Sudden start of the melt season in Greenland

Published 09-07-2013

During the first three weeks of June, the Greenland ice sheet has experienced extensive melting, but has now again returned to more normal values.

The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet really began in early June, which means that the ice surface is now beginning to lose mass again after the winter snowfall. The melting started abruptly around 10 June and although there still was falling snow in some places, there was a net loss from the whole ice sheet surface of 8 cubic kilometers of water at June 13. This corresponds to the amount of water that can be stored in a 1 kilometer deep paddling pool, which is 4 km long and 2 km wide.

One can say that the ice surface this year has been favorable for the start of melting, because the snow fall in the spring has been limited. This means that the ice surface is darker than normal, and therefore absorbs more of the sun radiation, and this effect was later enhanced by high temperature in the middle of June.

After approximately three weeks og intensive melting the heat was discontinued on June 23 by a return to cooler weather, and the calculations now show that both net loss of ice from the surface and total loss of ice from the ice sheet, which also includes the loss of icebergs, are now close to normal values.

Read more about the beginning of the melt season in the news article: "Intense June melt events on the Greenland Ice Sheet" on the Polar Portal

See the latest knowledge about how climate change is affecting the Greenland Ice Sheet and sea ice in the Arctic on


Jason Box, GEUS

Peter Lang Langen, DMI

The melt season on the Greenland Ice Sheet has really begun

The melt season on the Greenland Ice Sheet has really begun. Photo: Henrik Højmark Thomsen