While Arctic sea ice melts, Greenland is becoming more snowy in summer!

August 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Greenland ice sheet always melts in summer.  Snow and ice especially melts around the lower altitude edges, coastline and often the “saddle” region between the north and south ice caps. The ice sheet snow cover always reaches a maximum at the end of winter when the entire land mass is covered in snow, 100%. The minimum snow cover reached by late summer (i.e now) is of greatest interest to climate scientists because summer snow cover varies each year and is therefore a more critical indicator of climate change. While the Greenland 2012 melt season was intense, the 2013 melt started late (May). Greenland currently has a greater coverage of snow than average for this time of year.

Of greater interest is the longer term trend. This is more of a climate paradox. While the cover of Arctic SEA ice in summer is reducing in extent and thickness, the snow cover over Greenland at the end of summer appears to have increased since satellite measurements began in the 60’s. Note the downward spikes on the graph… they have reduced in size showing a greater cover of snow over Greenland surviving and occasionally falling during summer. 

So… paradoxically, whilst summer minimum Arctic Sea Ice cover is reducing, the cover of snow over Greenland in summer appears to be increasing. Nevertheless, before we consider this as an indicator of less global warming (AGW), a glance at a global map of 2013 snow cover departures from the average shows that Greenland is alone amongst snowy parts of the globe in this increasing trend of summer snowiness.  Most high mountains which hang onto snow through the northern hemisphere summer are showing markedly LESS snow than average: Himalayas, Rockies, Alps and Pyrenees are all displaying lower than average snow cover for July.  This paradox of more summer snow cover in Greenland while summer Arctic Sea ice reduces in extent and thickness is another illustration of the complexity of global climate and how easy it is to pick out data to suit any agenda.

Meanwhile, forecast for today: Greenland ice cap today light winds, snow, cloudy, -25ºC; Reigate +22ºC, sunny, light winds.

greenland temp





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