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Greenland Is Melting At Its Highest Elevations And That’s Unusual

It’s beneficial to provide important context about Greenland before delving too deeply into the current melting event. While often exaggerated in”doomsday” scenarios, Greenland could increase global sea level by 20 feet if the whole ice sheet sprayed. Obviously, that’s unlikely to take place. However, changes to the Greenland Ice Sheet are scrutinized. Along with contributing to sea level, freshwater melting from the Greenland Ice Sheet also affects marine ecosystems and important ocean circulations. As stated by the National Snow and Ice Data Center,

Melting in Greenland through the end of spring has been considerably higher than the 1981 to 2010 average, with several areas exceeding 10 days of extra melt over the average, and a few regions with more than 20 days. Just the southernmost tip of the island and a region across the northwestern side of the ice sheet are under the average thus far.

Tom Mote was among those scientists that found an abysmal Greenland melt event in 2012. Employing satellite-derived information, the researchers discovered that Greenland’s surface melting surpassed anything detected in the satellite age (1979 and onward). During this event, 97 percent of the ice sheet was undergoing surface melting. That event was correlated with a high pressure system and very hot temperatures.

What’s the present occasion garnering attention? The occasion this week is An extensive melt episode, also such as the 2012 occasion, surface falling reached the maximum altitude in Greenland. Mote says before this decade, it happened in the 1880s. Before the 1880s, scientists estimate that around the year 1100 was the final event of this magnitude. Such estimates are based on ice core and other proxy investigations that climatologists utilize to expand data records. Though a climate scientist, I do not research cryospheric processes. However, I can’t help but note that two of these”record” melting events have happened in the past 10 years after not happening for over 100 years. One of Mote’s recent doctoral students, Kyle Mattingly, has shown a link between plumes of moisture known as atmospheric rivers and these broad surface melting occasions. Other variables like the positioning of blocking highs and procedures related to climate warming are likely related also.

Mote, Who’s a Distinguished Research Professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Georgraphy, advised me

Although the greatest extent of the season, the primary”wow” is melting in The summit…A exceptional event in that we watched the warm air mass moving in from the east which appears to be about the record breaking European heat wave.

Nearly all of our big melt days are related to advection of heat and moisture in the southwest within the ice sheet. It might have happened, but I don’t remember a large melt event in the east. I believe this speaks to the size of the heating dome that was across Europe.

Dr. Christopher Shuman is a cryospheric scientist at NASA. Shuman, a colleague of Mote’s (and mine during my NASA days), confirmed temperatures at the highest elevation of 0.55 degrees C, which is above the freezing point of water. Mote also said,”got a message from the ICECAPS group indicating melt at Summit.” These independent verifications of this satellite-indicated melting imply that the observations are plausible.

Incidentally, the topographic profile of Greenland is shown in this Data provided from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System aboard NASA’s ICESat mission. Roughly 85 percent of Greenland, that is the biggest ice sheet in the world which is not found in Antarctica, is generally covered in icehockey. While the coastal regions of the ice sheet are near sea level, that the NASA Earth Observatory website points out:

The ice’s altitude climbs dramatically between sea level around the Coastline and the east-central interior, where elevations reach 3,200 Meters (10,499 feet). The bright line running north to south roughly Through the middle of the island shows where the ice sheet peaks at an Extended island-spanning ridge. Fainter (lower elevation) ridgelines are Visible near the northwest coast. The deeper shadows in the oriental (right) side of the major ridgeline indicate that the elevation drops Off to the sea more quickly. On the western slopes, the descent is more gradual.

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