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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Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5002
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here is a great site for those interested in how troughs and ridges affect the easterly waves..

Fig. 3. Relationship between troughs, ridges and atmospheric pressure in easterly waves.


Fig. 8. Location of convergence and divergence in an easterly wave in relation to the trough axis
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compare maps jun24 july 24
big sst increase on the bering strait side of globe
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From the NHC 2 AM Discussion: (What? Did somebody not show up for 8 a.m.?)
...TROPICAL WAVES...

A 1010 MB LOW IS OFF THE W COAST OF AFRICA NEAR 13N21W MOVING W 10-15 KT. LOW IS EMBEDDED WITHIN AN AREA OF DEEP LAYER MOISTURE AS DEPICTED ON TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY. SCATTERED MODERATE/ ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS FROM 12N-15N BETWEEN 21W-24W.

MID ATLC TROPICAL WAVE EXTENDS FROM 21N39W TO 13N43W MOVING W NEAR 15 KT. WAVE IS ALONG THE LEADING EDGE OF A SURGE OF DEEP LAYER MOISTURE AS DEPICTED ON TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY.
NO ASSOCIATED DEEP CONVECTION.

TROPICAL WAVE IS IN THE CENTRAL CARIBBEAN EXTENDING FROM 19N74W TO 11N75W MOVING W 20-25 KT. WAVE IS ALONG THE LEADING EDGE OF LOW AMPLITUDE SURGE OF DEEP LAYER MOISTURE AS DEPICTED ON TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY. NO ASSOCIATED SHOWERS/DEEP CONVECTION.

TROPICAL WAVE IS IN THE CENTRAL CARIBBEAN EXTENDING FROM 20N81W TO 12N82W MOVING W 15-20 KT. WAVE IS EMBEDDED WITHIN DRIER AIR AS DEPICTED ON TOTAL PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY MASKING THE SATELLITE SIGNATURE. NO ASSOCIATED SHOWERS/DEEP CONVECTION.

...ITCZ/MONSOON TROUGH...

THE MONSOON TROUGH EXTENDS ACROSS W AFRICA INTO THE E TROPICAL ATLC NEAR 17N16W THROUGH THE 1010 MB LOW CONTINUING ALONG 12N25W 13N33W TO 11N41W WHERE THE ITCZ CONTINUES ALONG 7N50W TO INLAND OVER SOUTH AMERICA NEAR 6N57W. CLUSTERS OF SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION ARE WITHIN 150/180 NM S OF THE MONSOON TROUGH BETWEEN 25W-32W AND WITHIN 150 NM EITHER SIDE OF THE ITCZ BETWEEN 44W-52W.

And wow we're still here... !
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Looks like StL will break '34s record for days above 105 today, 96 already. Not sure what days above 100 record is, but have to be closing in on it also. Hope the forecast for rain tomorrow holds out, desperately need some in my area.
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Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5002
Quoting hydrus:
Strong trough for early August if it materializes..204 GFS..
Sending whatever is coming from Africa AWAY from us :).
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 19158
Quoting hydrus:
Strong trough for early August if it materializes..204 GFS..


Beginning to get that El-Nino look.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Never read those, but always have been a fan of "The Martian Chronicles" (and almost anything else Ray Bradbury wrote)
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Quoting DrMickey:

Sorry, Grothar; I didn't mean any offense.


I never get offended.
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Strong trough for early August if it materializes..204 GFS..
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waiting for the 12z GFS and the EURO runs to make a difinitive statement as to the development of the wave se of the cv islands and the one to exit the coast in 24 hrs. what i do no that conditions are favourable for slow development of the wave now off the african coast
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Like the novels by Kim Stanley Robinson "Red Mars", "Green Mars", "Blue Mars" Trilogy
Quoting RitaEvac:
Mars One plans suicide mission to Red Planet for 2023



They will then be sent to Mars, never again to return.

“We will send humans to Mars in 2023,” he told FoxNews.com. “They will live there the rest of their lives. There will be a habitat waiting for them, and we’ll start sending four people every two years.”

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Quoting ncstorm:


I agree..


Everything almost looks stacked.Maybe the atmosphere won't support the development of it which is probably why the GFS isn't so excited about development.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 19158
Quoting 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..


I agree..


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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


And to some extent the ECMWF.


exactly..

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Quoting ncstorm:


As a avid watcher of the models, I still think both waves will develop as the GFS was showing that scenario..


And to some extent the ECMWF.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 15602
Quoting ncstorm:


As a avid watcher of the models, I still think both waves will develop as the GFS was showing that scenario..
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..
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 19158
Quoting washingtonian115:
Funny that the GFS was developing that wave south east of the cape verde islands and the one behind it.If anything the GFS is in denial!!!


As a avid watcher of the models, I still think both waves will develop as the GFS was showing that scenario..
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98L is now producing convection but now it may be to late for it to acquire a name.
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Funny that the GFS was developing that wave south east of the cape verde islands and the one behind it.If anything the GFS is in denial!!!
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 19158
Quoting Grothar:


Close, very close. Congrats.


Credit to google, not me.

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Quoting DrMickey:

Reads like your blog :-)

Sorry, Grothar; I didn't mean any offense.
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Quoting 59. Barefootontherocks:
Perfect irony.
:)

(T-50)
How so? I have never seen Nea address Dr. Masters in such a way.
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WOW!!
Quoting ilovehurricanes13:
we need to watch the tropical wave on land look how fast the spin its there to..
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5002
Quoting Grothar:
I don't usually do this, but here is an e-mail from one of our friends who lives in Greenland. I don't think he would mind if I shared it. Have fun.

Hei, Haak, Hvordan har du det? Jeg håber du og din familie er godt. Jeg ved, du har læst vores små problemer her. Kan du tro det? Temperaturerne har været meget varm, når du ja kender. Vores små gletsjere smelter. Det er ikke det land, du husker. Vi har forskere fra Danmark, Norge og USA, men de ser bare og ryster på hovedet. Oversvømmelserne er af stor bekymring på grund af vores skrøbelige broer. Har det godt og hilsner til alle. Og Haak, svaret på norsk, hvis du vil. Dansk er allerede ødelagt her NOK. (smiler)


Hei, Haak, How are you? I hope you and your family are well. I know you have read our little problems here. Can you believe it? Temperatures were very hot when you even know. Our small glaciers are melting. It is not the country that you remember. We have scientists from Denmark, Norway and USA, but they just look and shakes his head. Flooding is of major concern because of our fragile bridges. Do it well and greetings to all. And Haak, the response in Norwegian, if you want. Danish is already ruined here NOK. (smiles)

Google Translate is your friend, folks.
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Quoting greentortuloni:
Hei, Haak, How are you? I hope you and your family are well. I know you have read our little problems here. Can you believe it? Temperatures were very hot when you even know. Our small glaciers are melting. It is not the country that you remember. We have scientists from Denmark, Norway and USA, but they just look and shakes his head. Flooding is of major concern because of our fragile bridges. Do it well and greetings to all. And Haak, the response in Norwegian, if you want. Danish is already ruined here NOK. (smiles)


Close, very close. Congrats.
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Mars One plans suicide mission to Red Planet for 2023



They will then be sent to Mars, never again to return.

“We will send humans to Mars in 2023,” he told FoxNews.com. “They will live there the rest of their lives. There will be a habitat waiting for them, and we’ll start sending four people every two years.”
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103. BDAwx
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


did you get the debby images?


yep! thanks for that, Debby came a little closer than I expected and had pretty decent structure.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


The heat across the EAST and SE US may break next week as a trough settles in and this maybe a semi permant feature for several weeks once it build in this time next week.
I suppose it could happen--but for now the Climate Prediction Center's not buying into it:

hot

hot
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14368
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Quoting BDAwx:


This chart makes no sense to me. How do you have negative mass? Am I reading this right?


did you get the debby images?
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Our Blobs in the GOM just don't seem to want to go away!
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WAVES!
DONT DIE ON ME!
Member Since: October 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2620
Quoting hydrus:
Monthly unsmoothed values of the total mass (in Gigatons, Gt), of the Greenland ice sheet from GRACE. On the horizontal axis, each year begins on 1 January. Each small + symbol is a monthly value.


This chart makes no sense to me. How do you have negative mass? Am I reading this right?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hei, Haak, How are you? I hope you and your family are well. I know you have read our little problems here. Can you believe it? Temperatures were very hot when you even know. Our small glaciers are melting. It is not the country that you remember. We have scientists from Denmark, Norway and USA, but they just look and shakes his head. Flooding is of major concern because of our fragile bridges. Do it well and greetings to all. And Haak, the response in Norwegian, if you want. Danish is already ruined here NOK. (smiles)
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Quoting WxGeekVA:




nosotros gusta?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
english dude english


Come on, I know you all use those translator things on the blog. They never come out right, but they are close enough. It is in Danish. I love to do this to people who haven't had their second cup of coffee.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Gro I read your blog..I just don't comment :).Sorta like a lurker.


Lurker??? Well, you certainly commment enough here. LOL
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(wont.notice.any.water.change.until.a.storm.comes). .KOG.said.this
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Quoting Grothar:
I don't usually do this, but here is an e-mail from one of our friends who lives in Greenland. I don't think he would mind if I shared it. Have fun.

Hei, Haak, Hvordan har du det? Jeg håber du og din familie er godt. Jeg ved, du har læst vores små problemer her. Kan du tro det? Temperaturerne har været meget varm, når du ja kender. Vores små gletsjere smelter. Det er ikke det land, du husker. Vi har forskere fra Danmark, Norge og USA, men de ser bare og ryster på hovedet. Oversvømmelserne er af stor bekymring på grund af vores skrøbelige broer. Har det godt og hilsner til alle. Og Haak, svaret på norsk, hvis du vil. Dansk er allerede ødelagt her NOK. (smiler)
english dude english
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
I don't usually do this, but here is an e-mail from one of our friends who lives in Greenland. I don't think he would mind if I shared it. Have fun.

Hei, Haak, Hvordan har du det? Jeg håber du og din familie er godt. Jeg ved, du har læst vores små problemer her. Kan du tro det? Temperaturerne har været meget varm, når du ja kender. Vores små gletsjere smelter. Det er ikke det land, du husker. Vi har forskere fra Danmark, Norge og USA, men de ser bare og ryster på hovedet. Oversvømmelserne er af stor bekymring på grund af vores skrøbelige broer. Har det godt og hilsner til alle. Og Haak, svaret på norsk, hvis du vil. Dansk er allerede ødelagt her NOK. (smiler)

Reads like your blog :-)
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Quoting washingtonian115:
If that's the case once again the U.S will be spared from the badies coming from Africa.No one can't tell me that someone is looking out for us..


well see. It could be good or bad especailly if the Cape Verde storms travel thru the Caribbean then recurve.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651


Hey, the dark blue areas (SAL) are quite diluted (green) surrounding that 2nd wave
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


The heat across the EAST and SE US may break next week as a trough settles in and this maybe a semi permant feature for several weeks once it build in this time next week.
If that's the case once again the U.S will be spared from the badies coming from Africa.No one can't tell me that someone is looking out for us..
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 19158

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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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