Apr 12, 2016

Greenland’s Melt Season Started Nearly Two Months Early

Greenland
by
Brian Kahn
,
Climate Central
Maps show the melt area centered around southwest Greenland. The graph shows the current melt season in blue and the average in black. Image: Polar Portal
Maps show the melt area centered around southwest Greenland. The graph shows the current melt season in blue and the average in black. Image: Polar Portal

To say the 2016 Greenland melt season is off to the races is an understatement.

Warm, wet conditions rapidly kicked off the melt season this weekend, more than a month-and-a-half ahead of schedule. It has easily set a record for earliest melt season onset, and marks the first time it’s begun in April.

Little to no melt through winter is the norm as sub-zero temperatures keep Greenland’s massive ice sheet, well, on ice. Warm weather usually kicks off the melt season in late May or early June. 

Little to no melt through winter is the norm as sub-zero temperatures keep Greenland’s massive ice sheet, well, on ice. Warm weather usually kicks off the melt season in late May or early June...

According to Polar Portal, which monitors all things ice-related in the Arctic, melt season kicks off when 10 percent of the ice sheet experiences surface melt. The previous record for earliest start was May 5, 2010.

This April kickoff is so bizarrely early, scientists who study the ice sheet checked their analysis to make sure something wasn’t amiss before making the announcement...

Climate change has been cutting into Greenland’s icy reserves, with warm air and water temperatures leading to the loss of millions of tons of ice each year. Dust and soot from forest fires in Canada and Siberia have also expedited the ice sheet’s melt