SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 27:  Ice calves at the Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 27, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glacieres National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images South America/Getty Images
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 27: Ice calves at the Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 27, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glacieres National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 10: The Honourable Artillery Company fire a gun salute at The Tower of London on April 10, 2021 in London, United Kingdom.  The Death Gun Salute will be fired at 1200 marking the death of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Across the country and the globe saluting batteries will fire 41 rounds, 1 round at the start of each minute, for 40 minutes. Gun salutes are customarily fired, both on land and at sea, as a sign of respect or welcome. The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, said "His Royal Highness has been a great friend, inspiration and role model for the Armed Forces and he will be sorely missed." (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
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Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in his role as Captain General, Royal Marines, attends a Parade to mark the finale of the 1664 Global Challenge on the Buckingham Palace Forecourt in central London on August 2, 2017. After a lifetime of public service by the side of his wife Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip finally retires on August 2, 2017,at the age of 96. The Duke of Edinburgh attended a parade of Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace, the last of 22,219 solo public engagements since she ascended to the throne in 1952. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / HANNAH MCKAY (Photo credit should read HANNAH MCKAY/AFP/Getty Images)
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(CNN) —  

After months of record temperatures, scientists say Greenland’s ice sheet experienced its biggest melt of the summer on Thursday, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean – equivalent to 4.4 million Olympic swimming pools.

Greenland’s ice sheet usually melts during the summer, but the melt season typically begins around the end of May; this year it began at the start. It has been melting “persistently” over the past four months, which have recorded all time temperature highs, according to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute.

This July alone, Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice – the equivalent of around 80 million Olympic swimming pools – according to Mottram. She told CNN the expected average would be between 60-70 billion tons at this time of year.

The weather conditions that brought a heat wave to Europe last week have reached the Arctic, where scientists say they could trigger one of Greenland’s biggest ice melts since 1950, when reliable records began.

Scientists recorded unconfirmed temperatures of 2.7C at 3,000 meters above sea level on Thursday, which would be close to a new record if confirmed.

Record temperatures

It came on the same day as meteorologists reported that globally, this July has been as hot as any month in recorded history.

Global average temperatures for July are on par with, and possibly higher, than those of the current record holder, July 2016, according to preliminary data for July 1-29 released by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme, which analyzes temperature data from around the planet. The final data will be released Monday.

Read: Record heat waves might have made July the hottest month on record

Mottram said Greenland’s warm weather is set to continue for the next few days, perhaps longer. With the melt season typically lasting to the end of August, she said the ice sheet is likely to see continued substantial melting, although not necessarily as much as in recent weeks.

Greenland’s ice sheet is the second biggest in the world and this season’s ice melt has already contributed around half a millimeter to global sea levels.

It comes in a summer where the Arctic has experienced “unprecedented” wildfires, which scientists say have been facilitated by high temperatures.

Since the start of June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), has tracked more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle.

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at a faster rate than the global average, providing the right conditions for wildfires to spread, Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECWMF), told CNN last week.