The Greenland Summer Melt Season Just Started in April

12 Percent. That’s how much of Greenland’s surface experienced melt yesterday according to a report from DMI’s Polar Portal  as an unprecedented flow of warm, wet air slammed into its great ice sheets. 10 Percent. That’s how much of Greenland’s ice sheet surface is required to melt in order to mark an official start to the Summer melt season. Late May or early June. That’s when Greenland melt season typically begins.

In other words, a Greenland melt season that usually starts as May rolls into June and has never initiated before May 5th just began on April 11th of 2016. That’s 24 days ahead of the previous record set only six years ago and more than a month and a half ahead of the typical melt start. In other words — way too early. But in a rapidly heating world where monthly temperatures have now exceeded a range of 1.5 C above 1880s levels, we could well expect Greenland melts to begin earlier, end later, and encompass more and more of the ice sheet surface at peak melt during July.

 

Record Early Start to Greenland Melt Season

(Record early start to Greenland’s ‘Summer’ melt season occurred on April 11, 2016 according to reports from DMI’s Polar Portal.)

Yesterday’s new record early melt start occurred as extraordinarily warm temperatures in the range of 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit above average swept over southern, central and western Greenland. This flood of extremely warm temperatures for Greenland was accompanied by heavy rains and strong winds — gusting to gale or even hurricane force in some locations. In some areas, rain fell over the ice sheet itself. As recently as midday Tuesday, Dr. Jason Box — a prominent Greenland researcher — tweeted a report from a friend in Nuuk that the city was “close to drowning in water caused by rain and snow melt.”

Today, temperatures for the whole of Greenland — a 1.7 million square kilometer island containing enough ice to raise sea levels by more than 20 feet should it all melt — were measuring as high as 10.17 C above average (more than 18 F above average) with readings over much of northern and central Greenland spiking over 20 C (36 F) above normal (1980-2010) ranges. So it’s likely that Monday’s record early 12 percent surface melt will extend and possibly expand on through today (April 12).

Greenland 10 C Above Average Temperatures

(Extreme warmth over much of Greenland on April 12th is continuing a new record early start to melt season for this up to two mile high pile of ice. Image source: Karsten’s Climate Maps. Data Source: NOAA/NCEP/GFS.)

Over the coming week, temperatures across Greenland are expected to steadily fall back toward more normal ranges. However, it’s worth noting that much of the heat from this year’s record early melt spike will be baked into the ice — adding a kind of internal heat pressure as Spring gradually progresses into Summer.

During July of 2012, an unprecedented 95 percent of Greenland’s surface experienced melt. For 2016, unprecedented Arctic warming during Winter appears to have set the stage for a serious challenge to both 2012 Greenland and 2012 Arctic sea ice melt records. And with seasonal sea ice at or near new record lows even as Greenland is off to an amazingly early melt start, it appears that 2016 is now in a race to set a number of new benchmarks as Arctic ice continues its ominous and disruptive longer-term decline.

Links:

Warm, Southerly Winds Gust to Hurricane Force in Staggering Early Season Greenland Heatwave

Unusually Early Greenland Melt

Greenland Melt Season Started Nearly Two Months Early

Karsten’s Climate Maps

Dr Jason Box’s Twitter Feed

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat Tip to Sidd

Hat Tip to TodaysGuestIs

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56 Comments

  1. PlazaRed

     /  April 12, 2016

    Thank you so much Robert for keeping us on the cutting edge of information about the events above and on the surface of Greenland.
    To me its interesting what you say about temps falling back over the next week or so towards a “normal for the time of year” but we must also remember that any ice that’s melted will be long gone by then as liquid water slipping into the Atlantic.

    I found a chart on the WU site which shows Greenland as looking like a panic button in the northern hemisphere.

    Reply
    • The Atlantic High has tended to back up toward the north and east. The counter-clockwise circulation around that high has tended to pull these huge meridional flows of heat and moisture on up into Greenland. Add in basal melt due to ocean warming and it appears that pretty much all of the atmosphere-ocean system is conspiring to more rapidly melt Greenland. Panic button indeed.

      Reply
  2. Loni

     /  April 12, 2016

    I hope you have a comfortable chair to work from, Robert.

    I’ve read where these melting events can put a ‘cap’ on the surface, thus in later thaws, instead of the melt water being able to percolate down through the snow and ice, the melt water will hit one of these caps, and run horizontally along its’ face, with A typical results.

    I hope Mr. Box and associates faired alright, yesterday.

    Reply
  3. This article is over 3 years old but worth revisiting (imo) in the context of the latest from Robert on Greenland:

    Why Greenland’s Melting Could Be the Biggest Climate Disaster of All

    Glaciologist Jason Box is racing to figure out just how rapidly we’re pushing the 7 meters of sea rise level locked up in the Greenland ice sheet onto our shores.
    —By Chris Mooney
    Jan. 24, 2013

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/greenland-ice-melting-climate-change

    Reply
  4. My daughter is visiting colleges, trying to make a decision as to where to spend the next 4 + years. Is it crazy of me to encourage her to stay in the midwest and avoid the east coast? Anyone? I know this is not the purpose of this blog (giving advice) but you guys get it! Normal weather patterns are gone. AMOC will be affected by this—- if not shut down?
    How extreme will weather be over the next few years on the east coast (and elsewhere) in light of this information?

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160122122629.htm

    Reply
    • My opinion would be against buying ocean front property along the US East Coast. Going to college there should be OK. Although it may be worth it to keep a weather eye out and be ready to respond to any warnings that do pop up.

      Reply
    • climatehawk1

       /  April 12, 2016

      My very amateur opinion is that the biggest threat here (well above sea level, so that would be something to check on) is another 1938 Hurricane. We don’t yet seem to be facing anything like the flooding and droughts that are hitting the Southeast and West.

      Reply
      • Or another Sandy on a slightly different path. There’s a zone close to the coast that sees higher risks. If you’re some miles inland and 20 feet or more above sea level then your risks go down for large storms of that kind. But, yeah, the Eastern US should at least continue to get a decent amount of rain. And drought is a big regional destabilizer to keep in mind.

        Reply
        • True. My impression is that the 1938 Hurricane was more intense at landfall.

        • Sandy pushed more water over a larger area. Higher storm surges overall at 14.5 feet. Naragansett Bay saw about 13.5 feet of storm surge during the 1938 beast. But the Sandy surge affected a much larger swath with 10 foot + water rises.

        • Thanks, good info. That is why I specified being well above sea level (I’m at about 600 feet) as an ingredient. If the college were near sea level that would definitely change the picture.

        • Good advice. I’m about 350 feet above sea level here and well away from the coast. My parents, on the other hand, are at 10 feet above sea level and about two miles from the ocean in VA Beach. My sis in Chesapeake is probably worse off (that place is low lying). My grandmother and grandfather (one still living on my mom’s side one on my dad’s) live at the oceanfront about a block and a half away from the beach.

          I worry about them sometimes. And you can bet I’ll be watching Greenland like a hawk. I honestly don’t think we have a very good idea about how glacial destabilization could progress in the current climate state.

      • ozajh

         /  April 13, 2016

        David Attenborough points out in the first episode of his series on the Great Barrier Reef that humans observed the local coastline retreating “hundreds of metres a year” (about 10,000 years ago) due to the topography. The local indigenous people have a ceremonial dance about it, which appears at the core to be scientifically accurate.

        Given his attitude in other series, I strongly suspect there will be an episode in this one highlighting the dangers to the Reef (coral bleaching, etc.) stemming from AGW.

        Reply
    • Griffin

       /  April 13, 2016

      Hi Caroline. Wherever she decides to go, the best advice is to send her off with a healthy respect for weather and good ways to receive quality weather alerts. As far as weather threats go, flooding reigns supreme. Make sure that she is aware of potential flooding and to always “turn around, don’t drown”. The big events like Sandy are difficult to predict, but flooding rains are a threat to be reckoned with no matter where the college is. Just make sure that she has a good app that will give weather alerts (Weather Underground is good) and that she will heed the warnings!
      Anyway, that’s just my two cents. Cheers!

      Reply
      • mmiller221e@gmail.com

         /  April 13, 2016

        Also she should have a battery powered weather radio ( everyone should have one) with at least AM/FM. But I would be careful with it,as a person might accidently turn it on and hear Rush Limbaugh or some other Reich Wing gasbag.

        Reply
        • Good suggestion and good point. Although a dedicated weather radio might be nice. I treasured mine as a kid and a surfer. Great for tracking hurricanes and tropical storms.

    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  April 13, 2016

      As someone who grew up along the hurricane-prone gulf coast, I’ve always been spooked by the Midwest’s *tornadoes*, which give you very little warning.

      Reply
  5. Syd Bridges

     /  April 13, 2016

    Thank you for this prompt update, Robert. Just this morning I looked at NSIDC.ORG to check for 2016 Greenland melt, but I don’t think they are covering it yet. Now you have confirmed my suspicions that the mild winter followed by this latest heat has already initiated ice sheet melt.

    While our leaders are either sleepwalking into disaster, or lying through their teeth, the climate is deteriorating at an exponential rate. I wonder how long before we are seeing multiple daily weather crises. Greenland melt, record low Arctic ice, softball sized hail in Texas, a potentially catastrophic drought in India, coastal flooding in the UK, and the prospect of a violent winter storm here in the Rockies-and that’s only a partial litany of this week’s woes. And then there are other chronic droughts in Asia, Africa, andSouth America.

    Such an early Greenland melt can only further exacerbate the problems in the North Atlantic with the Greenland Cold Pool and the blocked Gulf Stream. It could be another cold, wet summer in the UK, punctuated by violent storms, but with plenty of hot air from the politicians and the Tory press.

    Reply
    • Good points. That widespread outbreak of large hail storms in Texas was pretty uncanny. I’m surprised Bob hasn’t popped in to say something on it.

      It’s April and you guys are still getting hammered. I’d think you’d at least see some respite later this spring and into summer. I don’t think things are quite so far along that the UK would have an uninterrupted battering just yet.

      Reply
  6. June

     /  April 13, 2016

    This new ocean wave energy technology sounds exciting…I hope it keeps developing. If only we could take the millions in govt subsidies of fossil fuels and invest in projects such as these, our transition to renewables could be accelerated.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-12/this-device-could-provide-a-third-of-america-s-power

    “The Triton is designed to harvest wave energy without using moving parts that can break down in the brutal ocean.”

    “A new approach, developed by a company called Oscilla Power, applies all that kinetic energy to a solid piece of metal instead of using it to turn the blades of an impeller. That creates an alternating magnetic polarity in the metal that can be converted into electrical current.”

    Reply
  7. Fred Teal Jr

     /  April 13, 2016

    Robert: Thanks so much for all that you do.  You are an invaluable source of information.

    Reply
  8. Abel Adamski

     /  April 13, 2016

    One that won’t appear in the msm
    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/04/12/405089.htm

    RIMS 2016: Sea Level Rise Will Be Worse and Come Sooner
    By Don Jergler | April 12, 2016
    Margaret Davidson, NOAA’s senior advisor for coastal inundation and resilience science and services, and Michael Angelina, executive director of the Academy of Risk Management and Insurance, offered their take on climate change data in a conference session titled “Environmental Intelligence: Quantifying the Risks of Climate Change.”

    RIMS16_conference logoDavidson said recent data that has been collected but has yet to be made official indicates sea levels could rise by roughly 3 meters by 2050-2060, far higher and quicker than current projections. Until now most projections have warned of seal level rise of up to 4 feet by 2100.

    These new findings will likely be released in the latest sets of reports on climate change due out in the next few years.

    “The latest field data out of West Antarctic is kind of an OMG thing,” she said.

    Davidson’s purpose was to talk about how NOAA is sharing information with the insurance community and the public, and to explain how data on climate change is being collected.

    She explained that reports like those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment, which come out roughly every five years, are going on old data.

    By the time the scientists compiling those reports get the data it’s roughly two years old, because it took those gathering the data that long to collect it. It takes authors of the reports a few years to compile them.

    “By the time we get out the report, it’s actually synthesizing data from about a decade ago,” she said.

    Reply
  9. A minor correction: though the report Jason Box tweeted *is* from someone in Nuuk, that town is nearly 600 km south of Jakobshavn Glacier and nearly 100 km west of the edge of the ice sheet. The town is on a sheltered coastal peninsula surrounded by a pair of fjords. I don’t think any part of it is much more than about 500 m from the sea, so I’m surprised the rain and melting snow isn’t draining better.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the fact check, Magma. The fix is in.🙂 RE the comment below — I have similar concerns and feelings. 2012 was my first year writing this blog and pretty much everything that year seemed odd and strange. This year has a similar tone. And this far too soon melt spike from weird early Greenland warmth gives me the chills.

      Reply
  10. I thought the >97% surface melt in July 10-11 2012 was stunning, and this is on a par with that. I wonder what the rest of the spring and summer holds for Greenland and Arctic sea ice… nothing good, I fear.

    Reply
  11. Thanks to all who responded to my question about weather on the east coast (my daughter sends her thanks as well—we read the comments together).

    Robert, you have such an incredible web site on so many levels—–extremely intelligent posts with vital information, followed by informative, respectful and kind comments.

    In these dark times, kindness and respect are so important. Many places you find just the opposite—-rude comments, deniers, people arguing over ridiculous things—-that combined with bad news regarding our biosphere can be very disheartening, to say the least.
    Here, the comments are in keeping with the value of the main post. I learn so much from all who write here!

    I will echo what Ryan has said about your site; it is truly a bright spot—–and for that I am most grateful.

    p.s. rhymeswithgoalie: Yes! Tornadoes are terrifying. Over the years I’ve spent many an hour huddled under the stairs in the basement with guinea pig, border collie and daughter —– weather radio/supplies at hand while sirens were going off. I will not live in a house without a basement or storm shelter in the midwest! Yikes, and it’s that time of year again . . . . .

    Reply
  12. Abel Adamski

     /  April 13, 2016

    One for DT and CB
    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/aggressive-infectious-bacteria-species-found-in-sydney-harbour-20160412-go4e0v.html

    An aggressive species of marine bacteria responsible for many more deaths than sharks worldwide each year has been found in Sydney Harbour, with experts predicting outbreaks in spots along the city’s waterfront as water temperatures rise with global warming.

    Vibrio bacteria, which includes the species that causes cholera, can cause serious illness in humans and animals, including gastrointestinal sickness through consumption of contaminated seafood and flesh-eating infections in swimmers.

    According to a new study by University of Technology Sydney scientists, two species of potentially dangerous Vibrio bacteria were detectable in particularly high concentrations when the water was warmest and in areas of mid-salinity, around Parramatta Park, Olympic Park and Rozelle.

    The risk factors just keep multiplying

    Reply
  13. Severe heatwave grips Malaysia

    “Food production has been badly affected and there have been chronic water shortages across the region.

    Temperatures in Malaysia soared above 37C on Monday, prompting more than 250 schools to close. The country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, rarely sees highs vary beyond 32C or 33C throughout the entire year.

    This led local authorities to order schools in the states of Perlis and Pahang to shut temporarily. The education ministry told the news agency Bernama that the decision was made to protect the health of around 100,000 pupils.”

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/04/severe-heatwave-grips-malaysia-160411102328907.html

    Reply
  14. Jeremy

     /  April 13, 2016

    ” Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N), the world’s largest privately owned coal producer, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection on Wednesday in the wake of a sharp fall in coal prices that left it unable to service a recent debt-fueled expansion into Australia.”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/peabody-worlds-top-private-coal-061823090.html

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  April 13, 2016

      Mr. Peabody’s coal train won’t be haulin’ Muhlenberg County away no more. What’s left of it….

      Reply
    • Jeremy

       /  April 13, 2016

      Unfortunately Kevin, the bankruptcy will only result in a financial restructuring (along with a whole bunch of layoffs) while destructive activities continue.

      Economic contraction/collapse continues.

      Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  April 13, 2016

        Yeah. Perhaps President Trump can nationalize it and sell lumps as Christmas stocking stuffers. Think of the mark-up! ‘Nuf to rescue the economy.

        Reply
      • If you read the production reports, you find that US coal output continues to fall. Exports are down about 25 percent. And pretty much the entire coal industry is in trouble or in bankruptcy.

        The US economy continues to advance, albeit slowly. This appears to me to be a start of decoupling a growth in destructive materials based consumption and increased economic benefits. In other words, rumors of a current overall financial collapse are greatly exaggerated. The sectors that have been hit did transfer some of their losses to unwise investors. But that’s a somewhat different ball of yarn.

        Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  April 13, 2016

      I wonder if they will blame the LNP Australian Government and financial sector and supporters such as the IPA who encouraged them and promoted those expansions. They would have survived if Gillard was still in power and those expansions had been prevented.

      Ahh well fools and their money

      Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  April 13, 2016

    The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration

    Heat index soars to record 51°C

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/779281/heat-index-soars-to-record-51c

    Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  April 13, 2016

    Epic hail pounds Texas, upping damage to nearly $2 billion this month

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  April 13, 2016

      And the cost of the damage left to be repaired can now be measured in the billions. The two storms last month combining for an at least $1.3 billion price tag.

      “What may be $2 billion in hail damage just from three North Texas hail storms. It’s a pretty serious omen” Hanna said.

      Link

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  April 13, 2016

        There is nowhere to move to. Higher ground is only an illusion. Fire, hail, drought, wind, etc. We are in this together:

        Reply
        • There’s certainly no safe place in a human hothouse world. We all face habitat destruction. Everyone and everywhere.

      • Greg

         /  April 13, 2016

        Yes. “I can hear your whisper and distant mutter. I can smell your damp on the breeze and in the sky I see the halo of your violence. Storm I know you are coming.” – RScribbler

        Reply
        • Wow. Someone actually wrote that… Thanks for reminding me.😉

          In all honesty, though, the power and majesty of storms has always compelled me. At the time that I wrote this, it had just become very clear to me that we were making the storms worse. And that was something to think about. That a thing as gargantuan as a storm could be built up and riled by the black alchemy of fossil fuel burning. We’ve meddled with the ancient powers and we’ve let loose giants that the world hasn’t seen for millions of years.

          God help us.

      • – Like you’ve said in the past:

        ‘Texas’ Monster Hail Could Be on the Rise With Warming’


        This tug of war moves the ice up and down through the freezing level where it collides with other ice and raindrops that freeze onto it.

        Eventually, the hailstone becomes too hefty for the updrafts to keep it aloft and it plummets to the ground. The bigger the hail, the stronger the updraft needed to keep it from falling.

        Strong updrafts require a more unstable atmosphere, which is linked to the amount of water vapor the air contains. One of the most well-established consequences of atmospheric warming is the capacity for the air to hold more water vapor, which means that the instability that drives severe storms is expected to increase in the future.

        The heating of the atmosphere also means that the freezing level is expected to rise, Allen said, which means hailstones have a deeper pocket of warm air to fall through before reaching the ground. Studies have suggested this could mean that smaller hail — below about 2 inches in diameter — will fall less often in the future because they are more likely to melt
        http://wxshift.com/news/texas-monster-hail-could-be-on-rise-with-warming

        Reply
      • – Was for Bob, the above – “Like you’ve said in the past’.

        Reply
  17. Andy in SD

     /  April 13, 2016

    Look at the difference between the west and east coasts of Greenland now. This may setup a fairly quick / higher solar absorption on the west side this summer due to albedo change.

    http://www.arctic.io/explorer/8/2016-04-12/8-N61.6409-W45.51954

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Andy. If you look down through the clouds you can see the characteristic light blue signature of melt all along the west coast of Greenland. For April, we can honestly say we’ve never seen anything like this. It looks, and the model data confirms this, more like June.

      Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  April 13, 2016

    Peabody Energy, the largest coal company in the Western world, declared bankruptcy Wednesday. The announcement is a towering sign that coal power likely has reached a point of no return in a world seeking cleaner energy sources.

    Link

    Reply
  19. – It comes as no surprise to me. These fellow beings have been at this a long, long, time. They have lied the whole time too — just as they have taught many others to lie. We didn’t get into this fossil fuel mess by accident, you know. We had a lot of help…

    – Union of Concerned Scientists

    New Evidence Reveals Fossil Fuel Industry Funded Cutting-Edge Climate Science Research Dating Back to 1950s

    WASHINGTON (April 13, 2016)—A trove of documents released today by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) reveals that the oil industry was well aware of the potential climate risks of fossil fuels decades earlier than was widely believed. The uncovered industry communications, scientific papers, and oral histories demonstrate that the petroleum industry was conducting climate research as early as 1957 and knew about the potential for catastrophic climate risks by 1968 at the latest.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/press/2016/new-evidence-reveals-fossil-fuel-industry-funded-cutting-edge-climate-science-research#.Vw6RinpWiSp

    Reply
    • – Inside Climate News

      CO2’s Role in Global Warming Has Been on the Oil Industry’s Radar Since the 1960s

      Historical records reveal early industry concern with air pollutants, including smog and CO2, and unwanted regulation

      …based on hundreds of public documents assembled by CIEL, along with others gathered by ICN.

      The documents trace early academic research into rising carbon dioxide levels. They show how the oil industry monitored that published work, and help explain the beginnings of its own research. They also show how industry’s reaction to mid-century regulation to curtail other forms of air pollution, such as smog, helped shape its approach toward the risks of carbon dioxide.

      The documents reveal a deep and persistent interest by industry in the CO2 issue, according to Carroll Muffett, a lawyer who is president of CIEL. If it is shown that oil companies knew fossil fuels posed dangers to the public, he said, the industry might become vulnerable to product liability complaints.

      “From a products liability perspective, these documents raise potential claims that oil companies failed to warn consumers about a potentially serious risk linked to their products,” he said.

      http://insideclimatenews.org/news/13042016/climate-change-global-warming-oil-industry-radar-1960s-exxon-api-co2-fossil-fuels

      Reply
    • Reply
  1. Primeiros Três Meses de 2016 Já Acima do Limiar Perigoso de 1,5 C

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