This article discusses rain falling on Greenland’s ice sheet. That’s a big problem.
Changing weather patterns have triggered a stark change in how Greenland is melting, according to a new paper published on Thursday. By combining data from satellites and weather stations, a team of scientists found that rainstorms are now driving nearly one-third of the frozen island’s rapid melt.
In terms of sea-level rise, meltwater runoff from the top of the Greenland ice sheet has recently surpassed the contribution of icebergs breaking off from its edges. Those runoff events are increasingly tied to rainstorms — even during winter — that trigger extensive new ice melt.
“That was a surprise to see,” lead author Marilena Oltmanns of the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Germany said in a statement. The researchers looked at more than 300 sudden melt episodes from 1979 to 2012, the most recent year available.