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‘Arctic amplification’ phenomenon confirmed by Greenland’s 2015 record-high melt records and temperature rise

Jun 21, 2016 09:03 PM EDT
Melting Glacier In Greenland
Greenland ice melted on Monday at such a catastrophic speed that scientists could hardly believe it. It was such an the "extreme melt event" that experts had to check if they were making a mistake.
(Photo : The Asahi Shimbun / Contributor/Getty Images)

After observed record-breaking temperature rise and melting records for the year 2015 in northwest Greenland, recent studies show the very first evidence linking the melting in Greenland to the expected effects and the confirmation of the phenomenon called the Arctic amplification.

 A recent study published in Nature Communications reveals that the 2015 meting and temperature rise record in Greenland was the result of the phenomenon called the Arctic amplification.

This phenomenon describes the faster warming of the Artic in comparison to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere while sea ice continues to disappear. Due to increasing global temperatures, Arctic sea ice melts to dark open water, which absorbs solar radiation faster than the rest of the globe and would eventually warm the Artic more.

Arctic amplification, though well-documented, is continually being challenged and disputed by scientists, and this discovery supports the theory of the phenomenon. A branch of this theory implies that the decreasing difference in temperature between the mid-latitudes and the Arctic will eventually lead to the decelerating of the jet stream that encircles the northern latitudes. This jet stream normally separates ice-cold polar air from the warmer, Southern air. The interruption of the jet stream, such as that seen on the coast of Greenland, would then allow moist, warmer air to seep farther north, warming up the Earth.

The interruption of the jet stream in Greenland is so vital and alarming to the scientists involved in climate change and sea level rise monitoring because of the massiveness of the Greenland ice sheet. If this ice sheet, the second largest of the world next to Antartica, were to melt, global sea level would rise up to seven meters. It is, therefore, vital for the researchers on sea level rise to understand the factors of the melting ice, the rapidness and extent to how much sea level would rise in the future and how the freshwater run-off from Greenland's melting ice caps would affect ocean ecology and circulation.

Whether the patterns observed in the previous year will continue on remains unknown. According to the study's lead author Marco Tedesco, scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and research professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the conditions observed in the past "are not necessarily those of the future. We are going into uncharted territory if humans change the forcing."

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