Greenland ice sheet melt one month early shocks and alarms scientists

Nearly 12% of the Greenland ice sheet had more than 1mm of melt by 11th April this year, one month earlier than the previous record of 10% by 5th May in 2010, say Danish scientists, who expressed alarm at such an early thaw. These figures are according to an observation-initialized weather model carried out by the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), which makes weather forecasts and observations for Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. The Greenland melting figures shocked weather specialists so much that they double-checked and checked that the models were working correctly. These maps show areas that have seen melting in the past two days. (Image by polarportal.dk). Peter Langen from DMI is a climate scientist. He said that “we had to verify that our models still worked properly.” Fortunately we could see from the PROMICE.dk stations on the ice sheet that it had been well above melting, even above 10 degC. This helped to explain the results.” The previous three records for a melt area greater than 10% occurred on: – 5th May 2010, – 8th May 1990, – 8th May 1990. An almost 12% melt by 11th April is considerably earlier than any climate expert could have imagined. The percentage of the total area of the ice where the melting took place from January 1st until 11th April (blue). The 1990-2013 average is represented by the graph in dark grey. Grey shaded areas represent the daily variation over time. (Image: polarportal.dk). Warmer temperatures can also be found at higher altitudes. Robert Fausto (Geological Survey of Denmark & Greenland – De Nationale Geologiske Undersogelser For Danmark Og Gronland), who manages PROMICE.dk melt information, stated that even weather stations high up in the icesheet experienced very high temperatures Monday. At KAN_U for example, a site at 1840 m above sea level, we observed a maximum temperature of 3.1degC.” “This would be a warm day in July, never mind April.” In other parts of Greenland where PROMICE stations are located at lower levels, daily average temperatures were between 5degC and 10degC. The same thing happened around Greenland’s coast. DMI has been recording climate records there since 1873,. In April, a new high-temperature record for Greenland was almost set. Kangerlussuaq, a settlement in western Greenland, registered a daily maximum of 17.8degC, while the DMI observation station at the Summit of Greenland, located 3,216 metres (10,551 ft) above sea level, set a new ‘warm’ April record of -6.6degC. Nuuk residents commenting on abnormal April Residents at Nuuk, the capital and largest city in Greenland, with a population of 16,583, have been commenting on the abnormal April weather. Aqqaluk, who lives in Nuuk, said that everything is melting. This map shows the abnormal flow pattern over Greenland on Monday, 11 April 2016, 18 UTC. The lines (isohypses), connect points at equal heights of the 500 pressure level. This is a measurement of the average temperature of 5-6km above the surface. These numbers are coloured and indicate the freezing point (i.e. Below which temperature is below zero degrees. SFC stands for surface level. Image: polarportal.dk. The ice melting was caused by warm, south-westerly winds that brought rain to the coastline. This is similar to a 2012 extreme melting when 95% of the ice sheets had melted. A situation which has been detailed by DMI (Fausto et. al., 2016).). Martin Stendel, DMI climate scientist, said that the situation was unusual, particularly early in the season. He noted that there were very low pressures to the east and west of Greenland, and warm air creating a “cap”. The frontal system was triggered by very warm, up-the-west air bringing down rain. “The very cold weather in northern Greenland contrasts with the pattern.” That is how London would look if all of Greenland’s ice sheets were gone and sea levels rose 20. Image: asset.inhabitat.com. Temperatures are expected to fall over this week according to Marie Rasmussen and Jesper Eriksen (two DMI weather forecasters). However, a new frontal system that arrives on Thursday could again bring about significant melt in parts of the south. The majority of meltwater from the ice sheets and rain at this time of year flows into the snow, where it freezes again. Fausto, DMI & DTU and Jason Box work at GEUS. They lead a Danish Research Council Project. (Image: citizenactionmonitor.files) Why does Greenland ice sheet matter? The Greenland ice sheet extends about 656,000 square miles (1.7 sq km), covering most of Greenland – about three times the size of Texas. The National Snow and Ice Data Center projects that the sea level will rise to 20 (6 meters) if all of the Greenland’s ice sheets melt. This would render many cities uninhabitable around the globe, including those in Florida and parts of the United Kingdom, most of which are located in London. It could spell disaster for the world. Video: Greenland’s Ice Sheet Melting faster Than Ever

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