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WEATHER

 Heatwave causes massive melt of Greenland ice sheet

Greenland's ice sheet has experienced a "massive melting event" during a heatwave that has seen temperatures more than 10 degrees above seasonal norms, according to Danish researchers.

 Heatwave causes massive melt of Greenland ice sheet
In this photo taken on May 20th, 2021 ice recedes from a glacier as seen from an aerial helicopter tour with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken of ice caps and fjords near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. SAUL LOEB / POOL / AFP

Since Wednesday the ice sheet covering the vast Arctic territory, has melted by around eight billion tonnes a day, twice its normal average rate during summer, reported the Polar Portal website, which is run by Danish researchers.

The Danish Meteorological Institute reported temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), more than twice the normal average summer temperature, in northern Greenland.

And Nerlerit Inaat airport in the northeast of the territory recorded 23.4 degrees on Thursday, the highest recorded there since records began.

With the heatwave affecting most of Greenland that day, the Polar Portal website reported a “massive melting event” involving enough water “to cover Florida with two inches of water” (five centimetres).

The largest melt of the Greenland ice sheet still dates back to the summer of 2019.

But the area where the melting took place this time is larger than two years ago, the website added.

The Greenland ice sheet is the second largest mass of freshwater ice on the planet with nearly 1.8 million square kilometres (695,000 square miles), second only to Antarctica.

The melting of the ice sheets started in 1990 and has accelerated since 2000. The mass loss in recent years is approximately four times greater than it was before 2000, say the researchers at Polar Portal.

One European study published in January said that ocean levels would rise between 10 and 18 centimetres by 2100 — or 60 percent faster than previously estimated — at the rate which the Greenland ice sheet was now melting.

The Greenland ice sheet, if completely melted, would raise the ocean levels by six to seven metres.

But with a relatively cool start to the Greenland summer, with snowfalls and rains, the retreat of the ice sheet so far for 2021 remains within the historical norm, according to Polar Portal. The melting period extends from June to early September.

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WEATHER

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

Temperatures are set to rise dramatically across Italy this weekend as the country prepares for its first real heatwave of the year, meteorologists said on Friday.

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

People across Italy are preparing to head to the beach this weekend with unseasonably hot weather predicted to last for several days.

The heatwave is caused by an anticyclone named  ‘Hannibal’ sweeping in from Tunisia and Algeria, bringing hot air currents across the Mediterranean and as far north as Denmark and Poland, reports news agency Ansa.

Temperatures are forecast to rise above 32-33°C in parts of the Italian north including Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Emilia Romagna, before the heatwave expands towards the centre and south of the country over the course of the weekend.

The weather is already 8°C above the seasonal average for this time of year, according to Antonio Sanò, founder of the Italian weather site IlMeteo.it, and temperatures could rise by as much as 10°C.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

In a typical year these kinds of highs wouldn’t be seen until July, Sanò said.

The incoming heatwave will be particularly humid as the anticyclone is carrying moisture from the Mediterranean sea, according to IlMeteo.

However, the relative cool of the Mediterranean basin at this time of year will contain the heat and keep the temperatures from rising into the high 30s, as would happen if the same type of weather event occurred in August.

READ ALSO: Nine in 10 Italians ‘want more action on climate crisis’, new study finds

The heatwave will stretch over the weekend and continue into next week, peaking on Tuesday, according to weather reports.

Patchy thunderstorms typical of midsummer weather are anticipated in the Alps and the Po Valley, while the centre-south is set to experience hot and sunny conditions bar some isolated storms in the mountains of Abruzzo on Sunday.

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