The summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet received rains for the first time in the recorded history. Temperatures usually are well below freezing on the 3,216-metre (10,551ft) peak, and this rain suggests drastic climate change patterns.
Scientists at the US National Science Foundation’s summit station observed rain falling throughout August 14. Since it was so unexpected, they did not have the proper equipment to measure the rainfall. Across Greenland, an estimated seven bn tonnes of water was released from the clouds, reported The Guardian.
The rain was seen when Greenland had three of its hottest days, with a temperature of 18C higher than average in places. Hence, melting was seen in most places across an area about four times the size of the UK.
Zoe Courville, a research engineer at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, woke up to the sounds of raindrops falling on the window.
He said, “Basically, the entire day of Saturday, it was raining every hour that [staff] was making weather observations. And that’s the first time that’s been observed happening at the station.”
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the melt temperature peaked at 337,000 square miles.
Though this event was smaller than the melting event on July 28, which covered 340,000 square miles of the ice sheet, it is still to be marked as necessary because of the consequences. Besides this year, only 2012 had such extreme melt events occurring multiple times, reported The Washington Times.
Von Walden, a professor at Washington State University and member of the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, said, “The anomalous thing for this year was this huge rain event that encompassed a lot of southern Greenland. Imagine the difference between having rainfall on an ice sheet rather than snow. The rain can melt snow, basically.”
Jennifer Mercer, Program Officer for the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Program’s Arctic Sciences and Arctic Research Support and Logistics section, said, “[Rain is] not something you would expect to measure [there].”
The summit is at 10,551 feet in elevation, where temperatures are almost always below freezing. According to observations at Summit Station from 1989, only three times the temperature rose above freezing in the past 32 years before this year. Preceding this data, melting at the ice cap happened before this in the 1880s.
If the melting continues similarly, the global sea level will rise by about 6metres high. Though these phenomena might take many centuries to occur, trillions of tonnes lost from Greenland since 1994 has increased the sea level threatening the world’s coastal cities.
Professor Walden added in his speculations that, Climate “modellers would have a good idea of.
That’s important to know what happened there in terms of how much it’s going to contribute to runoff and the mass loss or gain.”