Arctic ice melting at 'alarming' rate - NASA

An unusually hot summer worldwide has led to an extreme rate of Arctic ice melt, NASA said on Friday.

NASA scientist Nathan Kurtz said the Greenland ice sheet is experiencing extreme levels of ice melt.

NASA would not go as far as saying 2019 will set a new record for Arctic ice loss, but the year is on track to be one of the top five in the 40-year satellite record, according to the agency.

He said that NASA technology identified a rapid melting trend earlier than usual this year.

"And in May they were seeing a lot of melt ponds that were forming on the surface. This was an indication that melt had started very early. This melt usually doesn't start until typically June or July and then July into August. Substantial part of the Greenland ice sheet was melting. About 90 percent was melting," he said.

He called the melting ice "alarming".

According to NASA, since 1980 the Arctic has lost enough sea ice volume to equal all the water in Lake Superior, one of the largest lakes in the world.

"In particular, the declining sea ice cover is alarming because it's part of a long-term trend," said Kurtz.

"The lowest record ever recorded was in 2012 and that happened for a variety of reasons - warm temperatures, kind of a one-off storm that happened in August - but really the amount of ice loss we've seen from places like the Arctic Ocean and then melting ice from Greenland is alarming because it does have an impact on the climate and things like sea level rise and weather in the mid-latitudes."

Data in June recorded by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center shows the extent of the melting was relatively normal up until the start of that month, but quickly reached near-unprecedented levels.

Greenland's ice sheet is the second-largest in the world, behind Antarctica. If it melted, the world's oceans would rise 7m.

Reuters / Newshub.