Vampires aren't the only ones who worry about the sun rising. After living in complete darkness for a chunk of winter, one might think Greenland citizens would be happy to finally see sunlight. But instead, the first sight of sun sent residents of Ilulissat, a town on the western coast, into a panic, with good reason - the sun supposedly rose two days early.
According to LiveScience, Ilulissat is about three degrees north of the Arctic Circle - where the sun doesn't set during summer solstice, and the sun doesn't rise on winter solstice. In other words, people living near this region experience winters without any sunlight. Ilulissat normally sees its first sunrise on January 13th - this year, the sun allegedly rose on January 11th instead.
Scientists are puzzled by this phenomenon, and theories are circulating like wildfire. Some speculations have already been squashed - the 2012 leap year and changes in constellations are both considered unlikely explanations.
Could it all just be an illusion? Maybe so, according to Thomas Posch, with Austria's Institute of Astronomy. He hypothesizes that the sun's rays may have had a stronger bend than usual, resulting in the sun appearing earlier.
But the most troublesome theory may also be the truth. Some scientists suggest that the sun rose early due to global warming, namely, Greenland's melting ice caps. In the past year, temperatures in Greenland have risen three degrees Celcius above average. As icecaps melt, the horizon sinks down as well, which makes the sun appear earlier over the horizon. According to Tim Dixon, a professor of geodesy, "It is well known that global warming is causing most of Greenland's outlet glaciers to melt faster and draw down the inland ice." That said, there is debate over whether the melting ice sheet would affect the sunrise, given the ice's eastern location.
If Greenland's early sunrise is due to global warming, it is just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). Beyond the commonly spoken results of global warming, there are many unusual occurrences around the world that may also be due to our changing climate. While it seems counterintuitive, the bizarre blizzards that have recently hit the US may in fact be due to a warming Arctic. Another weird result of global warming may be that there is a reduced drag on satellites due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Global warming has also been blamed for increased allergies, raging wildfires, and the potential reintroduction of smallpox from dead corpses. Very weird.
And now, we just may have to add "early sunrise" to the list.
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