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Greenland’s Persistent Ice Melts Improve Tourism Prospects

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Persistent atmospheric conditions could be behind the recent ice melt overdrive and rising surface temperatures in Greenland, a new study found. After the country's warmest winter to date, its ongoing ice melt could get worse.

In a recent study, researchers found that Arctic amplification could be one of the possible causes of Greenland's melting ice. Other possible causes include latent heat and tropical weather, but Arctic amplification can explain why the ice continues to melt in the poles.

While researchers didn't confirm that the phenomenon is the root cause of the warming in Greenland, their findings showed the further increase in temperatures and ice melts.

But some residents are seeing a silver lining in the country's melting ice sheets. Greenland's tourism has increased along with the rising temperatures.

For instance, the coastal town Ilulissat now has patches of open waters as the glaciers retreat, compared to the completely frozen harbors and bays during the past winters.

"You can see the marks on the sides of the glacier where it used to be and where it is now. Actually being there and being a witness to what is happening to our environment, that has great appeal," said Greenland Tourism and Business Council consultant Anders la Cour Vahl.

He added that there are about 30,000 people who visit Greenland via cruises each year, which increased almost four times in the past 10 years. There are also about 35,000 visitors who fly in each year.

While Greenland's tourism is still very small, the country has seen "quite an increase" in terms of cruise visitors as well as "incremental increase" in the number of people who visit via plane, according to la Cour Vahl.

These numbers could further grow as bigger temperature increases could be experienced sooner than the middle of the century.

Some of the temperature readings this 2016 in Nuuk, Greenland are among the highest monthly recorded figures to date. On June 9, the temperature surged to 24 degrees Celsius.

Greenland's yearly ice loss season started last week. So far, it has recorded a daily ice loss of 1.1 billion tons of ice.

"Greenland has been a major concern because there is a lot of ice sitting on land, and it's melting a lot faster than we thought it was going to. It's a big unknown in the system," said World Wildlife Fund's director of international climate policy Keya Chatterjee.

The temperature increase predictions could be dire news for the country's ice sheet as it could increase global water levels by over 20 feet when it thaws completely.

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