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News: Clouds Accelerating Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Clouds Accelerating Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Is Greenland melting, and is this melt enough to contribute to global sea level rise? A common belief is that the ozone hole above Greenland causes the icepack to melt faster, but a new contender has appeared – Greenland’s clouds. While it may seem that a day is cold because it is cloudy, clouds can also trap heat and radiate it back to the ground, termed the ‘radiative effect’. This radiative effect of Greenland’s clouds doesn’t melt the ice directly, but it does stop the ice from freezing again, which leaves more ice exposed and increases the speed of Greenland’s ice sheet melting.

What kinds of clouds affect the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS for short) the most? It appears that ice-only and liquid-bearing clouds do the most, so the light and fluffy clouds are not the culprits here. However, more studies need to be done, and the CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites are uniquely positioned to provide this data, particularly with the 2B-FLXHR-LIDAR algorithm. Using these satellites’ data in combination will provide an enhanced understanding of these clouds’ effects on GrIS.

To learn more, read the full article here: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2016/160112/ncomms10266/full/ncomms10266.html

CloudSat Product Tags: 2B-FLXHR-LIDAR, MODIS-AUX, CPR

Synopsis Author: Kalina Velev, JPL