Rainfall Observed at Peak of Greenland Ice Sheet for First Time on Record

Written by on August 24, 2021 in Climate Change, Environment with 0 Comments
image_pdfimage_print

Greenlandic ice cap melting glacier with tundra aerial view, near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. (Photo: Vadim Nefedov /Ambeon via 123RF)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

This past weekend, researchers at the National Science Foundation's Summit Station observed rainfall at the peak of Greenland's rapidly melting ice sheet for the first time on record—an event-driven by warming temperatures.

“It's something that's hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”
—Ted Scambos, the University of Colorado at Boulder


“This was the third time in less than a decade, and the latest date in the year on record, that the National Science Foundation's Summit Station had above-freezing temperatures and wet snow,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said in a press release earlier this week. “There is no previous report of rainfall at this location (72.58°N 38.46°W), which reaches 3,216 meters (10,551 feet) in elevation.”

Temperatures at the summit of the ice sheet rose above freezing at around 5:00 am local time on Saturday, “and the main event began at the same time,” NSIDC noted. “For the next several hours, rain fell and water droplets were seen on surfaces near the camp as reported by on-station observers.”

The anomalous rainfall at the ice sheet's peak marked the start of a three-day period during which “above-freezing temperatures and rainfall were widespread to the south and west of Greenland… with exceptional readings from several remote weather stations in the area,” said NSIDC. “Total rainfall on the ice sheet was 7 billion tons.”

The warmer-than-usual temperatures caused significant melting of the ice sheet, with melt extent peaking at 337,000 square miles on August 14.

“Warm conditions and the late-season timing of the three-day melt event coupled with the rainfall led to both high melting and high runoff volumes to the ocean,” NSIDC observed. “On August 15, 2021, the surface mass lost was seven times above the mid-August average… At this point in the season, large areas of bare ice exist along much of the southwestern and northern coastal areas, with no ability to absorb the melt or rainfall. Therefore, the accumulated water on the surface flows downhill and eventually into the ocean.”

Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told the Washington Post on Thursday that while the three-day melting event “by itself does not have a huge impact,” it is “indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland.”

“Like the heatwave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that's hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change,” said Scambos. “Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing. We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland—and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

In a landmark report released earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that “it is very likely that human influence has contributed to the observed surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet over the past two decades.”

In July—which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently deemed the hottest month ever recorded on Earth—a heatwave in Greenland caused enough melting to cover the entire state of Florida with two inches of water.

“What is going on is not simply a warm decade or two in a wandering climate pattern,” Scambos told CNN in response to the rainfall at the ice sheet's summit. “This is unprecedented.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Tags: , , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top
Send this to a friend