Spring in Greenland is usually more aspirational than actual … but not this year.
Emerging from a winter that has had staggeringly warm Arctic temperatures, scientists monitoring the vast Greenland ice sheet announced Tuesday that it is experiencing a record-breaking level of melt for so early in the season. ...
The news raised memories of the record melt season in 2012, when the ice sheet as a whole lost 562 gigatons, or billion tons, of freshwater mass to the ocean, enough to raise sea levels the world over by more than a millimeter in that year alone.
Warming effects aren’t just reaching the top of the world—they’re reaching up to affect altitudes more than a mile above sea level. All across Greenland, the ice sheets are covered in a sheen of meltwater as melting season gets a record early start. Researchers point to a mass of warm air trapped over the ice sheet as the cause for the unseasonable melt this year. Rather than the usual spring snows, Greenland is seeing widespread rain.
This early melt may turn out to have a relatively minor effect on the overall ice loss this year. If a cold weather pattern moves in, there could be a refreeze that keeps things chilled until the usual time when melting begins around the end of May. Still, this unusual early start to the season signals a potential for a year that may match or exceed 2012’s record melt.
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