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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-254
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-254
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 20 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Unprecedented atmospheric conditions (1948–2019) drive the 2019 exceptional melting season over the Greenland ice sheet

Marco Tedesco1,2 and Xavier Fettweis3 Marco Tedesco and Xavier Fettweis
  • 1Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
  • 2NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY 10025, USA
  • 3Department of Geography, University of Liège, Liège 4000, Belgium

Abstract. Understanding the role of atmospheric circulation anomalies on the surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is fundamental for improving estimates of its current and future contributions to sea level rise. Here, we show, using a combination of remote sensing observations, regional climate model outputs, reanalysis data and artificial neural networks, that unprecedented atmospheric conditions (1948–2019) occurring in the summer of 2019 over Greenland promoted new records or close-to-record values of SMB, runoff and snowfall. Specifically, runoff in 2019 ranked second within the 1948–2019 period (after 2012) and first in terms of surface mass balance negative anomaly for the hydrological year September 1, 2018–August 31, 2019. Summer of 2019 was characterized by an exceptional persistence of anticyclonic conditions that, in conjunction with low albedo associated with reduced snowfall in summer, enhanced the melt-albedo feedback by promoting the absorption of solar radiation and favored advection of warm, moist air along the western portion of the ice sheet towards the North, where the surface melt has been the highest since 1948. The analysis of the frequency of daily 500 hPa geopotential heights obtained from artificial neural networks shows that the total number of days with the most frequent atmospheric pattern that characterized the summer of 2019 was 5 standard deviations above the 1981–2010 mean, confirming the exceptional nature of the 2019 season over Greenland.

Marco Tedesco and Xavier Fettweis
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Status: open (until 15 Jan 2020)
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Marco Tedesco and Xavier Fettweis
Marco Tedesco and Xavier Fettweis
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Short summary
Unprecedented atmospheric conditions occurring in the summer of 2019 over Greenland promoted new records or close-to-record values of mass loss. Summer of 2019 was characterized by an exceptional persistence of anticyclonic conditions that enhanced melting.
Unprecedented atmospheric conditions occurring in the summer of 2019 over Greenland promoted new...
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