Greenland is in the throes of a very intense ice melt episode, in part due to heavy rains, the consequences of which could be severe.
Greenland is under pressure right now. The worrying climatic dynamics that we see all over the world have been accelerating in this area for several months now. And it is all the more visible on his ice sheet, the enormous mass of ice that makes up 80% of its territory. Recently, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) quoted by Gizmodo, the researchers there had a very bad surprise; against all expectations, the area suffered from a violent episode of rain.
It is certainly not the first time that it rains in Greenland, far from it; the area was even prone to torrential rain for a few days. On the other hand, this quite commonplace phenomenon in our latitudes is much more worrying in the Summit Camp, the highest point of the ice sheet and 4th highest peak in Greenland. This is simply the first rain event since the start of the weather records in the area. In this area where summer averages are below -10 ° C, it is only the third time in ten years that researchers have recorded positive temperatures, according to the NSIDC.
According to this same source, on August 14, the ice melt even reached 850,000km². This figure is higher than the surface area of France, measured at approximately 643,801 km ²… and which represents the third largest melting episode ever recorded on site.
An already well documented tipping point
These rains are worrying for several reasons. Obviously, they represent a direct and very visible consequence of atmospheric warming, but they also come with additional consequences. Since it is by definition material hotter than ice, these rains considerably increase the rate of melting of the ice sheet, with all the consequences that this implies. We know, for example, that this phenomenon actively participate to rising sea levels.
And as always in climatology, this situation also presents a potential for tipping point disturbing. Indeed, when the ice is partially or totally melted, it reflects solar radiation less efficiently. This is a considerable problem, because in normal times this layer of ice forms a real shield, which prevents the Earth from absorbing too much solar radiation. The more it melts, the more energy the Earth absorbs, which it then releases into the atmosphere in the form of infrared radiation. The temperature of the atmosphere therefore increases, which favors rainfall to the detriment of snow… and so on.
More than ever, there is therefore an urgent need to act to stem these phenomena, under penalty of seeing the most pessimistic predictions of the IPCC to come true.