Through an examination of shallow ice cores covering a wide area of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS), we show that the same mechanism drove two widespread melt events that occurred over 100 years apart, in 1889 and 2012. We found that black carbon from forest fires and rising temperatures combined to cause both of these events, and that continued climate change may result in nearly annual melting of the surface of the GIS by the year 2100. In addition, a positive feedback mechanism may be set in motion whereby melt water is retained as refrozen ice layers within the snow pack, causing lower albedo and leaving the ice sheet surface even more susceptible to future melting.
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