due to public measures, the economic damage was quite severe.

Other countries ranking in the bottom 20 in the overall climate risk categories are the US at 12th, Vietnam at sixth, Bangladesh at seventh and France at 15th.

The report also points to the importance of negotiations at COP25. As climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives.

So far, the industrialised countries have refused to even negotiate it.

But at COP25, for the first time, financial support for climate-related loss and damage is high on the agenda.

For the poorest and most vulnerable countries, this climate summit is, therefore, of the utmost importance. They demand that states agree a deal to support those who are suffering, or at least acknowledge the necessity, with a pathway towards real help.

Otherwise the poorest countries will continue to rely on loans to cope with the consequences of climate change, which means they are threatened with excessive debts, undermining often already vulnerable economies.

In the talks that will last till December 13, India has been ambitious in its actions.

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The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally. Pixabay

It has emphasised that developed countries should take the lead in undertaking ambitious actions and fulfil their climate finance commitments of mobilising $100 billion per annum by 2020 and progressively and substantially scale up their financial support to inform parties for future action through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

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India is also stressing upon the need for fulfilling the pre-2020 commitments by developed countries, and that pre-2020 implementation gaps should not present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.

The Indian delegation will be led by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who is attending the summit from December 9. (IANS)