Even at the highest point of the Greenland ice sheet, it rained instead of snow for the first time since weather records began, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder (USA) last week. This is another warning sign that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet will reach a tipping point in the foreseeable future and thus may be irreversible.
The summit, on which rain fell on August 14, is 3,216 meters above sea level and 72 degrees north. During the day, temperatures were above freezing for about nine hours, with huge amounts of ice and snow melting. A decrease in hot air masses has already caused a significant amount of ice to melt in June. These melt events are on the rise in the context of the climate crisis: according to records with gauge instruments, something similar happened in 1995, 2012 and 2019. The event measured now is also the most recent one observed in a year.
It would drain much of the rain that fell as rain and meltwater that was released into the sea rather than strengthening the Greenland ice sheet. This is especially true for surfaces that are not covered with loose snow, but with solid ice on which water does not seep. These frozen ice sheets often formed in mid-August in the southwest and north of the coast. On August 15, conditions ensured that water losses at sea exceeded the average expected value of the season by more than seven times.
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