Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


NASA finds Greenland snow melting hit record high in high places

A new NASA-supported study reports that 2007 marked an overall rise in the melting trend over the entire Greenland ice sheet and, remarkably, melting in high-altitude areas was greater than ever at 150 percent more than average. In fact, the amount of snow that has melted this year over Greenland could cover the surface size of the U.S. more than twice.

Marco Tedesco, a research scientist at the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, cooperatively managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, used satellite data to compare average snow melting from 1988-2006 with what has taken place this summer. He found that in high altitude areas over 1.2 miles above sea level, the melting index -- an indicator of where melting is occurring and for how long - was significantly higher than average. Melting over those areas occurred 25-30 days longer this year than the observed average in the previous 19 years.

"When snow melts at those high altitudes and then refreezes, it can absorb up to four times more energy than fresh, unthawed snow," said Tedesco. "This can affect Earth's energy budget by changing how much radiation from the sun is absorbed by the Earth versus that reflected back into the atmosphere. Refrozen snow can also alter the snow density, thickness and snow-water content." Tedesco's findings were published Sept. 25 in the American Geophysical Union's Eos newspaper.

Researchers determine the melting index by multiplying how long melting took place by the area where the increased melting took place. According to Tedesco, melting in April and May of this year in high-altitude areas was very low, but in June melting jumped unexpectedly and led to the record melting index for the year.

"This record melting index in those areas came as a bit of a surprise, showing us, once again, the extreme variability and complexity of these processes," said Tedesco. His expertise in documenting melting trends produced other recent studies on increased snow melting over Greenland and the Antarctic.

The data collected by the Special Sensor Microwave Imagers on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites provided Tedesco with insight into how much of an electromagnetic signal was naturally emitted by snow and ice in areas beneath the satellite overpass. The microwave instruments can detect melting above and below the snow surface. The data were processed at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., in just 24 hours after the satellite overpass, enabling Tedesco to quickly spot changes that could signal a melting trend or new record.

Tedesco's work also confirmed that the melting index this year in lower altitude areas of Greenland, though not record breaking, was higher than average by 30 percent, placing 2007 in fifth place for the highest melting index after 2005, 2002, 1998 and 2004, in that order.

"Increases in the overall melting trend over Greenland have an impact that stretches beyond its icy shores," said Tedesco. "Aside from contributing to direct sea level rise, melting especially along the coast can speed up glaciers since the meltwater acts like a lubricant between the frozen surface and the bedrock deep below. The faster glaciers flow, the more water enters the ocean and potentially impacts sea level rise." Tedesco, along with U.S. and European colleagues, plans to combine satellite data with related climate model results. He plans to visit Greenland in 2008 to compare his findings from space-borne data with those obtained by ground-based sensors, all with an eye to gathering further clues of what is happening on Greenland.

Lynn Chandler | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>