Rain and Warmth Trigger More Melting in Greenland

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#Snow & Ice , #Climate change

Published on 20 August 2021

The Greenland Ice Sheet underwent two bouts of intense melting in July 2021, and forecasts called for even more to follow. They were right. Summer heat spurred another major melt event on August 14–15, 2021, but this time, the melting was exacerbated by rainfall.

Every year from around May to early September, melting takes place across the vast sheet of ice that covers Greenland. Besides contributing directly to sea level rise, meltwater can flow to the base of the ice sheet via crevasses and moulins, accelerating the flow of ice toward the ocean.

Within a melting season there can be the occasional “melt event”—brief periods with more melting and runoff than during ‘typical’ summer days. The seventh-largest melt event on record (by area) occurred on July 28, when melting covered about 881,000 square kilometers (340,000 square miles) of the ice sheet, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Melting on August 14—the peak of the unusual late-summer event—was slightly smaller, covering about 872,000 square kilometers.

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