Satellite data of Greenland reflectivity 1-22 June 2012 versus the same periods in previous Junes back to 2000. The blue colors indicate a decrease in reflectivity compared to previous Junes.
In a new study, Box and a team of researchers describe the decline in ice sheet reflectivity and the reasons behind it, noting that if current trends continue, the area of ice that melts during the summer season is likely to expand to cover all of Greenland for the first time in the observational record, rather than just the lower elevations at the edges of the continent, as is the case today. The study has been accept for publication in the open access journal The Cryosphere.
Box's research has shown that the change in the reflectivity of the Greenland ice sheet during the 12 summers between 2000 and 2011 allowed the ice sheet to absorb an extra 172 "quintillion joules" of energy, nearly twice the amount of energy consumed in the U.S. in 2009. This extra energy has gone into raising the temperature of the snow and ice cover during summer.