Record melt: Greenland lost 586 billion tons of ice in 2019

Greenland lost a record amount of ice during an extra warm 2019, with the melt massive enough to cover California in more than 4 feet of water, a new study said.

After two years when summer ice melt had been minimal, last summer shattered all records with 586 billion tons of ice melting, according to satellite measurements reported in a study Thursday. That’s more than 140 trillion gallons of water.

That’s far more than the yearly average loss of 259 billion tons since 2003 and easily surpasses the old record of 511 billion tons in 2012, said a study in Communications Earth & Environment. The study showed that in the 20th century, there were many years when Greenland gained ice.


“Not only is the Greenland ice sheet melting, but it’s melting at a faster and faster pace,” said study lead author Ingo Sasgen, a geoscientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Last year’s Greenland melt added 0.06 inches to global sea level rise. That sounds like a tiny amount but “in our world it’s huge, that’s astounding,” said study coauthor Alex Gardner, a NASA ice scientist.