Rainfall at Greenland’s Ice Sheet Summit For First Time on Record

Icebergs near Ilulissat, Greenland. Scientists say extreme heat has worsened as a result of climate change and heat waves around the world are five times more frequent today than before 1900, according to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Photo: NordForsk/Terje Heiestad.)

In mid-August rain was observed at the highest point on the Greenland Ice Sheet for several hours, and air temperatures remained above freezing for about nine hours.

This was the third time in less than a decade, and the latest date in the year on record, that the National Science Foundation’s Summit Station had above-freezing temperatures and wet snow.

There is no previous record of rainfall at this location, which reaches 3,216 meters (10,551 feet) in elevation, said the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the first to report the findings.

Scientists said the temperatures increased starting at 5 a.m. local time on Aug. 14 when warm air and moisture came from the south. Rain was observed for the next several hours.

The Summit Station, which was first established in 1989 as a drill site, is the only high-altitude and high-latitude inland year‐round observation station in the Arctic. According to the station's website, it sits at the top of the Greenland ice sheet and is over 400 kilometers from the nearest point of land. 

July was the hottest month on Earth since record-keeping began 141 years ago, and June was the hottest month on record in the continental U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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