Researchers found that Greenland's annual melting season lasted 50 days longer than average last year when compared to the years between 1979 and 2009. Their work was published in the latest issue of Environmental Research Letters.
Higher than normal surface temperatures occurring not just in the summer, but also in the spring and late winter, caused the melting season to kick off early and take longer to end. Because of the extension of melting days, the country experienced record surface ice melt, record water runoff from the ice sheet and a record number of days of bare ice without snow.
The researchers analyzed satellite data including surface temperatures, satellite estimates of melting, as well as ground observations from weather stations on the ice sheet. They're attempting to use this information to improve computer models that can predict how the ice will behave under future warming conditions and estimate sea level rise.
One of the most important things the researchers observed from the study was that the relationship between temperature and melt was not linear -- it can be exponential. As snow melts, it reveals older less reflective snow and eventually even less reflective bare ice, both of which absorb more heat and accelerate melting and ultimately extend the melt season.
via NY Times
Image via Changlc
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