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Lassonde Professor’s study finds Arctic heat waves responsible for glacial melts


Lassonde Professor William Colgan‘s study on the causes of Greenland ice sheet melt has been published in Geophysical Research Letters and has since attracted global attention.

The study suggests that Arctic heat waves cause extreme melts of the Greenland ice sheet.

“Glaciological instrumentation capable of automatically recording the daily rate of melting in exceptional melt circumstances, where the ice surface lowers by close to 10 m in a few months, has only emerged in the last decade or so, thanks to PROMICE. The detail of PROMICE observations is permitting new insights on brief, but consequential, exceptional melt events,” says William Colgan.

While ice sheet melt is usually dominated by the radiant energy associated with sunlight, the researchers found that the energy associated with air temperature and moisture content, rather than radiant energy, was responsible for more melt during the 2012 exceptional melt episodes.

William Colgan is returning to Greenland shortly for yet another important research project.

Read CBC coverage here.


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