Dark Snow Project: Crowd-Source Funded Science for Greenland

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:03 PM GMT on April 26, 2013

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"There's no place on Earth that is changing faster--and no place where that change matters more--than Greenland." So said 350.org founder Bill McKibben, in a 2012 Rolling Stone magazine interview. As Earth Week 2013 draws to a close, I want to draw your attention to a unique effort to learn more about why Greenland is melting so fast--a crowd-funded research project that anyone can contribute to, which aims to answer the "burning question": How much does wildfire and industrial soot darken the ice, increasing melt? The Dark Snow Project, the first-ever Greenland expedition relying on crowd-source funding, hopes to raise $150,000 to mount a field research campaign to find out. The project is the brainchild of Dr. Jason Box, Professor at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), and one of the world's leading experts on Greenland's glaciers. He has set up a website called darksnowproject.org to help raise the funds for the field campaign, and has raised about half of the needed amount as of mid-April.


Figure 1. Over the course of several years, turbulent water overflow from a large melt lake carved this 60-foot-deep (18.3 meter-deep) canyon in Greenland's Ice Sheet (note people near left edge for scale). Image credit: Ian Joughin, University of Washington.

2012: Unprecedented melting in Greenland
Watching the weather events of 2012 over Greenland made all seasoned climate watchers a little queasy. The vast ice sheet on the island holds enough water to raise global sea levels by 7.36 meters (24.15 feet) were it all to melt, and the ice melt season of 2012 gave notice that an epic melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet may be underway. According to NOAA's 2012 Arctic Report Card, the duration of melting at the surface of the ice sheet in summer 2012 was the longest since satellite observations began in 1979, and the total amount of summer melting was nearly double the previous record, set in 2010 (satellite records of melting go back to 1979.) A rare, near-ice sheet-wide surface melt event melted 97% of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet on July 11 - 12. While a similar melt event at the summit occurred 1889, but the 1889 event has no basis in the instrumental record from coastal Greenland. It's instead likely that 2012 was Greenland's warmest summer in at least 863 years, since the medieval warm period (see http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=677 and http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=725). The incredibly warm temperatures have been blamed on highly unusual atmospheric circulation and jet stream changes, which were also responsible for 2012's unusually wet summer weather in England. It would not be a surprise if this sort of summer began occurring more often, since temperatures on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet have been rising six times faster than the global average during the past twenty years. A May 2013 Geophysical Research Letters paper by McGrath et al., "Recent warming at Summit, Greenland: Global context and implications", concluded that by 2025, there is a 50% chance of ice sheet-wide melt events happening annually. The ice sheet reached its darkest value on record in 2012. The darkened surface was due to below average summer snow, soot particles from pollution and forest fires, and record melting. A darker ice sheet absorbs more solar energy, in a vicious cycle that raises temperatures, melts more ice, and further darkens the ice sheet. The amount of melting that was caused by soot from forest fires is important to know, since global warming is likely to increase the amount of forest fires in coming decades. However, the amount of forest fire soot landing on the Greenland Ice Sheet is almost completely unknown, which is why Dr. Box is determined to find out, via the Dark Snow Project.


Figure 2. Smoke from a fire in Labrador, Canada wafts over the Greenland ice sheet on June 17, 2012, as seen in this cross-section view of aerosol particles taken by NASA's CALIPSO satellite. Image credit: Dr. Jason Box, Ohio State University.

Greenland causing 25% of global sea level rise
In a landmark study published in November 2012 in Science, 47 researchers from 26 laboratories reported that the amount of ice being lost from Greenland and Antarctica has tripled since the 1990s, with Greenland contributing more than twice as much to global sea level rise than Antarctica. The study, "A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance", found that the two ice sheets were responsible for 20% of the global sea level rise of 3.1 mm/year during the 20-year period 1992 - 2011. The remainder of the rise was due to expansion of the water due to heating of the oceans, melting of mountain glaciers, and unsustainable pumping of ground water. Said co-author Erik Ivins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, "The pace of ice loss from Greenland is extraordinary, with nearly a five-fold increase since the mid-1990s." As of 2011, Greenland's contribution to global sea level rise on its own had risen to 20 - 25%, according to an international research group led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, in an article published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters on 1 June 2012. If the current exponential ice loss trends continue for the next ten years, Greenland's contribution to sea level rise will double to 1.4 mm/yr by 2022, the researchers said. Many sea level rise researchers expect global sea level to rise by about 1 meter (3.3 feet) by 2100. During the 20th century, global sea level rise was about 0.18 meters (7 inches.)


Figure 3. Monthly smoothed (purple) and unsmoothed (blue) values of the total mass lost from the Greenland Ice Sheet (in Gigatons, Gt) from measurements by the GRACE satellites between March 2002-September 2012. An approximate equivalent global sea level rise figure is on the right axis. Note that the decline in ice mass lost from Greenland is not a straight line--it is exponential, meaning that more ice loss is lost each year than in the previous year. Image credit: 2012 Arctic Report Card.

Will Antarctica be more important than Greenland for sea level rise?
Although melting from Greenland is currently raising global sea level by about a factor of two more than Antarctica melting is, that situation may change later this century. A 2013 study by Dahl-Jensen et al. looked at a new ice core drilled from the bottom-most depths of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The core suggests that the ice in Greenland may have partially survived the warm Eemian period before the Ice Age, approximately 118,000 - 126,000 years ago, when Greenland temperatures were 5- 8°C warmer than present-day temperatures. Global sea level during the Eemian was 4 - 8 meters (13 - 26 ft) higher than the present sea level, and the scientists estimated that melting from Greenland was responsible for 2 meters (6.6 ft) of this sea level rise. This implies that Antarctica was responsible for 50 - 75% of global sea level rise during the Eemian, and thus we might expect Antarctica to take over as the dominant source of sea level rise later this century, when global temperatures may to rise to levels similar to those experienced during the Eemian.

Related posts
Greenland experiences melting over 97% of its area in mid-July (July 25, 2012)
Record warmth at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet (July 18, 2012)
Unprecedented May heat in Greenland; update on 2011 Greenland ice melt (May, 2012)
Greenland update for 2010: record melting and a massive calving event

Dr. Jason Box's blog on Greenland and the Dark Snow Project is at http://www.meltfactor.org.

The http://www.greenlandmelting.com/ website looks like a great resource for following this year's melt progression in Greenland.


Video 1. Glaciologist Dr. Jason Box and 350.org founder Bill McKibben plug the Darksnow project in this January 2013 video by Peter Sinclair. There's some impressive footage of the record Greenland snow melt of summer 2012 sweeping away a 20-ton tractor that was attempting to repair a bridge washed out by the raging Watson River on July 11, 2012 in Kangerlussauaq, Greenland. The driver escaped unharmed.

Support the Dark Snow Project
One of Dr. Box's collaborators, photographer James Balog, who created the amazing time-lapse Greenland glacier footage in the fantastic 2012 "Chasing Ice" movie, puts it like this: "Working in Greenland these past years has left me with a profound feeling of being in the middle of a decisive historic moment--the kind of moment, at least in geologic terms, that marks the grand tidal changes of history." On that note, I encourage you all to support the Dark Snow Project. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Dark Snow Project Expedition Plan 2013
Prepare and gather science equipment including a field spectrometer, snow and ice coring device, and snow metrics kit.

Travel to Iqualuit, on Baffin Island, Nunavut from home locales in California, Ohio, Michigan, Vermont and rendezvous with Dash-6 "Twin Otter" ski-equipped airplane and flight crew.

Organize cold weather survival kit.

Ferry team from Iqualuit to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

Fly to and land at sampling sites high on the inland ice sheet.

At each site collect snow samples from a snow pit and obtain snow cores to a minimum depth of the previous year's snow surface, and record snow properties.

Transport of team and snow samples to Greenland's capital Nuuk, where the team will rest after hustling at field sites.

Return to Iqualuit, then to respective home locales to start the data analysis and reporting phase of campaign.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Grothar: Post# 528


It is getting rounder by the hour. Looks like some bad weather for some.


By golly it sure is..
I haven't looked at anything forcast-wise yet but it sure looks like it's found a "happy place"..Lol



From Water Vapor it looks like it has a straw and is sucking moisture up from the Western GOM..
And west Texas for that matter..

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6839
531. etxwx
6 months after Sandy, thousands homeless in NY, NJ
By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press | April 27, 2013

Excerpt: Six months after Superstorm Sandy devastated the Jersey shore and New York City and pounded coastal areas of New England, the region is dealing with a slow and frustrating, yet often hopeful, recovery. Tens of thousands of people remain homeless. Housing, business, tourism and coastal protection all remain major issues with the summer vacation — and hurricane — seasons almost here again.

Complete article posted here.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:



moving nw away from azores

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some severe thunderstorms possible on Sunday for the New Orleans-Mobile-Pensacola area
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting pcola57:


I think I would have a wary eye one that if it were over water..
And by the way Gro..
I am feeling old today..LOl.. :)


It is getting rounder by the hour. Looks like some bad weather for some.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26460
Quoting RTSplayer:


I didn't say it wasn't bad weather. I'm just saying its nothing that's going to be classified tropical or hybrid.


I know... I never mentioned tropical or anything...
just said bad weather for the Azores.

____

Good afternoon everyone
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Hey folks,you have to read this paper by the CSU team named Causes of the unusually destructive 2004 North Atlantic season By how things are progressing among the factors,this 2013 may well turn out to be the same.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


the Azores are up for some rough weather.


I didn't say it wasn't bad weather. I'm just saying its nothing that's going to be classified tropical or hybrid.
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Quoting Grothar:Post# 522


I think I would have a wary eye one that if it were over water..
And by the way Gro..
I am feeling old today..LOl.. :)
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6839
Quoting RTSplayer:


Yeah, I was just looking at that. It actually has a large low level circulation with it too. Doubt it does anything significant.


the Azores are up for some rough weather.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Yeah, I was just looking at that. It actually has a large low level circulation with it too. Doubt it does anything significant.
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Why is the NHC satellite site using the wrong day number, not updating, the SST overlay? It's been stuck like that for over a month, I think.
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519. SLU
Quoting pottery:

Seeing that too.
Coming down like a waterfall at the moment.
Not a movement of breeze.


Very dangerous weather pattern
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Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
This article...

If you guys seriously think AGW is going to make the poles warm what, 4 to 6 times faster than the global average warms, and they are now claiming global average will be several degrees higher than present day by 2100, then why isn't anyone already evacuating all the coastal cities? Why keep moving people to the coast, since they already know the coasts are toasted?

Example:

Will Antarctica be more important than Greenland for sea level rise?
Although melting from Greenland is currently raising global sea level by about a factor of two more than Antarctica melting is, that situation may change later this century. A 2013 study by Dahl-Jensen et al. looked at a new ice core drilled from the bottom-most depths of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The core suggests that the ice in Greenland may have partially survived the warm Eemian period before the Ice Age, approximately 118,000 - 126,000 years ago, when Greenland temperatures were 5- 8°C warmer than present-day temperatures. Global sea level during the Eemian was 4 - 8 meters (13 - 26 ft) higher than the present sea level, and the scientists estimated that melting from Greenland was responsible for 2 meters (6.6 ft) of this sea level rise. This implies that Antarctica was responsible for 50 - 75% of global sea level rise during the Eemian, and thus we might expect Antarctica to take over as the dominant source of sea level rise later this century, when global temperatures may to rise to levels similar to those experienced during the Eemian.


If these statements are accurate, and the estimate of temperatures rising much faster in the arctic than on the global average, then by the time the global average goes up just by another 1C, the poles will be warmer by another 4C to 6C. This implies sea level rise of several meters by 2100.

So then why don't the global temperature change estimates and models predict the temperature consistent with the "one meter or so" sea level rise that the standard prediction has been?

Further, I read an article on Physorg which presented a study about the gravitational effects of ice caps, in particular Antarctica. It suggests that the mass of the ice causes a gravitational imbalance which actually pulls liquid water towards the ice cap. Following the findings and logic of that study, it suggests that as ice caps melt, the sea level around that ice cap actually decreases, and this accumulated water would then be distributed around the globe, further increasing sea level rise in other places. Presumably this would apply to the temperate and tropical regions, where most of the world's port cities and resort cities are placed.

Since I doubt the present sea level rise models are taking that effect into consideration, correct me if I'm wrong, then it implies the real rise in the temperate and tropic regions would be much more than the model's predicted "average".

Why doesn't anyone discuss all of these findings?


Building levees around the entire coast of a continent is impossible, and they'd eventually fail anyway, if all of these findings are considered, and assuming even the conservative sea level rise estimates were verified.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
forecast 24 hrs from now


wave right over western trinny

So that's what's going on.
A little early for this kind of stuff and whatnot.

I think I'll go to bed.......
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forecast 24 hrs from now


wave right over western trinny
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Quoting SLU:


yes.. you can see some heavy build ups all around Trinidad now and coming in from the south .

Seeing that too.
Coming down like a waterfall at the moment.
Not a movement of breeze.
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You can turn your fans to the west now, Keeper !
Orca needs some.
I'm a little saturated at the moment.......
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511. SLU
Quoting pottery:

Possible.

Coming down heavy in central Trinidad right now.
An inch in the last 40 mins or so.....


yes.. you can see some heavy build ups all around Trinidad now and coming in from the south .
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Quoting pottery:

Possible.

Coming down heavy in central Trinidad right now.
An inch in the last 40 mins or so.....


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Quoting washingtonian115:
I hope it's not a sign of things to come down the road..

Me too !
In the meantime, I'm building a road in the mountains.
It has been a Frustrating week.......
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Quoting pottery:

Possible.

Coming down heavy in central Trinidad right now.
An inch in the last 40 mins or so.....
I hope it's not a sign of things to come down the road..
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Quoting SLU:


The 1st wave could very well be along that sharp perturbation at 40w.

The signature shows up faintly on the satellite imagery.


Possible.

Coming down heavy in central Trinidad right now.
An inch in the last 40 mins or so.....
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
503. SLU
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Here is the African Hovmoller where you can track the African Waves. Let's see when the first one appears.


The 1st wave could very well be along that sharp perturbation at 40w.

The signature shows up faintly on the satellite imagery.

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Quoting Grothar:


Old age.


Just great.
Can't wait for blog incontinence then.
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Here is the African Hovmoller where you can track the African Waves. Let's see when the first one appears.
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Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
It depends on if a storm forms off the east coast of Fl or not... If a strong STS or TS was positioned east and northeast of us, it could easily pull a nice cold front through here.


Defiantly agree. Euro dropped it on the 00z, so we'll see. GFS decided to pick it up on the 06z.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24164
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Quoting LargoFl:
another local mets forecast..70's are coming.......


I still highly doubt it, especially a week out. More often than not, if something like that this late in the year is being shown a week out, it almost always reverses back into the low 80s at least. I've never seen 50s in May in Florida for a while at least.
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
what do you think of this post? i've never run across this person before, and the forecast seems off the wall.
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another local mets forecast..70's are coming.......
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
492. VR46L
Worlds Weather in one image

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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 39116
Quoting CybrTeddy:
I don't agree with BN9's forecast, no way it will get that cold in May unless it pours rain all day.


The NWS is thinking 83-84 for a high, far more reasonable.
It depends on if a storm forms off the east coast of Fl or not... If a strong STS or TS was positioned east and northeast of us, it could easily pull a nice cold front through here.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
06z GFS has a subtropical storm off the coast of the US, while the 00z dropped that solution. Funny how these work sometime.
And it's in the SAME area Andrea of 2007 was in.How original..lol.
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Video with metereological explanations on BBC
Storm-struck Oman suffers flooding

Satellite view of the region right now
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No effect here this morning, just parts of Orange and San Diego county.
60.5 here.

Riverside, California (Airport)
Updated: 7:53 AM PDT on April 27, 2013
Clear
60 F
Clear
Humidity: 67%
Dew Point: 49 F
Wind: 4 mph from the NE
Pressure: 30.10 in (Rising)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 2 out of 16
Pollen: 6.20 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds:
Clear -
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 817 ft

edit for spelling
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06z GFS has a subtropical storm off the coast of the US, while the 00z dropped that solution. Funny how these work sometime.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24164
Quoting Ameister12:
You know, I would love to see 100% complete coverage from ABC 33/40 of the outbreak including coverage of the morning storms.


YouTube user John Brown has a compilation of all ABC 33/40's coverage of that day starting at 2PM. He also has their coverage of the previous April 15 outbreak if you're so inclined.
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:
S FL may get cold!!:)
Friday Night
Clear. Low of 55F. Breezy and i have prom that night!!:)


Given where the MJO is headed I'm not surprised.
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Quoting Grothar:


wow mannn.... I've seen that at a Dead Concert...
Quoting AussieStorm:


Mate, saw this on Twitter and thought of you.

USGS @USGS
Land development near #GSChesapeake Bay toxic to yellow perch. Fishery threatened. http://ow.ly/kqV6D Reproductive health of yellow perch Perca flavescens in selected tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay


Thanks Aussie. The Southern Chesapeake Riverkeeper is a friend.
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You know, I would love to see 100% complete coverage from ABC 33/40 of the outbreak including coverage of the morning storms.
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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.