Cancún starts, Greenland thaws

Today COP16, the follow-up to last years UN climate conference in Copenhagen, starts in the Mexican city of Cancún. Also today Greenland sees record high temperatures.

Although people in the UK may be tempted to think such amounts of late November snow must somehow indicate the end of global GHG-induced climate warming, wait until you hear today’s weather forecast for Greenland…

Well into the dark, sun-deprived Arctic winter, temperatures on the southern tip of the ice-covered island, close to the capitol Nuuk, rose to 14 degrees Celsius yesterday. Thaw continues during the nights and all along the Greenland west coast the glaciers are met with rain. Even the coastal settlement of Qaanaaq, or Thule in Danish, the furthest to the Northwest, and far beyond the Arctic Circle, will today see temperatures of some 5 degrees above freezing. That’s too hot, even for summer.

Of course local weather events should never be mistaken for climatic trends. Both the current cold spell in Northwest Europe and the remarkable winter thaw in Greenland are to be linked to the present negative phase in the Arctic Oscillation.

But the record high temperatures for Greenland are more than an event. Earlier this month NOAA published its Arctic Report Card. Measurements show this summer temperatures all around Greenland were 0.6 to 2.4 degrees above average (climate defined over 1971-2000). This resulted in the highest ever (<1958) recorded rate of ice loss and the biggest ever recorded (<1978) ice melting area.

The year 2010 is well under way to break more climate records worldwide, with a possibility of becoming the hottest year on record, NASA GISS data indicates. A recent publication in PLoS ONE already shows an all-time coral bleaching record.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

Comments are closed.