Arctic heat waves cause exceptional Greenland melt, according to new study

CBC News reports:

A new study shows that blasts of warm air from southern latitudes have been responsible for rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet in recent years, a new phenomenon which future climate models will have to take into account. Image by Christine Zenino on Wikimedia Commons.

A new study shows that blasts of warm air from southern latitudes have been responsible for rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet in recent years, a new phenomenon which future climate models will have to take into account.
Image by Christine Zenino on Wikimedia Commons.

“A new study by researchers from Denmark and Canada’s York University says Arctic heat waves cause exceptional melts of the Greenland ice sheet, calling into question commonly-used climate models that may underestimate the impact of warm weather episodes.

The study published in Geophysical Research Letters looked at causes of ice melt during two exceptional melt episodes in 2012 from July 8-11 and July 27-28. These six days accounted for 14 per cent of the annual melt in 2012 and the highest daily melt rates ever observed in the Greenland ice sheet to date.

“That was about 28 cm per day of ice melting at the southern tip of the Greenland ice sheet,” said William Colgan, co-author of the study from York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering.

“This is a really remarkable observation of just how fast the Greenland ice sheet is melting.”

Using new technology, the researchers were able to see the daily rate of ice melt, even when the melt rate was very large.

They say it wasn’t energy from radiation such as solar radiation that was causing the most ice melt, as was previously assumed. It was non-radiant fluxes of warm air being pushed up against Greenland or into Baffin Bay from lower latitudes.”

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