A new study by researchers from Denmark and Canada’s York University, published in Geophysical Research Letters, has found that the climate models commonly used to simulate melting of the Greenland ice sheet tend to underestimate the impact of exceptionally warm weather episodes on the ice sheet.
The study investigated the causes of ice melt during two exceptional melt episodes in 2012, which occurred from July 8 to 11 and from July 27 to 28. During these exceptional melt episodes, which can be regarded as an analogue to future climate, unusually warm and moist air was transported onto the ice sheet.
During one episode, the researchers measured the ice sheet melting at more than 28 cm per day, the largest daily melt rate ever documented on the ice sheet. While the two brief melt episodes only lasted six days combined, or six per cent of the melt season, they contributed to 14 per cent of the total melt.