Written by Sushmita Roy / Global Citizen
When Steffen Olsen, a scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), recently encountered an unusual problem while monitoring sea ice and ocean conditions in Greenland’s Inglefield Gulf, he quickly took a photo of the shocking scene.
In the image, which has since gone viral, his sled dogs are seen trudging through melted water on top of an ice sheet in northwest Greenland.
The photo captures the worsening impact of climate change on melting glaciers in Greenland. Although Greenland experiences melting from June to August, with most of the melting taking place in July, this year has already witnessed massive amounts of ice loss.
About 40% of Greenland experienced melting on June 13 — the day Olsen took the photo — with more than 2 billion tons of ice melting, according to recent estimates.
Because the ice in the area forms reliably and in thick layers, there are few fractures in the ice through which the melted water can drain, Mottram explained, leading to the phenomenon seen in Olsen’s photos.
Olsen, who works closely with local communities in the town of Qaanaaq, considers the rapid melting to be a threat for the indigenous communities that live in the region.
“Communities in Greenland rely on the sea ice for transport, hunting,and fishing. Extreme events, here flooding of the ice by abrupt onset of surface melt call for an increased predictive capacity in the Arctic,” Olsen tweeted.