Greenland Melting in January, February and March

Greenland Melt March

(Early March Melt in Greenland. Image Credit: NSIDC.)

Normally melt doesn’t begin in Greenland until May. But, this year, Greenland saw melt in the midst of winter.

According to reports from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, sections of the southeast coast of Greenland melted throughout January, February and March of 2013. This level of melt is far above average and almost never appears so early.

Even more disturbing is the fact that some areas of Greenland have melted for more than 50 days so far this year (out of 70 total). So, in some locations, Greenland has seen melt for almost all days of 2013. And it isn’t even spring.


The above image provided by NSIDC shows the number of melt days for Greenland so far this year. Note the southeast coast where melt has already occurred between 10 to 50+ days out of 70 so far this year.

Winter is a time when cold temperatures should keep the Greenland glacier from melt and loss of mass. When the great ice sheets should rebuild before summer. However, this is not happening. Instead, melt which would normally appear in May continues in some regions throughout winter. What this would seem to indicate is that the heat absorbed by the glaciers during summer and the warm surrounding oceans carry enough energy to continue melting the ice sheets throughout the long dark of the Greenland winter.

Taking into account the very thin and cracking Arctic sea ice, Greenland melt throughout winter is but one more unprecedented set of events for the very odd Arctic winter of 2013. And, given the new trends, one has to wonder if year-round melting of Greenland will become a regular occurrence.

Greenland Melt JanFebMar

The above image shows melt for 2013 (red) in comparison with normal melt (blue). Note the various spikes in melt days beginning in January, ramping up in February to near end-May values which fall off and then appear again in March.

It is also worth noting that last year showed Greenland melting over nearly 100% of its surface at the height of summer. With a normal year showing a 25-30% surface melt for Greenland, it appears that a period of historic and unprecedented melt is rapidly taking hold.


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