Is Greenland Melting?

Is Greenland melting? Has the ice cap suddenly disappeared from this frosty island?

That’s the conclusion I drew after skimming DCist this morning, which had the headline:

Nearly All of Greenland Melted in Span of Four Days, NASA Finds

And then below was this alarming graphic:

And here’s the lede:

This is kind of scary. According to a NASA analysis of recent satellite readings, it took just four days for nearly all of Greenland’s surface ice to melt amid an oppressive heat wave a couple weeks ago.

Reading this, I thought, “The ice cap has disappeared from Greenland.” All of Greenland’s surface ice has melted away over four days.

But the reporter got it wrong. If you read the comments from the smart readers of DCist, you discovered the truth. The chart above only indicates what’s melting on Greenland. Everything right now is melting on Greenland but it’s still covered in plenty of ice and snow. It’s like an ice cube that’s sweating but is still plenty big.

How could this information be communicated better? Should reporters receive more training in interpreting scientific information? Is this graphic from NASA confusing and easy to misinterpret? Should public affairs officers “dumb things down” even more?

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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