Increased Greenland melt triggered by large-scale, year-round cyclonic moisture intrusions

Oltmanns, Marilena ORCID:; Straneo, Fiammetta; Tedesco, Marco. 2019 Increased Greenland melt triggered by large-scale, year-round cyclonic moisture intrusions. The Cryosphere, 13 (3). 815-825.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (7MB) | Preview


Surface melting is a major driver of Greenland's mass loss. Yet, the mechanisms that trigger melt are still insufficiently understood because seasonally based studies blend processes initiating melt with positive feedbacks. Here, we focus on the triggers of melt by examining the synoptic atmospheric conditions associated with 313 rapid melt increases, detected in a satellite-derived melt extent product, equally distributed throughout the year over the period 1979–2012. By combining reanalysis and weather station data, we show that melt is initiated by a cyclone-driven, southerly flow of warm, moist air, which gives rise to large-scale precipitation. A decomposition of the synoptic atmospheric variability over Greenland suggests that the identified, melt-triggering weather pattern accounts for ∼40 % of the net precipitation, but increases in the frequency, duration and areal extent of the initiated melting have shifted the line between mass gain and mass loss as more melt and rainwater run off or accumulate in the snowpack. Using a regional climate model, we estimate that the initiated melting more than doubled over the investigated period, amounting to ∼28 % of the overall surface melt and revealing that, despite the involved mass gain, year-round precipitation events are participating in the ice sheet's decline.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1994-0424
Date made live: 19 Nov 2019 13:14 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...