Melt ponds on the Greenland Ice Sheet • Earth.com

Melt ponds on the Greenland Ice Sheet

11-06-2022

Today’s Video of the Day from the European Space Agency is focused on the melt ponds that emerge during the spring and summer on the Greenland Ice Sheet, which is the largest ice mass in the northern hemisphere.

“Melt ponds are vast pools of open water that form on both sea ice and ice sheets and are visible as turquoise-blue pools of water in this Copernicus Sentinel-2 image,” says ESA.

“When snow and ice melts atop glaciers, water flows in channels and streams and collects in depressions on the surface. These melt ponds can speed up the melting of the surrounding ice since they greatly reduce the ice’s ability to reflect sunlight.”

“This can create a positive feedback where an increasing number of melt ponds absorb more heat which causes ice cover to melt even faster.”

According to ESA, Greenland has been hit with a late-season heatwave that began in early September. This caused the type of melt event that usually occurs in the middle of summer.

“In a recent paper published in Nature Climate Change, scientists found that major sea-level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice cap is now ‘inevitable’ even if the burning of fossil fuels were to halt overnight,” says ESA. “Using satellite observations of Greenland ice loss and ice cap from 2000 to 2019, the team found the losses will lead to a minimum rise of 27 cm regardless of climate change.”

Video Credit: ESA 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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