Greenland is much cooler now than it was 40 years ago. Edward Hanna, of the Institute of Marine Studies in the U.K. says, “It really depends on what time scale you are looking at?Over the last 40 or 50 years?there has been a statistically significant cooling, particularly in south-western coastal Greenland.” This can be confusing if you assume that global warming will produce warmer temperatures worldwide. This isn’t true?it will produce more extreme weather and some areas, such as the U.K. and Europe, will actually become colder due to changes in ocean currents.

Hanna and John Cappelen, of the Danish Meteorological Institute, think the cooling trend has to do with an increased phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) that has been observed over the past 35 years. They think the NAO is responsible for slowing the island’s ice melting rate, while it’s been increasing at the poles. Since Greenland has grounded, rather than floating, ice, major melting would raise sea levels by around 20 feet, which would be devastating for island nations and coastal areas.

It’s important to understand what global warming really does.

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