Global Warming and the Greenland Ice Sheet

Abstract

The Greenland coastal temperatures have followed the early 20th century global warming trend. Since 1940, however, the Greenland coastal stations data have undergone predominantly a cooling trend. At the summit of the Greenland ice sheet the summer average temperature has decreased at the rate of 2.2 °C per decade since the beginning of the measurements in 1987. This suggests that the Greenland ice sheet and coastal regions are not following the current global warming trend. A considerable and rapid warming over all of coastal Greenland occurred in the 1920s when the average annual surface air temperature rose between 2 and 4 °C in less than ten years (at some stations the increase in winter temperature was as high as 6 °C). This rapid warming, at a time when the change in anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases was well below the current level, suggests a high natural variability in the regional climate. High anticorrelations (r = −0.84 to−0.93) between the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) index and Greenland temperature time series suggest a physical connection between these processes. Therefore, the future changes in the NAO and Northern Annular Mode may be of critical consequence to the future temperature forcing of the Greenland ice sheet melt rates.

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Chylek, P., Box, J.E. & Lesins, G. Global Warming and the Greenland Ice Sheet. Climatic Change 63, 201–221 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:CLIM.0000018509.74228.03

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Keywords

  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Rapid Warming
  • Annual Surface
  • Temperature Time Series
  • Summer Average Temperature