Warm Temperature Extremes Across Greenland Connected to Clouds

Gallagher, M.R., H. Chepfer, M.D. Shupe, and R. Guzman, 2020: Warm Temperature Extremes Across Greenland Connected to Clouds. Geophysical Research Letters, 47 (9), https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL086059.


Greenland ice sheet melt is a large contributor to rising global sea level and melt is dependent on surface air temperature. Arctic temperatures are strongly coupled to clouds but spatial connections between clouds and temperature have yet to be established across Greenland. By mapping spaceborne lidar measurements and surface observations, it is shown that radiatively opaque clouds generally coincide with anomalously warm near-surface temperatures at Greenland sites. These results indicate that both temperatures over 0 ┬░C as well as positive daily temperature anomalies relate to spatially extensive opaque cloud cover. While prior studies indicate that clouds enhance extreme melt events, this research shows that opaque cloud cover and surface warming are closely related across the Greenland ice sheet, particularly in the ablation region. These findings establish broadly the spatial relationships between opaque clouds and temperatures and demonstrate the importance of direct observations across Greenland.