It may be bitterly cold in the northeast US right now, unusually frigid along much of the East Coast, but Greenland and the Arctic are practically balmy--15-20°F above normal in December, as the New York Times points out. Going along with that is some new research showing that Greenland's past ice melt season was exceptionally long, with some areas having an extra 50 days of melting in 2010. Dr Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at the City College of New York, notes that, "Melting in 2010 started exceptionally early at the end of April and ended quite late in mid-September." (Science Daily)
In a new article in Environmental Research Letters Tedesco and co-authors point out that for summer 2010 temperatures in Greenland were 3°C above average, with the capital of Greenland having the warmest spring and summer since records began in 1873.
Contributing to the longer than normal ice melt season were below normal snowfall, earlier and longer exposure of bare ice (which is darker than snow and absorbs more solar radiation). Other factors being investigated are the impact of lakes on Greenland's glacial surfaces, the effect of dust and soot on the ice sheet (which have been shown to have a major impact in accelerating melting in Himalayan glaciers), and how surface meltwater affects ice flow into the ocean (previous research has shown that is speeds it and is increased by short term weather extremes).
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More on Global Climate Change:
Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Caused By Short-Term Extreme Weather Not Gradual Temperature Rise
Dramatic Ice Loss May Get the Headlines, But 72% of Greenland's Ice Melt Comes From Small Glaciers
Greenland Rising as Ice Melts