Arctic Amplification in Greenland

Greenland SW mountains

Greenland may be also affected by Arctic amplification phenomenon.

Researchers analyzed the modifications that occurred last year in the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere of Greenland and used the Arctic amplification model to explain the changes.

Scientists believe that Greenland’s melting ice contributes to the loss of ice in the North Pole. Moreover, the rate of warming becomes faster in the higher latitudes.

The disappearance of the ice cover from the oceans makes the surface of the water appear black, which attracts more solar rays and consequently absorbs more thermal radiation. The phenomenon is called Arctic amplification.

The model tries to explain why the Arctic is warming twice as fast than the rest of the planet.

During last year’s summer, the jet stream went further north than ever. Winds that usually blew from west to east reversed their course and took the opposite direction.

“Last year was unique in the extensive melting that occurred on the northern reaches of the ice sheet, an area that usually has rather modest melt compared to southern Greenland. We identified an unusual configuration of the jet stream toward northern Greenland that led to this melt pattern,” said Thomas Mote, a researcher from the University of Georgia.

Greenland has the largest ice sheet in the world, except for Antarctica. If the island would completely melt, the sea levels will rise by 23 feet.

Arctic amplification had been long debated over the years, as it was not thought it could lead to changes in the atmosphere.

Some scientists suggest that a reduction in the differences in temperature between the Arctic and the temperate zone could make the jet stream to slow down. This hypothetical situation may explain how the warm, humid air could travel up in the higher latitudes.

Greenland’s loss of ice may be provoked by Arctic amplification, but scientists say they would need further monitoring data in order to prove this causality.

The danger is that the warm water produced by the ice melting could change the circulation patterns in the oceans.

Moreover, ice melting is influenced by modifications of the climate from the rest of the globe. The ecosystem is strongly interconnected, and all must be interpreted in terms of causality and association.

As the data is not conclusive, scientists will have to find alternative explanations for the warming trends and the ice melting from the North Pole, and also to propose new courses of action against climate change.

Image Source: Flickr

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