Standardized melting index (SMI) for the period 1979 - 2012. the years between 1979 and 2011 use the full length season (May through September) where 2012 uses only the available period May through August 8th. Note that 2012 value is much higher than any of the previous years, despite the shorter period. Marco Tedesco

By Marco Tedesco
15 August 2012

Melting in Greenland set a new record before the end of the melting season. Over the past days, the cumulative melting index over the entire Greenland ice sheet (defined as the number of days when melting occurs times the area subject to melting) on August 8th exceeded the record value recently set in 2010 for the whole melting season (which usually ends around the beginning or mid September).

The melting index is computed from passive microwave satellite measurements and it can be seen as a measure of the ‘strength’ of the melting season: the higher the index the more melting occurred.  With more melting yet to come during August, 2012 will position itself way above the old records, likely becoming the 'Goliath' of the melting years during the satellite record (1979 - to date).  … The cumulative melting index record is due to extensive increased melting occurring all over Greenland, especially at high elevations where melting lasted up to 50-60 days longer than the average. This means that some of the areas at high elevations in south Greenland are generally subject to a few days of melting (if it happens at all) and this year they underwent melting for more than 2 months (so far). […]

2012: The 'Goliath' melting year

A system of meltwater streams and rivers in the Kangerlussuaq area of the Greenland ice sheet during a record melting year, 21 July 2012. Marco TedescoMedia Contact: Jessa Netting, 212-650-7615,
15 August 2012

Melting over the Greenland ice sheet shattered the seasonal record on August 8 – a full four weeks before the close of the melting season, reported Marco Tedesco, assistant professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at The City College of New York. 

The melting season in Greenland usually lasts from June – when the first puddles of meltwater appear – to early-September, when temperatures cool. This year, cumulative melting in the first week in August had already exceeded the record of 2010, taken over a full season, according to Professor Tedesco’s ongoing analysis. 

“With more yet to come in August, this year’s overall melting will fall way above the old records. That’s a goliath year – the greatest melt since satellite recording began in 1979,” said Professor Tedesco.

This spells a change for the face of southern Greenland, he added, with the ice sheet thinning at its edges and lakes on top of glaciers proliferating.

Professor Tedesco noted that these changes jibe with what most of the models predict – the difference is how quickly this seems to be happening.

To quantify the changes, he calculated the duration and extent of melting throughout the season across the whole ice sheet, using data collected by microwave satellite sensors.*

This ‘cumulative melting index’ can be seen as a measure of the ‘strength’ of the melting season: the higher the index, the more melting has occurred. (The index is defined as the number of days when melting occurs multiplied by the total area subject to melting.)

Dr. Thomas Mote, Professor of Geography at the University of Georgia and colleague of Professor Tedesco, confirmed that the cumulative melt in 2012 had surpassed that of 2010 using a similar analysis. 

The August 8th record differs from NASA’s announcement of unprecedented melting in mid-July, reported by Professor Tedesco and other researchers. Then, they found that the Greenland ice sheet had melted over 97 percent of its surface.

“That event was exceptional in the sense that it was an extremely rare event,” said Professor Tedesco. “Imagine Rio de Janeiro under a layer of snow and you get the idea.”

The extreme melting detected in mid-July generated liquid water that refroze after a few days. “This changed the physical properties of the snowpack – making a slushy layer that turned into an icy crust after refreezing – but very likely it did not add to the runoff of meltwater that makes sea levels rise.”

The cumulative melting index, on the other hand, does account for water flowing to the ocean. The same meltwater can affect ice dynamics by lubricating the base of the ice sheet and speeding its slide toward the sea.

This year, Greenland experienced extreme melting in nearly every region – the west, northwest and northeast of the continent – but especially at high elevations. In most years, the ice and snow at high elevations in southern Greenland melt for a few days at most. This year it has already gone on for two months.

“We have to be careful because we are only talking about a couple of years and the history of Greenland happened over millennia,” cautioned Professor Tedesco. “But as far as we know now, the warming that we see in the Artic is responsible for triggering processes that enhance melting and for the feedback mechanisms that keep it going. Looking over the past few years, the exception has become part of the norm.”

The NASA Cryospheric Sciences Program and the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored this research.

Greenland Melting Breaks Record Four Weeks Early


  1. Anonymous said...

    This is simply not true. According to Senator Inhofe, the global warming myth is a total lie.

    All that measured melting then means that others are lying too. It's all one big gigantic conspiracy encompasses tens of thousands of scientists and researchers who are all in league together to foster the myth of global warming.

    Heck, even Paul Ryan (VP candidate) says its not true -- and we both know that these politicians are climate experts and would only inform us on the entire truth!

    Now, the huge fires in Oklahoma (Inhofe's home state) must mean something else -- either that, or they're not true either!

    I suspect the latter is the case....

    Most of what these climate scientist are telling us is bald-face lies. Just ask Alex Jones or Anthony Watts. The truth is actually evident -- the planet is cooling and a little ice age is coming!

    What do you think happens when a rock hangs in space, losing it's heat the surrounding vacuum? It cools, quite rapidly!

    Of course, this means that all those thousands and thousands of broken high temperature records are also part of this gigantic conspiracy, involving weather stations, monitors, meteorologists and news reporters too!

    Frankly, the only part I cannot seem to understand is how they managed to pull this all off? Just imagine the coordination and cooperation that must be involved to get weather stations / people / equipment by the tens of thousands to all agree to participate in this conspiracy!

    You've got to give them credit for trying, after all, who else could have done this? Al Gore?

    Somehow, they've even gotten my own thermometer to show record heat! Now THAT is AMAZING.

  2. m said...

    I just new it!!!! Thanks for pointing out the truth for me!!  


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