Publication Date July 24, 2012

Ice melt found across 97 percent of Greenland, satellites show

About 40 percent of Greenland's ice sheet thawed at or near the surface on July 8. Four days later, the melt had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed. Image: Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory

Three satellites found that 97 percent of Greenland -- the land mass second only to Antarctica for its volume of ice -- underwent a thaw never before seen in 33 years of satellite tracking, NASA reported Tuesday...

Scientists on the ground in Greenland had been reporting an unusually warm summer thaw, including damage at a snow airfield and strong runoff threatening a bridge, Tom Wagner, who manages NASA's ice research programs, told NBC News...

Thomas Mote, a University of Georgia climatologist who looked at the satellite data, said the melt followed an unusual series of warm air ridges over Greenland since late May, with the strongest coinciding with the rapid thaw in mid-July.

Each successive ridge, Mote told NBC News, was "stronger than the previous one" and it looks like the pattern has finally broken down