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Sea levels rise after Greenland lost 180 billion tonnes of ice last month

Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an unprecedented rate thanks to the heatwave which tormented the UK last week.

Up to half of the ice sheet that covers 80% of the country is believed to be melting due to the soaring temperatures which saw Britain’s hottest day ever at 38.7C.

As Greenland is now facing its own abnormally high temperatures, the sheet is melting rapidly, causing rises in global sea levels.

The impact of the heatwave was tangibly seen by science journalist Laurie Garrett, who recorded part of the melting as it surged past her under a bridge.

Ms Garrett wrote: ‘This is a roaring glacial melt, under the bridge to Kangerlussiauq, Greenland where it’s 22C today and Danish officials say 12 billions tons of ice melted in 24 hours, yesterday.’

Each year there is an expected amount of melting from the sheet which is then regained in the winter freeze.

However, this year’s melting is expected to be too great for the ice sheet to recover from and may be one of the most significant ice losses in the past decade.

University of Sheffield glaciologist Dr Andrew Sole said: ‘This year Greenland and other parts of the Arctic have experienced some record-breaking temperatures.

‘In mid-June, temperatures along the eastern coast of Greenland were up to 9C above the 1981-to-2010 average.’

According to the Danish Meteorological Institute, surface ice on the sheet declined in July by at least 180 billion tonnes.

Temperatures in Greenland are approximately 10 degrees higher than average due to the heatwave.

This massive ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet has so far caused a rise of 0.5mm in global sea levels.

Scientists believe that even small increases in sea levels can cause devastation to coastal communities as well as prompting more severe hurricanes and typhoons.

Coastal areas are more likely to flood and some warn drinking sources could become contaminated with salt water.

Most scientists this melting is a symptom of man-made climate change, and far beyond the natural melt and freeze cycle of the ice sheet.

Global sea levels are expected to rise by around two metres by 2100, likely causing devastation to the planet.

However, some scientists warn that as greenhouse emissions and rates of climate change, this two metre mark may be reached much sooner.

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