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Greenland Ice Sheet Melts More When It’s Cloudy

13.01.2016 13:55 Age: 2 yrs

Clouds help add mass to the ice sheet when it snows. Also, clouds block the sunlight, which lowers the temperature. At the same time, they form a blanket that keeps the surface warm, especially at night. A study examines the net result of these indirect effects on the entire Greenland ice sheet

Click to enlarge. Clouds over the Greenland ice sheet raise the temperature, which causes extra meltwater – a third more than clear skies. Courtesy and copyright: Utrecht University - Jan Lenaerts


From KU Leuven


−2. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, the Greenland ice sheet responds to this energy through a new pathway by which clouds reduce meltwater refreezing as opposed to increasing surface melt directly, thereby accelerating bare-ice exposure and enhancing meltwater runoff. The high sensitivity of the Greenland ice sheet to both ice-only and liquid-bearing clouds highlights the need for accurate cloud representations in climate models, to better predict future contributions of the Greenland ice sheet to global sea level rise.




KU Leuven news release here.