Unprecedented melting of the Svalbard ice cap

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Gepubliceerd op 23 augustus 2022

The Svalbard archipelago is suffering from an unprecedented episode of ice cap melting caused by the high temperatures that persist since the early summer in this area of the Arctic Circle.

According to the Laboratory of Climatology and Topoclimatology of the Liege University, between June and August 2022, the temperature anomaly at Svalbard was between 2 and 3°C and the ice mass balance, or Surface Mass Balance (SMB), was strongly negative.  The cumulative SMB value during this summer reached about 400mm, an unprecedented and anomalous value, about five times higher than the reference values.

These images, acquired by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites, allow to compare the status of the ice cap of the Edgeøya Island, in the south of the archipelago, on 28 August 2021 (image on the left) and 20 August 2022 (image on the right). The image allows to observe that in 2022 the snow/ice cover completely disappeared, while the oldest layers of the ice cap were exposed to sunlight and were subject to a rapid melting phenomenon.

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