Greenland experiences melting over 97% of its area in mid-July

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:58 PM GMT on July 25, 2012

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Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organization's Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that 97% of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12--an event completely unprecedented in 30 years of satellite measurements. In a July 24 press release from NASA, Nghiem said, "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?" Multiple satellite data sets confirmed the remarkable event, though. Melt maps derived from three different satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet's surface had melted, as a strong ridge of high pressure set up over Greenland. By July 12, the melting had expanded to cover 97% of Greenland. As I blogged about last week, temperatures at at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, 10,551 feet (3216 meters) above sea level, and 415 miles (670 km) north of the Arctic Circle, had risen above the freezing mark four times in the 12-year span 2000 - 2011. But in mid-July 2012, temperatures eclipsed the freezing mark on five days, including four days in a row from July 11 - 14. Interestingly, ice core records show that in 1889, a similar pronounced melt event occurred at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and such events occur naturally about every 150 years. "But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome," said Lora Koenig, a NASA/Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. Such an event could occur as early as this weekend: the latest wunderground forecast for the Greenland Summit calls for above-freezing temperatures to return again by Saturday through Tuesday, with a high of 36°F (2°C) on Tuesday. This would come close to the record warm temperature at Summit of 3.6°C set just two weeks ago. Exceptionally warm temperatures in Greenland this July have been made more likely by the fact that Arctic sea ice area has been at record low levels so far this month. Furthermore, the Greenland Ice Sheet has become darker this July than at any point since satellite measurements began (Figure 2), allowing Greenland to absorb more solar energy and heat up.


Figure 1. 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. Image credit: NASA.



Figure 2. The albedo (reflectivity) of the Greenland Ice Sheet at its highest elevations (2,500 - 3,200 meters, or 8,200 - 10,500 feet) has steadily decreased in recent years as the ice has darkened due to increased melting and dark soot being deposited on the ice from air pollution. This July, the high elevations of Greenland were the darkest on record, which helped contribute to the record warm temperatures observed at the Greenland Summit. Image credit: Dr. Jason Box, Ohio State University.


Video 1. Melt water from the record July temperatures in Greenland fed the raging Watson River, which smashed two bridges connecting the north and south of Kangerlussuaq (Sønder Strømfjord), a small settlement in southwestern Greenland. The flow rate of 3.5 million liters/sec was almost double the previous record flow rate.

Greenland's Petermann Glacier
Greenland's glaciers have seen significant changes in recent years, as they respond to warmer air and water temperatures. Northwest Greenland's Petermann Glacier has seen two massive calving events in the past two years, though it is uncertain if these events were caused by the warming climate. The most recent event came on July 16, 2012, when the glacier calved a 46 square-mile iceberg two times the size of Manhattan. The same glacier calved an iceberg twice as big back on August 4, 2010--the largest iceberg observed in the Arctic since 1962. The freshwater stored in that ice island could have kept the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years, or kept all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days. According to a university press release by Andreas Muenchow, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, “While the size is not as spectacular as it was in 2010, the fact that it follows so closely to the 2010 event brings the glacier’s terminus to a location where it has not been for at least 150 years. Northwest Greenland and northeast Canada are warming more than five times faster than the rest of the world, but the observed warming is not proof that the diminishing ice shelf is caused by this, because air temperatures have little effect on this glacier; ocean temperatures do, and our ocean temperature time series are only five to eight years long — too short to establish a robust warming signal.”


Figure 3. The massive 46 square-mile iceberg two times the size of Manhattan that calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier on July 16, 2012, as seen on July 21, 2012, using MODIS satellite imagery. Image credit: NASA.

Related posts
Record warmth at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet (July 18, 2012)
Unprecedented May heat in Greenland; update on 2011 Greenland ice melt
Greenland update for 2010: record melting and a massive calving event

Jeff Masters

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An "Internet troll" or "Forum Troll" or "Message Board Troll"
is a person who posts outrageous message to bait people to answer.
Forum Troll delights in sowing discord on the forums. 
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

More like North Carolina and South Carolina, if a storm even makes landfall. It's hard to get a long-track Cape Verde system to make landfall.
Maybe a Track Like Irene.
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If I am reading this right..the trough is farther north on the GFS at 240 hours which dosent have a storm at all..so who will prevail..the GFS or Euro?

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16916
Would be awesome to have the good Doc give us a run down of the conference and his opinions on what they discussed.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
Quoting ncstorm:
240 hours-bermuda
Is that Gilma in the Eastern Pacific?
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Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Sooooooo, it's Florida then? LOL

More like North Carolina and South Carolina, if a storm even makes landfall. It's hard to get a long-track Cape Verde system to make landfall.
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Is 98L dead now or it still has some energy?
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Dozens killed in central Nigeria floods

At least 35 people dead and several others missing in floods triggered by heavy rain in Jos city.

Link
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Oh yeah, got to love them troughs. Seems like every time a system forms a trough comes down and sweeps them away. I'm beginning to think they work hand in hand
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Quoting ncstorm:
240 hours-bermuda



haha a recurve
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Deleted
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Looking like a trough-split setup off the Eastern Seaboard sometime within the next 8-10 days. This is the Euro/GFS 500mb height comparison for the 8-10 day range. Notice the piece of energy that looks to be getting left behind over South GA/North FL.



Also, this has been a fairly persistent pattern so far this summer. If a tropical wave/cyclone moves north of the islands, I still think it will have a hard time hitting the CONUS. The troughing has been weak, but it has been there. It's all about timing, as always. Just depends on when the trough lifts out and ridging takes its place (kind of like Beryl earlier in the year).
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472. VR46L
Quoting Neapolitan:
Well, let's see who was among this year's speakers.

Bastardi. Monckton. Easterbrook. Sensenbrenner. Singer. Soon. Watts. Among others...

My thoughts? That's about as motley a crew of debunked and discredited denialists as anyone's likely to see anytime soon. Until next year's conference. If there is one; turnout was so bad at this year's event that HI says they may not be able to convene next year...

Scientific truth has triumphed once again. The professional denial industry just doesn't want to admit it yet.





Quoting yoboi:


do you know if DR M attended??? if so did he write a blog about it??


I am gathering from the lack of response the answer maybe Yes!!!!
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Quoting reedzone:


The pattern is locked and dangerous for the East/Gulf Coast. Large banana shaped high will block anything fro recurving.

The current set up won't stay as strong as it is now. The Bermuda ridge is usually strongest during July which is why we typically don't get any Cape Verde storms and also way we get a lot of SAL outbreaks. Ultimately, it depends on the pattern at the time the storm forms.
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Quoting yoboi:


do you know if DR M attended??? if so did he write a blog about it??


That's about as likely as the Pope attending a conference of "Snake Charmers".
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


That is right as the infracstructure is not the best.
You all take notes from Bermuda please...
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12z run was strnger than the 00z run, should watch the wave for development.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7984
Quoting Gearsts:
For PR a simple storm can be worst than a cat 3 hurricane.


Sadly that is right as the infrastructure is not the best.
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Quoting BobWallace:


Don't forget that soot, while in the air, blocks incoming sunlight and results in cooler surface temperatures.

This climate stuff is very complex....
no doubt about that! and there's still so much we don't know, or haven't made the connection with..
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240 hours-bermuda
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16916
Quoting ncstorm:
216 hours
Trough comes to save the day!!!!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The good news for people living in the NE Caribbean islands is that tropical waves exiting the coast of Africa over the next two months should not develop significantly before reaching, or passing north of, their location. So while you could still get a storm, it shouldn't be a major one.

The same can't be said for the Bahamas, Southeast USA, and Bermuda.


The pattern is locked and dangerous for the East/Gulf Coast. Large banana shaped high will block anything fro recurving.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
I wouldn't say that.Never know if we could have Georges part to..

Hurricane Georges formed when La Nina conditions were present. We're in a warm neutral. Don't expect a track like that.

The majority of the Cape Verde storms we get should head west-northwest and hit the NE Caribbean islands or move north of them and then recurve between NC and Bermuda or hit the SE coastline.
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Closest bouy readings to the Blob 109 NM W-NW of Tampa.

Station 42036
NDBC
Location: 28.500N 84.517W
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2012 17:50:00 UTC

Winds: NW (320°) at 7.8 kt gusting to 9.7 kt
Significant Wave Height: 2.3 ft
Dominant Wave Period: 5 sec
Mean Wave Direction: WNW (290°)
Atmospheric Pressure: 30.03 in and falling
Air Temperature: 76.1 F
Dew Point: 72.7 F
Water Temperature: 83.1 F


Current readings for that non-tropical low ....If a tropical feature were developing, you would see a rapid drop in pressure and a little stronger winds I would think.

If the Blob is still there in the morning, this would be a good place to check back to in the am.
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At 216hrs there is a TD/weak TS or something like that.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7984
459. wxmod
Quoting BobWallace:


Don't forget that soot, while in the air, blocks incoming sunlight and results in cooler surface temperatures.

This climate stuff is very complex....


It's natural for people to try to make rules to help them understand the nature of things. Soot can make the surface cooler, but it can also make it hotter. Depends upon the soot and how it is mixed in the atmosphere.
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216 hours
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16916
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The good news for people living in the NE Caribbean islands is that tropical waves exiting the coast of Africa over the next two months should not develop significantly before reaching, or passing north of, their location. So while you could still get a storm, it shouldn't be a major one.

The same can't be said for the Bahamas, Southeast USA, and Bermuda.
I wouldn't say that.Never know if we could have Georges part to..
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Going to be a long night for me will several rounds of storms and Ill have to stay up in case they are severe.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DETROIT/PONTIAC MI
1116 AM EDT WED JUL 25 2012

MIZ063-068>070-075-076-082-083-261530-
ST. CLAIR-LIVINGSTON-OAKLAND-MACOMB-WASHTENAW-WAYNE-LE NAWEE-MONROE-
1116 AM EDT WED JUL 25 2012

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST
MICHIGAN.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT

SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED AFTER 4 PM. THERE IS A
CHANCE OF SEVERE WEATHER WITH THE STRONGEST STORMS CAPABLE OF
PRODUCING WIND GUSTS TO 60 MPH AND HAIL TO ONE INCH IN DIAMETER.
THERE IS A SLIGHT RISK OF TORNADOES. THE MORE PROBABLE TIME OF
SEVERE WEATHER WILL BE AFTER 6 PM AND CONTINUING THROUGH THE
NIGHT. THUNDERSTORM MOVEMENT WILL BE FROM WEST TO EAST AT 40 MPH.

LOW PRESSURE FORMING OVER THE PLAINS STATES TODAY WILL MOVE
THROUGH CENTRAL LOWER MICHIGAN TONIGHT. THIS SYSTEM WILL PULL A
WARM FRONT THROUGH SOUTHERN LOWER MICHIGAN DURING THE AFTERNOON
AND EVENING. THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE UPPER
MIDWEST TO TRACK INTO THE REGION ALONG THE WARM FRONT IN ADDITION
TO NEW STORMS FORMING ALONG THE FRONT ITSELF.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY

A COLD FRONT WILL SETTLE THROUGH SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN ON THURSDAY.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THUNDERSTORMS WILL AGAIN BECOME MORE LIKELY
AHEAD OF THIS FRONT ALONG AND SOUTH OF THE INTERSTATE 69
CORRIDOR DURING THE AFTERNOON. A FEW OF THESE STORMS MAY BECOME
SEVERE.

.SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...
DISPATCHERS...PLEASE NOTIFY YOUR EMERGENCY MANAGERS IMMEDIATELY.
SPOTTER ACTIVATION MAY BE NEEDED THIS EVENING INTO THE OVERNIGHT.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7984
455. Skyepony (Mod)
Wind is stoking some swamp fires in Brevard & Osceola Counties. Wunder if that's a controlled burn north end of Kennedy Space Center.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The good news for people living in the NE Caribbean islands is that tropical waves exiting the coast of Africa over the next two months should not develop significantly before reaching, or passing north of, their location. So while you could still get a storm, it shouldn't be a major one.

The same can't be said for the Bahamas, Southeast USA, and Bermuda.
For PR a simple storm can be worst than a cat 3 hurricane.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
114 ncstorm: As a avid watcher of the models, I still think both waves will develop as the GFS was showing that scenario...
115 washingtonian115: I know.The wave currently off the coast has been very persistent and has a nice low with it.I'm not so sure why the NHC hasn't out lined this yet..And no I'm not trying to bash them just saying...

Been flickering on&off on the prediction maps since GFS first noticed 'em. And even when on for a meaningful stretch of time, significant disagreement about future location and/or intensity between runs.
Add significant disagreement about future existence and/or location and/or intensity between models making the same run -- ie initializing with data from the same start-time -- and neither system has been as of yet something one would want to present as being sufficiently-high-probability-of-becoming-factual if one is being paid for ones professional opinion.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


I will do some research and see what I can find that will address your specific questions.

Here are some things that you can do as well:

Research Greenland's energy sources. I have previously read an article that Greenland is on par with Europe in its use of green energy. You can research this and discover how much Greenland is contributing to the darkening of its own glaciers. This will help you determine how much of this is local effect.

Russia has had MAJOR fires this year. Research how much of this soot contaminated the surface of the Greenland glaciers this year. You may also want to research how much of the previous soot from Russia and China have darkened the glaciers in Greenland.

Your questions and concerns are not invalid. What is invalid is your thinking that the minimal activity in the Arctic over the past several years have been the cause of what we see happening with Greenland's glaciers now. The atmosphere is a mixing bowl and local atmospheric issues are usually transported to other places and becoming their problem and not a local problem. Unless, of course, you are in an area like Mexico City that gets little atmospheric mixing due to it being in a low lying area surrounded by mountains.



I don't understand why that many people choose to live together in the middle of an extinct lake.

No offense to anyone, but just the photo of that looks insane.
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The good news for people living in the NE Caribbean islands is that tropical waves exiting the coast of Africa over the next two months should not develop significantly before reaching, or passing north of, their location. So while you could still get a storm, it shouldn't be a major one.

The same can't be said for the Bahamas, Southeast USA, and Bermuda.
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192 hrs has the wave still getting stronger, euro is deffinately hinting at something.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7984
192 hours-00z


192 hours-12z
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16916
Quoting Neapolitan:



Well, let's see who was among this year's speakers.

Bastardi. Monckton. Easterbrook. Sensenbrenner. Singer. Soon. Watts. Among others...

My thoughts? That's about as motley a crew of debunked and discredited denialists as anyone's likely to see anytime soon. Until next year's conference. If there is one; turnout was so bad at this year's event that HI says they may not be able to convene next year...

Scientific truth has triumphed once again. The professional denial industry just doesn't want to admit it yet.



are you going to debunk what they said?
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Thanks for that timely response Neo. Climate change conference with discredited corporate pawn scientists. How in the world is that even possible? Oh ya corporations own and control the world.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
445. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Hi Skye. Is there a recent pass for the CV wave?



Fairly recent partial OSCAT of the tropical wave just stepped off Africa.
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Interesting MCC in the Gulf, but appears light years away from developing. That high appears to extend from the upper atmosphere right down to the surface, so it seems unlikely to get under the anti-cyclone any time soon.

May even see this feature turn south if it doesn't get ripped apart any time soon.

GFS doesn't even initialize the thing, lol, shows what that model thinks of it. Although there is a large, but weak, tropical feature, possibly the latest wave, headed into Maine and Nova Scotia near the end of the model run. Probably hybridizes if it even makes named status...
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Quoting JNCali:

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the soot from the US fires made it to Greenland as well...


Don't forget that soot, while in the air, blocks incoming sunlight and results in cooler surface temperatures.

This climate stuff is very complex....
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Severe Thunderstorm Warning
FLC123-251900-
/O.NEW.KTAE.SV.W.0311.120725T1821Z-120725T1900Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
221 PM EDT WED JUL 25 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TALLAHASSEE HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL TAYLOR COUNTY IN FLORIDA...

* UNTIL 300 PM EDT

* AT 217 PM EDT...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS DETECTED A SEVERE
THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60
MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR PINLAND...AND MOVING SOUTH AT
10 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
ATHENA AND CARBUR

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH...PREPARE
IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE OUTSIDE SHOULD MOVE INSIDE A STRONG BUILDING BUT
AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

&&
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The 12z euro run has the wave much stronger than the 00z run. Could be something to keep an eye on so dont forget the wave.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7984
439. wxmod
Soot on the Greenland ice, top, and Greenland smog, bottom. MODIS satellite photos today.



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Quoting yoboi:


what are your thoughts about the keynote speakers at the international climate change conference???
Well, let's see who was among this year's speakers.

Bastardi. Monckton. Easterbrook. Sensenbrenner. Singer. Soon. Watts. Among others...

My thoughts? That's about as motley a crew of debunked and discredited denialists as anyone's likely to see anytime soon. Until next year's conference. If there is one; turnout was so bad at this year's event that HI says they may not be able to convene next year...

Scientific truth has triumphed once again. The professional denial industry just doesn't want to admit it yet.
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Quoting ncstorm:
168 hours..getting stronger..
A little too close for my liking.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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