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Photos from Greenland reveal worrying cost of European heatwave

ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 30: An iceberg floats in Disko Bay behind houses during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 in Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe is arriving in Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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Photos from Greenland reveal worrying cost of European heatwave

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As Europe reels from a record-breaking heatwave, which has halted the Tour de France and sparked major fires in France, a concerning consequence has been laid bare in striking images from Greenland.

They show how the extreme Saharan blast of heat has taken a devastating toll on the nation, which is home to the world’s second-largest ice sheet — meaning knock-on effects for sea levels and weather across the globe.

Heat records in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany tumbled in recent days as hot air surged from North Africa and Spain.

The UN weather agency voiced “concern” as the heatwave moved towards Greenland earlier this week, saying it “will result in high temperatures and consequently enhanced melting of the Greenland ice sheet.”

However, World Meteorological Organisation spokeswoman Clare Nullis added that ice had already been melting at high levels over the last few weeks in Greenland, even before the heatwave struck.

Greenland’s ice sheet usually melts during the summer.

However, it started melting a lot earlier than usual this year, in May, and the current heatwave is expected to accelerate the process.

Ms. Nullis said Greenland’s ice sheet lost 160 billion tons of ice in July alone — roughly the equivalent of 64 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.

“Normally, when you get a temperature record broken it’s by a fraction of a degree,” said told reporters. “What we saw yesterday was records being broken by two, three, four degrees — it was absolutely incredible.”

ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 30: In this aerial view melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe is arriving in Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

ILULISSAT, GREENLAND – JULY 30: In this aerial view melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe is arriving in Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Shocking images of the heatwave’s toll on Greenland come as Europe is still reeling from a heatwave that continues to break records.

Britain has officially had its hottest day on record. Weather agency the Met Office says the temperature reached 38.7C at Cambridge University Botanic Garden in eastern England during last week’s heatwave.

The temperature was recorded on Thursday and confirmed on Monday after “quality control and analysis” by the Met Office.

The previous UK record was 38.5C, set in August 2003. Temperature records fell across Europe last week as a suffocating heatwave swept up from the Sahara.

Met Office climate scientist Mark McCarthy said climate change was making extreme temperatures more common.

ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 30: Visitors look out onto free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe is arriving in Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

ILULISSAT, GREENLAND – JULY 30: Visitors look out onto free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland. The Sahara heat wave that recently sent temperatures to record levels in parts of Europe is arriving in Greenland. Climate change is having a profound effect in Greenland, where over the last several decades summers have become longer and the rate that glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are retreating has accelerated. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“Climate change has increased the likelihood and severity of heatwave episodes across Europe, which will have also increased the risks of a 40 Celsius temperature event in the UK,” he said.

— with wires

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.

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