EcoAlert: Greenland Undergoing Extreme Record Ice Melt
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July 24, 2012

EcoAlert: Greenland Undergoing Extreme Record Ice Melt

 

                Greenland

For several days this month, Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.

On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet naturally melts. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July.

Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise.

"The Greenland ice sheet is a vast area with a varied history of change. This event, combined with other natural but uncommon phenomena, such as the large calving event last week on Petermann Glacier, are part of a complex story," said Tom Wagner, NASA's cryosphere program manager in Washington. "Satellite observations are helping us understand how events like these may relate to one another as well as to the broader climate system."

Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that most of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12. Nghiem said, "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?"

Nghiem consulted with Dorothy Hall at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Hall studies the surface temperature of Greenland using the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. She confirmed that MODIS showed unusually high temperatures and that melt was extensive over the ice sheet surface.

Thomas Mote, a climatologist at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga; and Marco Tedesco of City University of New York also confirmed the melt seen by Oceansat-2 and MODIS with passive-microwave satellite data from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder on a U.S. Air Force meteorological satellite.

The melting spread quickly. Melt maps derived from the three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had melted. By July 12, 97 percent had melted.

This extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated Greenland's weather since the end of May. "Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one," said Mote. This latest heat dome started to move over Greenland on July 8, and then parked itself over the ice sheet about three days later. By July 16, it had begun to dissipate.

Even the area around Summit Station in central Greenland, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point of the ice sheet, showed signs of melting. Such pronounced melting at Summit and across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889, according to ice cores analyzed by Kaitlin Keegan at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather station at Summit confirmed air temperatures hovered above or within a degree of freezing for several hours July 11-12.

"Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time," says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. "But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome."

Image below shows the extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. In the image, the areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to those sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. The areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected surface melting.

The satellites are measuring different physical properties at different scales and are passing over Greenland at different times. As a whole, they provide a picture of an extreme melt event about which scientists are very confident.

 

           670398main_greenland_2012194-673

 

Image Credit: Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory

Comments

While I'm not a huge fan of the cold, this is not good. People need to wake up to the fact that our species is causing some catastrophic global changes, and that is not just limited to the climate.

Finally some recognition that the Earth's climate is related to natural cycles. I hope one day soon that Daily Galaxy will include that these natural cycles also have something to do with the sun and coincide with pandemics, and economic downturns to. It is a nice little interesting fact that the Vikings were farming on Greenland in 1000 BC that since has been covered in ice due to global cooling. If sea levels rise it is not the end of the world as any people that are displaced from low lying coastal areas could move to Greenland and enjoy bounty-full crop returns as the land will become green again (this includes all land masses in the northern and southern hemispheres).
The science has been available for a long time to prove that the IPCC and their man made global warming fraud is a load of crap; It really goes to show how the power of propaganda in the media can sway a uneducated public to accept draconian policies to control all aspects of the economy. When do we start dismantling these Co2 taxes and credit swap schemes that only benefit the elite?

Lee,

Which parts of Greenland did the Viking depart and were since covered with ice?

Thank you,
Beer

Folks,
Check out this graph of temperatures for the last 1500 years, shows fluctuating temperatures and also below is a historical chart of settlements.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grtemp.png
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Artic-cultures-900-1500.png

Sounds like sea level is rising faster than anticipated. Better pack up the
kids and move to a higher elevation or learn to swim like a fish.

@dr burke
Don't swim like the fishes, move to Greenland and grow corn and tomatoes.

Lee, no Vikings farmed Greenland 1000 B.C. Vikings lived in Scandinavia from around the 8th century A.D. to about the 11th century A.D.
While it's absolutely true that the planet has temperature cycles, the climate changes we have witnessed the last century is happening on to short of a timescale for it to be a natural occurence.

Northman - Wiki article on Brattahlíð below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brattahl%C3%AD%C3%B0

I've always liked the Grœnlendinga saga. Did they name it Greenland as an act of 'perception management' or was it actually green at the time of Leif the Lucky?

Fascinating stuff.

From another overhyped article on this subject:
"Ice cores from [Summit Station in central Greenland] show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time," says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.

@ northman
One only has to do a Internet search to to find that there is archaeological evidence that the Vikings grew barley and hearded goats on the once grassy slopes of Greenland.. I know that this is a inconvenient truth for you but it is time to stop denying the overwhelming evidence that man-made global warming is a fraud..
Some people will even tell you that man didn't even land on the moon.

Northman is right, typo on the BC. The Vikings farmed on Greenland during the medieval warm period. I did bring out the rats though didn't I.

Of course the Earth has its natural cycles. Nobody can dispute that, its a fact. However to suggest that mankind's constant poisoning and pollution of the Earth's oceans and skies is not having an effect on the Earth's climate is beyond moronic. At the very least all the greenhouse gases we emit are advancing the cycle. Everything is connected within our biosphere. The whole in the Earth's ozone is a completely man made environmental effect.

CO2, wherever it comes from, is 393 parts per million of the atmosphere, that's less than half of one percent, and those warmists think that little can make that much difference to the climate???

Pike,

How much does it take to make a difference?

Thank you,
Beer

What matters is - it's happening. Why is important also to figure out. Could be global warming is more of a cycle than thru manmade causes. However, there's so much evidence that we're contributing significantly to it by pollution - that we really need to start doing something huge to stop what we're doing. Eh? :-)

Good point John. Regardless of the main reason for these effects, it's obvious that we are contributors to the problem, well, if it is a problem (to the world, not just to humans), nobodies really sure yet. It is a proven fact the the Earth doesn't rotates perfectly, it wobbles. This could be a cycle that is unobservable by creatures with such a short history as we have. But again, it's very obvious that we do have an impact, so we should figure out a way to get on the same page and everyone individually contribute to causing less harm to the environment.

Oh it's pretty definitely a problem...fortunately, once we've wiped ourselves all out (and numerous other species while we're at it)the Earth'll probably manage to sort itself out again.
Well I hope so!

pikestaff:

Since C02 makes up only a small percentage of the atmosphere, our massive emissions are more concerning, not less concerning. If C02 made up 80% of the atmosphere like nitrogen our output would have less of an impact.

Besides that C02 is far from the most concerning or potent greenhouse gas. Methane, whether directly from emissions, from industrial farming (where methane emissions from cattle are not offset by the carbon sink that is working pasture), or released from permafrost due to warming, is just one example.


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