Greenland experienced a record amount of melting in 2010.
New records were set during the year for surface melting, runoff of water, the number of days when bare ice was exposed due to melting snow, and the decrease in the total mass of Greenland’s ice sheets, according to a paper published Friday in Environment Research Letters.
NOAA is also out with its annual Arctic report card for 2010, which among other things summarizes what was observed in Greenland this past year:
Greenland climate in 2010 is marked by record-setting high air temperatures, ice loss by melting, and marine-terminating glacier area loss. Summer seasonal average (June-August) air temperatures around Greenland were 0.6 to 2.4°C above the 1971-2000 baseline and were highest in the west. A combination of a warm and dry 2009-2010 winter and the very warm summer resulted in the highest melt rate since at least 1958 and an area and duration of ice sheet melting that was above any previous year on record since at least 1978. The largest recorded glacier area loss observed in Greenland occurred this summer at Petermann Glacier, where 290 km2 of ice broke away. The rate of area loss in marine-terminating glaciers this year (419 km2) was 3.4 times that of the previous 8 years, when regular observations are available. There is now clear evidence that the ice area loss rate of the past decade (averaging 120 km2/year) is greater than loss rates pre-2000.
Juliete Elperin of the Washington Post has a good article about the new findings, with quotes from Marco Tedesco, the ERL paper’s lead author and the director of the Cryosphere Processes Laboratory at the City College of New York.
The events in Greenland are illustrated very clearly in the following graphics. The first one is a modified version of a graphic published in the ERL paper. (I removed one of the graphs and inserted the explanatory text.) The others are from the Arctic Report Card.
Duration of melting of standardized melting index: