Heatwave conditions catapulted Greenland into an early Arctic summer in June, prompting widespread melting across its icesheet surface, according to researchers at the Danish Meteorological Institute.
Although unusually early, this weather-related event is not unprecedented, according to climate scientist Dr Ruth Mottram, who has published a comprehensive assessment that details major longer-term changes occurring across the planet’s second largest icesheet, in the journal Remote Sensing.
The research, involving scientists from DMI, the Technical University of Denmark and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, combined 30 years of satellite observations of the icesheet’s surface height, mass and movement with climate model output. Collectively this work provides a ‘health check on the icesheets current status and helps to establish the extent of ice loss due to surface melt or from other ocean processes, such as iceberg calving.
An average 255 gigatonnes of ice was lost each year from 2003 to 2016, according to the research team’s findings.