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Confronting image of melting sea ice in Greenland shows dogs walking on water

Photograph: Steffen M Olsen/Twitter

Confronting image of melting sea ice in Greenland shows dogs walking on water

A new photo taken by a Danish climatologist has revealed the reality of extreme weather conditions in Greenland and state of its rapidly melting sea ice.

Confronting image of melting sea ice in Greenland shows dogs walking on water

A photo, taken by Steffen Olsen from the Centre for Ocean and Ice at the Danish Meteorological Institute earlier this month, shows sled dogs wading through water ankle-deep on top of a melting ice sheet in the country’s north-west.

The startling image seems to show the dogs walking on water. Rasmus Tonboe, Olsen’s colleague, tweeted the “symbolic” image on Thursday.

“Steffen Malskaer got the difficult task of retrieving our oceanographic moorings and weather station on sea ice in North West Greenland this year. Rapid melt and sea ice with low permeability and a few cracks leaves the melt water on top,” Tonboe captioned the image.

Olsen tweeted the image had captured an “unusual” day and was more “symbolic than scientific to many”.

“We have been measuring ice thickness since December, an activity that has been ongoing for a decade,” he wrote.

Melting events such as the one captured in the image would normally not happen until later in the summer, in late June or July. Mottram told the Guardian that it was too soon to say what role global warming had played, because although these temperatures were unusual, the conditions were not unprecedented and “still a weather-driven extreme event, so it’s hard to pin it down to climate change alone”.

According to a report by the Washington Post, Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 4.4 degrees celsius above normal last week Wednesday. Above-average temperatures over nearly all of the Arctic ocean and Greenland during May have led to an early ice retreat.

Weather in the coming months will determine how much more the ice sheet melts and whether 2019 is a record-setter. 

The Guardian reports sea ice melt creates significant problems for communities in Greenland, who rely on it for transport, hunting and fishing.

Read more: Sir David Attenborough issues dire climate change warning

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