It's much warmer in Greenland than it should be and the ice fields have vanished

This striking photograph shows the devastating scale of the melting ice in Greenland.

Sled dogs make their way across what should be ice fields as experts predict another record year for ice loss.

The country lost more than two billion tonnes of ice in a single day last week.

The image was taken by Steffen Olsen, a scientist with the Danish Meteorological Institute.

He was on a routine mission in northwest Greenland to retrieve oceanographic and weather monitoring tools that had been left behind by his colleagues.

But they could not see them – the usually flat white sea ice was covered in water.

The dogs he used to get across the Inglefield Bredning fjord were then forced to wade through standing water on the sea ice.

Greenland’s ice sheet is the second largest on the planet.

The Arctic melt season is a natural event, starting every year in June and ending in August.

The melt usually peaks in July but this year it is at least three weeks early.

Temperatures on June 13th – the day the photograph was taken – were 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, according to the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting.

Experts say the situation is comparable to 2012, which saw a record-breaking loss.

Then almost all of Greenland’s ice sheet was exposed to a melt for the first time in documented history.

Scientists predict 2019 will be a record and already some 40% of the country has experienced melting.

That is set to have a major effect in sea rise levels, which could one day drive millions of people living in coastal communities from their homes.

It is not just the people of Greenland – who rely on the sea ice for transport, hunting and fishing – who will be affected.

Since 1972, ice loss from Greenland alone has added about half an inch to global sea levels.

Professor Jason Box, an ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said: ‘The melting is big and early.’

He added that temperatures over the Greenland ice sheet have been abnormally high while snow has been well below normal.

One reason behind the higher temperatures is a big dome of high pressure that has positioned itself over Greenland, resulting in sunny skies.

Thomas Mote, a research scientist at the University of Georgia, told CNN that while previous melt periods happened in 2007, 2010 and 2012 ‘we didn’t see anything like this prior to the late 1990s.’

He added: ‘Greenland has been an increasing contributor to global sea level rise over the past two decades and surface melting and run off is a large portion of that.’

Premature melting creates a vicious cycle, leading to even more melting – known as the albedo effect.

White snow and ice reflect the sun’s energy back into space, essentially cooling the land and preventing further ice melt.

A reduced snow or ice cover means more of the sun’s energy is absorbed – and there is more ice loss.

Greenland is not the only place that is suffering from climate change.

Scientists predict that Everest could lose its snow and ice cover as early as 2100 and earlier this month, the North Pole reached record levels of melting.

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