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

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

Share this Blog
52
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 436 - 386

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Quoting Skyepony:


Not so much whirling there. But on satellite the whirling seems to pick up a bit about an hour after this pass.


Hmmmmmm.....
Thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The 250mb vort map as to the Gulf blob just updated on CIMSS. The ULL/Tutt cell near it this morning has slid off to the SE. Gives it a little more room to breathe but also takes away some of the ventilation. It may just diminish and die off by this evening.

Updated 250mb Tutt Cell

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Mesoscale disscusion 1583
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7958
168 hours..getting stronger..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16039
432. txjac
Sitting here in west Houston under dark clouds. Lot's of thunder happening but no rain. Weather is a lot cooler as well ...nice day all around
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:


Its not closed yet on the Euro on that frame..lets see what it does with it but Im not counting that first wave out yet..
At 144 hours the low is gone but the wave remains strong and its impacting the northern Lesser Antillies.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7958
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
the 120 hour frame didnt load..here is the 144 hour
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16039
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 local effect.

Russia has had MAJOR fires this year. Research how much of this soot contaminated the surface of the Greenland glaciers this year.....

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the soot from the US fires made it to Greenland as well...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm curious about that too Yoboi.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
My bad on that post above...I originally gave you the 500mb vort instead of 850. I confused myself when I did that and started thinking I was looking at an old 850 vort map. Anyway, my original post was correct (other than the 500mb map). LOL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


^^What he said.
Mainly the potential for significant winds
Hopefully nothing as bad as past storms.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7958
422. yoboi
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 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 have found some very good articles about china's growth pattern for the past 15yrs and how it could impact the globe, the russia fires are interesting i never considered that. thanks...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
421. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Jrrtrollkien:


Does that indicate whirling?


Not so much whirling there. But on satellite the whirling seems to pick up a bit about an hour after this pass.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Tomorrow has the potential to be worse than June 29.
Another derecho? Where?

EDIT: Guess it's from Midwest to New England...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting washingtonian115:
GFS also has a closed low..looks like we almost have some model agreement.


Its not closed yet on the Euro on that frame..lets see what it does with it but Im not counting that first wave out yet..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16039
This disturbed weather in the NE Gulf is what's left of the area that came across South FL on Sunday. Interesting how it has persisted. I mentioned Monday that I didn't see it going straight inland because it would be cut-off from doing so by an area of high pressure to the north. Well, it's still sitting here two days later. It still has less than 10% chance of developing, but it's neat to see it flare up again today. There is an actual area of low-level spin, but it's not where you would think. The actual spin is off to the east of the convection slightly, and just off the West Coast of FL. You can see it spinning there on close-up visible loops and the 850mb vort map backs it as well.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SouthTampa:


I thought they were going to form further inland today with the SSW dominate flow. It's nice to get a little rain so I don't have to water the plants tonight.
yes I got a real nice shower there for a few minutes, no watering the plants needed today as well
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:


its the wave southeast of the Cape Verde islands..
GFS also has a closed low..looks like we almost have some model agreement.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
415. yoboi
Quoting Neapolitan:
The earth may indeed be cooling. It would just be so much easier to detect that cooling if it wasn't masked by all that goshdarned warming...

Peter Ferrera--that "calm, dispassionate" fellow who wrote the article to wish you linked--has long been affiliated with the ExxonMobil-funded Heartland Institute, the "calm, dispassionate" force behind the "calm, dispassionate" ad campaign calling climate scientists sociopaths and mass murderers. He's also the author of the "calm, dispassionate" publications The Obamacare Disaster and President Obama's Tax Piracy. With such impeccable credentials, then, I'm certain he would be an objective, fair, and balanced voice in the debate. :-\

The largest oil companies make a combined profit of roughly $375 million per day. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to believe they'd like to keep that up as long as possible, and through any means possible.


what are your thoughts about the keynote speakers at the international climate change conference???
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wxchaser97:
Tomorrow is mostly a widspread damaging wind threat with a small chance of a tornado.


^^What he said.
Mainly the potential for significant winds
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
Deleted
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7958
Quoting washingtonian115:
That's interesting..is that from the wave currently south east of the cape verde islands or the one about to emerge.


its the wave southeast of the Cape Verde islands..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16039
102 in St Lou - new record for days above 105 coming soon!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:
96 hours..oh oh..actual low on the Euro

That's interesting..is that from the wave currently south east of the cape verde islands or the one about to emerge.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tribucanes:
Yoboi, you've always been classy with how you state what you believe. Enjoy having you here. Oh my GeorgiaStormz, when did that happen. Just looked at the severe weather page at NOAA not long ago. Has the tornado risk for the 45% area gone up too?
Tomorrow is mostly a widspread damaging wind threat with a small chance of a tornado.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7958
407. yoboi
Quoting Tribucanes:
Respect is paramount to any successful debate. Honesty is also paramount to any successful debate. I've never believed you to be disingenuous Yoboi. If we all agreed, it'd get boring in a hurry. Neo did a great job debunking the piece and giving the back story to it. Neo is a polarizing figure here, but I think he provides some of the very best info regarding GW.


i respect neo and pat, but if i disagree with them i am not afraid to call them out...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167


...MID-MS/OH VALLEYS TO THE NORTHEAST/SRN NEW ENGLAND...
CONFIDENCE CONTINUES TO GROW WITH POTENTIAL FOR SCATTERED TO
NUMEROUS ORGANIZED SEVERE TSTMS...PARTICULARLY FROM THE MIDWEST TO
THE NORTHEAST. AN MCS SHOULD BE ONGOING ACROSS PARTS OF THE LOWER
GREAT LAKES...SUPPORTED BY AN INITIAL MID-LEVEL SPEED MAX AND ROBUST
LOW-LEVEL WAA ADVECTION. THIS SHOULD RETARD THE NERN ADVANCEMENT OF
THE WARM FRONT AND SUBSEQUENT EVOLUTION OF THIS ACTIVITY DOES BREED
UNCERTAINTY OVER WHERE THE FRONT WILL ULTIMATELY ANCHOR.

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16039
Quoting washingtonian115:
I think that's Ernesto..
Quoting washingtonian115:
I think that's Ernesto..
probably is.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
382) Me! (& everybody else in IL & IN)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
the NHC really don`t like 98L it has the same structure and convection as our other 3 non tropical storms that transition to tropical.sad that they don`t want to name it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MississippiWx:
Tropical Storm Alberto when he was named on May 19th:



Invest 98L currently:



Would love to know how thunderstorm activity is the main inhibitor for 98L and not for Alberto...
I think that's Ernesto..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
96 hours..oh oh..actual low on the Euro

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16039
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Tomorrow has the potential to be worse than June 29.


at least it's staying more rural.
not totally, but somewhat.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
398. yoboi
Quoting Tribucanes:
Respect is paramount to any successful debate. Honesty is also paramount to any successful debate. I've never believed you to be disingenuous Yoboi. If we all agreed, it'd get boring in a hurry. Neo did a great job debunking the piece and giving the back story to it. Neo is a polarizing figure here, but I think he provides some of the very best info regarding GW.


i agree with science and facts but when you use an analogy as science; i am not drinking that kool-aid.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:
ASCAT of Gulf of Mexico blob.


Hi Skye. Is there a recent pass for the CV wave?
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14559
Quoting Skyepony:
Fresh ASCAT of the BOC blob..


Does that indicate whirling?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yoboi, you've always been classy with how you state what you believe. Enjoy having you here. Oh my GeorgiaStormz, when did that happen. Just looked at the severe weather page at NOAA not long ago. Has the tornado risk for the 45% area gone up too?
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
might be a trough split in the GOM..

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16039
Tropical Storm Alberto when he was named on May 19th:



Invest 98L currently:



Would love to know how thunderstorm activity is the main inhibitor for 98L and not for Alberto...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Who's ready to rumble?:
And BTW I just hope that doesn't shift south..for some odd reason D.C has been attracting some strange storms this year...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
390. yoboi
Quoting ncstorm:
Sorry Global Warming Alarmists, The Earth Is Cooling

Central to these natural cycles is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Every 25 to 30 years the oceans undergo a natural cycle where the colder water below churns to replace the warmer water at the surface, and that affects global temperatures by the fractions of a degree we have seen. The PDO was cold from the late 1940s to the late 1970s, and it was warm from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, similar to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

Im in no way debating this issue..just posting an article...But also wanted to post this piece from the article which this blog should take note of

What you will see are calm, dispassionate presentations by serious, pedigreed scientists discussing and explaining reams of data.


thanks for posting...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tribucanes:
As I stated yesterday, GW is not a debate, it's a proven science. I am still waiting on a scientific based argument that can be backed up by fact that GW is not happening. Heard a lot of lies and misinformation from those saying GW isn't happening. I've yet to once hear a scientifically based argument, that can be backed up, against GW. I've been here every day for awhile and that scientific, based in facts argument, has never once come down the pipeline. I am awaiting it, and I will be forever; because it can't be made without misrepresenting facts.


Well, there is that whole "tropopause water vapour being frozen out displaces CO2 warming considering water vapor is responsible for most of greenhouse gas effect" and somewhat less robust "CO2 IR wavelengths are saturated" theory.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Who's ready to rumble?:

Im ready to rumble, Im only in the slight risk but Im also in a slight risk today.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7958
98L:

Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Who's ready to rumble?:

Tomorrow has the potential to be worse than June 29.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32524

Viewing: 436 - 386

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy
27 °F
Partly Cloudy