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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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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@WeatherAmazed Scott Lawson
@spann 4-27-11 Cullman to Arab tornado as it is near Hulaco, AL just minutes before it struck Ruth and took 5 lives.

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
480. etxwx
I have a weather question for those of you who delved deep into NWS records. Is it possible to determine if major hail events are happening more frequently or, given the ubiquitousness of cell phone cameras, just being reported/documented more frequently?
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So far I have dubbed 2013 the year of the hail and now perhaps flooding depending on how the pattern sets up.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
has anyone ever heard of the idea of using HRRR or other small scale model max updraft helicity to find potential tornado tracks 1-3hrs in advance?

Yes. Typically those storm-resolving models can do a decent job simulating the type of storms to expect and their evolution, but not very often do they get the locations right. But if storms in a particular area are simulated with high updraft helicity that would certainly be something I would keep in mind for getting a general idea of where tornadic storms would be most favorable.
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James Spann looks back on April 27, 2011
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Quoting Ameister12:
Today marks the 2 year anniversary of the historic 2011 Super Outbreak. On that day over 200 tornadoes (including 16 EF3's, 11 EF4's, and 4 EF5's) caused massive destruction across Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. 316 people lost their lives during the outbreak.


James Spann is sharing a lot of info from that outbreak on his FB and Twitter feeds.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Today marks the 2 year anniversary of the historic 2011 Super Outbreak. On that day over 200 tornadoes (including 16 EF3's, 11 EF4's, and 4 EF5's) caused massive destruction across Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. 316 people lost their lives during the outbreak.
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The Euro has dropped the idea of a sub-tropical storm and so has the blog.lolololol.
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472. DDR
Quoting pottery:

Yikes !
Another downpour in POS would be Pandemonium today.
Apparently people were stuck in traffic for 3 hrs yesterday all over town.

What an Absurd place this is..

Crazy indeed,it would seem that there is no 'normal' weather pattern anywhere again.
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Quoting Grothar:


Old age.

Hang in there Gro.
We understand.
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Quoting DDR:

Yup this is one persistent trough,just about 2 inches in my rain gauge in just over an hour,most fell in about 20 minutes in a downpour.

Yikes !
Another downpour in POS would be Pandemonium today.
Apparently people were stuck in traffic for 3 hrs yesterday all over town.

What an Absurd place this is..
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469. DDR
Quoting pottery:

Look at the WV loops and the Rainbow loops.
This weather has been coming up from the SW for the past week or so.
Looks like we may get a little break later today, although the Met. Office does not think so. Some heavy showers possible.

Brace for more of the same, I think.....

Yup this is one persistent trough,just about 2 inches in my rain gauge in just over an hour,most fell in about 20 minutes in a downpour.
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Quoting pcola57:
What Happened??
Blog went blank for a sec and couldn't see..
Maintenance ??


Old age.
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Quoting DDR:
Pottery it looks to me like a flood event on the way,landslips and such.

Look at the WV loops and the Rainbow loops.
This weather has been coming up from the SW for the past week or so.
Looks like we may get a little break later today, although the Met. Office does not think so. Some heavy showers possible.

Brace for more of the same, I think.....
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Quoting AussieStorm:

I forgot to convert the km/h to mph in that piece.

Comment #440
Just went and converted the wind speeds from km/h to mph and wave heights from metres to Feet.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Quoting Grothar:


A very good Image if I may so Gro..
Good Morning..
Polished off a few models I see..
Looking good.. :)

BBL
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
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What Happened??
Blog went blank for a sec and couldn't see..
Maintenance ??
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
To enbiggin' Click HERE

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Memphis, TN (KNQA) - Base Reflectivity (0.5)



Huntsville/Hytop, AL (KHTX) - Base Reflectivity (0.5)



Paducah, KY (KPAH) - Base Reflectivity (0.5)

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460. DDR
The barbados radar isn't penetrating as far south at the moment so its hard to tell how much more rain is coming.
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Looks to be a Tennessee Valley rain day..









Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
458. DDR
Pottery it looks to me like a flood event on the way,landslips and such.
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Quoting DDR:

Hey pottery,thanks..but i can't i needs to work lol.

Well, me too, at some stage.....

Stay dry !
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
Good Morning All..
69 degrees with 87%rh and winds at 8 from ENE..
High dew point at 65..
Chances of rain for the next 7days..
Interesting that models are jumping around so much concerning the Low that is supposed to form..

Anyway a moist but bright beach day so far..

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
TNC033-075-113-167-271600-
/O.NEW.KMEG.FF.W.0020.130427T1253Z-130427T1600Z/
/00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEMPHIS TN
753 AM CDT SAT APR 27 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MEMPHIS HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN CROCKETT COUNTY IN NORTHWEST TENNESSEE...
SOUTHERN HAYWOOD COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST TENNESSEE...
WESTERN MADISON COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST TENNESSEE...
EASTERN TIPTON COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST TENNESSEE...

* UNTIL 1100 AM CDT

* AT 753 AM CDT... 1 TO 3 INCHES OF RAINFALL HAS OCCURRED OVER THE
PAST 3 HOURS. SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL PRODUCE AN ADDITIONAL
1 TO 3 INCHES OF RAIN OVER THE NEXT 2 HOURS. SOME ROADS IN THE CITY
OF JACKSON ARE IMPASSABLE TO DUE FLOODING.

* LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO BROWNSVILLE
AND JACKSON.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
Quoting indianrivguy:
440. AussieStorm 8:47 AM EDT on April 27, 2013

Dang, 34 feet waves.. from the trough, that would be like looking up at a six story wave about to crash upon you..

I forgot to convert the km/h to mph in that piece.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF NORTH AND CENTRAL GEORGIA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT...

A SHORTWAVE MOVING ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST THIS WEEKEND WILL ALLOW
FOR SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS TODAY AND TONIGHT. WITH
MARGINAL INSTABILITY...THE MAIN THREAT FROM ANY DEVELOPMENT WILL
BE BRIEF PERIODS OF HEAVY RAINFALL AND ISOLATED LIGHTNING.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SUNDAY THROUGH FRIDAY...

THE CHANCE FOR SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL CONTINUE THROUGH
MONDAY FROM THE AFOREMENTIONED SHORTWAVE. STORM TOTAL RAINFALL
AMOUNTS OF 1.5 TO 2.5 INCHES IS POSSIBLE ACROSS NORTH GEORGIA WITH
0.5 TO 1.5 INCHES ACROSS CENTRAL GEORGIA. THE LOWER AMOUNTS SHOULD
EXTEND SOUTHWARD. PLEASE CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE FORECAST FOR
FUTURE UPDATES AS ADJUSTMENTS MAY BE MADE.

WHILE WEAK UPPER RIDGING WILL BUILD IN FOR TUESDAY AND THE SHORTWAVE
WILL NO LONGER BE AN INFLUENCING FACTOR...LINGERING MOISTURE AND
INSTABILITY WILL ALLOW FOR AT LEAST A SLIGHT CHANCE OF
THUNDERSTORMS THROUGH THE REST OF THE WEEK.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
451. DDR
Quoting pottery:

Overcast here, but no rain.....
Have a Good One, DDR.

Hey pottery,thanks..but i can't i needs to work and its not letting up.
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THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR THE COUNTIES SERVED BY THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN BIRMINGHAM.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

THERE IS A MARGINAL THREAT FOR SEVERE STORMS ACROSS THE
NORTHWEST...MAINLY BETWEEN 5 PM AND 2 AM...AS A FRONTAL SYSTEM
APPROACHES FROM THE WEST. THE MAIN AREA OF CONCERN WILL BE ALONG
AND NORTH OF A LINE FROM ALICEVILLE TO JASPER. THE MAIN THREATS
WILL BE DAMAGING STRAIGHT LINE WINDS AND LARGE HAIL. THERE ARE
MANY UNCERTAINTIES REGARDING THE STRENGTH AND EVOLUTION OF THE
SYSTEM...THEREFORE CONFIDENCE REMAINS LOW AT THIS TIME.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
wtsp got it in the 70's also..............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
Quoting DDR:
Good morning.
Once again its raining by the buckets in parts of Trinidad.

Overcast here, but no rain.....
Have a Good One, DDR.
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LOL GFS

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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
water temps almost there............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
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.
well i guess they say this is a real strong cold front and if it stays solid overcast and windy, guess it could go back into the 70's for awhile, till the sun breaks thru again..we;ll see what happens
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
Quoting AussieStorm:
Evening all to those on the other side of the big pond
good evening aussie!
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
442. DDR
Good morning.
Once again its raining by the buckets in parts of Trinidad.
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440. AussieStorm 8:47 AM EDT on April 27, 2013

Dang, 34 feet waves.. from the trough, that would be like looking up at a six story wave about to crash upon you..
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Treacherous waves and Storm force winds hammer Tasmania

Storm force winds and huge seas are battering Tasmania, although the worst is yet to come.

At 7:20am this morning the Cape Sorell waverider buoy registered a maximum wave height of 10.5 metres(34.45ft). All recordings so far today have been above 6.9 metres(22.64ft) and maximum wave heights have remained above 5.5m(18.04ft) since Thursday morning.

Wind gusts of 131 km/h(81.4mph) at Maatsuyker Island, 128 km/h(79.5mph) at Scotts Peak and 109 km/h(67.7mph) on Mt Read have already been recorded today.

Winds averaging around 70 km/h(43.5mph) with peak gusts of up to 130 km/h(80.7mph) are forecast for parts of the Western and South East districts this evening. Gusts may be even stronger at higher elevations.

An intense westerly flow and strong cold front are the cause of these storm force winds and giant waves.

Northwesterly winds will be strongest this afternoon as the front approaches. The cold front will cross Tasmania this evening causing showers to spread across the state.

Seas are likely to be even higher tomorrow behind the front and remain large for western and southern parts of TAS until the end of this week. Winds are likely to ease from Sunday night as the front moves away from the region.

Weatherzone 2013
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Evening all to those on the other side of the big pond
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
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.
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Good morning everyone!

Good evening Aussie!

Chasing Ice was on TV last night.. awesome movie, I would love to see it in a theater. I watched it twice, recording it the second time. I HIGHLY recommend it. It doesn't matter whether you believe in AGW, the photography is spectacular beyond words. We have never "seen" some of these dramatic changes as they happened.. totally awesome.
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Quoting VR46L:




Good Morning Folks!!

Aussie


Thanks
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
has anyone ever heard of the idea of using HRRR or other small scale model max updraft helicity to find potential tornado tracks 1-3hrs in advance?
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Nam has that gulf blob coming up from mexico,looks like a good rainmaker..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852
Quoting CybrTeddy:
And just like that, the ECMWF completely drops the STS.
yes i think thats why the NWS is holding off on predictions til the models settle down some
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36852

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

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