Tuesday 23 July 2019

Walking on water: Scarcely-credible photo of Greenland huskies rings alarm over global warming

‘Extreme event’: Sled dogs appearing to walk on water as they wade through partially melted sea ice in north-west Greenland. Photo: Steffen Olsen
‘Extreme event’: Sled dogs appearing to walk on water as they wade through partially melted sea ice in north-west Greenland. Photo: Steffen Olsen

Emily Chudy

Climate experts have released a photo showing sled dogs appearing to walk on water as they wade through partially melted sea ice to retrieve scientific equipment in north-west Greenland.

The picture was taken by climatologist Steffen Olsen, from the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) on June 13, as the team went to fetch measuring devices planted in an ice sheet in the Inglefield Gulf to monitor conditions in the area.

They used satellite images to plan the trip; however, when the dog sled reached the area, the team found that the ice sheet was hidden beneath a shallow lake.

Commenting on the photo, Rosie Rogers, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: "From Greenland's melting sea ice to the 50C heatwave scorching India, the impacts of the climate emergency are playing out all around us."

Mr Olsen said communities in Greenland rely on the sea ice for "transport, hunting and fishing" and that flooding caused by surface melt calls for "an increased predictive capacity in the Arctic".

The photo was shared by his colleague at the DMI, Rasmus Tonboe, who tweeted that the "rapid melt and sea ice with low permeability and few cracks leaves the melt water on top".

Ruth Mottram, also a DMI climate researcher, said: "Last week saw the onset of very warm conditions in Greenland and in fact much of the rest of the Arctic, driven by warmer air moving up from the south. This led to a lot of melting ice, both on the glaciers and ice sheet and on the still existing sea ice.

"Normally we would expect these kind of warm melt events to occur later in the summer in late June or July so it is pretty unusual that it happened this early, though it's not unprecedented."

Ms Mottram added: "This week's warming is still a weather-driven extreme event so it's hard to pin it down to climate change alone."

Irish Independent

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