Analysis: Greenland Has Been Cooling In Recent Years – 26 Of Its 47 Largest Glaciers Now Stable Or Gaining Ice

By: - Climate DepotMay 24, 2019 1:22 PM

A new analysis of recent trends for the Greenland ice sheet reveals that since 2012 there has been an abrupt slowing of melt rates and a trend reversal to cooling and ice growth.

• In 2018, 26 of Greenland’s 47 largest glaciers were either stable or grew in size.

• Overall, the 47 glaciers advanced by +4.1  km² during 2018.  Of the 6 largest glaciers, 4 grew while 2 retreated.

• Since 2012, ice loss has been “minor” to “modest” due to the dramatic melting slowdown.

• Summer average temperatures for 2018 were lower than the 2008-2018 average by more than one standard deviation.

• Since 2000, the extent of the non-snow-covered areas of Greenland has increased by 500 km² per year.

Image Source: Polar Portal Season Report 2018

Large regions of the oceans surrounding Greenland have been rapidly cooling – by as much as 1-2°C – in the last few years.

Image Source: Willis et al., 2018

Temperature trends across the ice-free part of Greenland indicate cooling since 2001.

Image Source: Westergaard-Nielson et al., 2018

Central Greenland has undergone a slight cooling trend since 2005.

Image Source: Kobashi et al., 2017

Jakobshavn Isbrae, Greenland’s largest contributing glacier to sea level rise in recent decades, has stopped melting and begun advancing in line with an abrupt -2°C cooling that has encapsulated the region.

The glacier is now thickening at a rate of 20 meters per year.

Image Source: BBC

Ocean temperatures in the region have cooled to levels not seen since the 1980s.

Image Source: Khazendar et al., 2019

Image Source: Khazendar et al., 2019

Greenland’s climate has been observed to lag the North Atlantic’s.  If so, further cooling and glacier thickening may be in store during the coming decades.

Image Source: Piecuch et al., 2017

From a longer-term perspective, notice how cold the Subpolar North Atlantic sea surface temperatures are today. Temperatures have plummeted in the last century.

These short- and long-term trends appear to be at odds with what would be expected in a rapidly-warming world.

Image Source: Orme et al., 2018