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Publication Date
16 April 2021

Greenland Surface Melt Dominated by Solar and Sensible Heating



The Greenland Ice Sheet is the primary source of global Barystatic sea-level rise, and at least half of its recent mass-loss acceleration is caused by surface meltwater runoff. Previous studies on surface melt have examined various thermodynamic and dynamic drivers, yet their contributions are not compared using unified observations. We use decade-long in-situ measurements from automatic weather stations throughout the ablation zone to assess energy components and identify the leading physical processes in this area. Large melt events exceeding 3σ contribute only ∼2% to total surface melt since 2007. The day-to-day variability of all melt is dominated by sensible heat exchange (31 ± 7%) and shortwave radiation (28 ± 5%). Sensible and solar heating correlate with the occurrence of dry and fast gravity-driven winds. These katabatic winds increase sensible heating of the surface mainly by enhancing vertical mixing that reduces the temperature inversion. The concomitant low humidity and clear skies yield increased solar heating.
“Greenland Surface Melt Dominated By Solar And Sensible Heating”. 2021. Geophysical Research Letters 48. doi:10.1029/2020gl090653.
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