AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on Greenland temperature

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on October 29, 2010

This is a list of papers on Greenland temperatures with an emphasis on modern temperatures. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

UPDATE (August 28, 2011): Kobashi et al. (2011), Masson-Delmotte et al. (2012), and Hall et al. (2012) added.
UPDATE (January 7, 2011): Alley & Koci (1990) added.

Greenland climate change: from the past to the future – Masson-Delmotte et al. (2012) “Climate archives available from deep sea and marine shelf sediments, glaciers, lakes, and ice cores in and around Greenland allow us to place the current trends in regional climate, ice sheet dynamics, and land surface changes in a broader perspective. We show that, during the last decade (2000s), atmospheric and sea surface temperatures are reaching levels last encountered millennia ago, when northern high latitude summer insolation was higher due to a different orbital configuration. Records from lake sediments in southern Greenland document major environmental and climatic conditions during the last 10,000 years, highlighting the role of soil dynamics in past vegetation changes, and stressing the growing anthropogenic impacts on soil erosion during the recent decades. Furthermore, past and present changes in atmospheric and oceanic heat advection appear to strongly influence both regional climate and ice sheet dynamics. Projections from climate models are investigated to quantify the magnitude and rates of future changes in Greenland temperature, which may be faster than past abrupt events occurring under interglacial conditions. Within one century, in response to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, Greenland may reach temperatures last time encountered during the last interglacial period, approximately 125,000 years ago. We review and discuss whether analogies between the last interglacial and future changes are reasonable, because of the different seasonal impacts of orbital and greenhouse gas forcings. Over several decades to centuries, future Greenland melt may act as a negative feedback, limiting regional warming albeit with global sea level and climatic impacts.” Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Didier Swingedouw, Amaëlle Landais, Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, Emilie Gauthier, Vincent Bichet, Charly Massa, Bianca Perren, Vincent Jomelli, Gudfinna Adalgeirsdottir, Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen, Jette Arneborg, Uma Bhatt, Donald A. Walker, Bo Elberling, Fabien Gillet-Chaulet, Catherine Ritz, Hubert Gallée, Michiel van den Broeke, Xavier Fettweis, Anne de Vernal, Bo Vinther, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Volume 3, Issue 5, pages 427–449, September/October 2012, DOI: 10.1002/wcc.186.

A Satellite-Derived Climate-Quality Data Record of the Clear-Sky Surface Temperature of the Greenland Ice Sheet – Hall et al. (2012) “The authors have developed a climate-quality data record of the clear-sky surface temperature of the Greenland Ice Sheet using the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) ice-surface temperature (IST) algorithm. Daily and monthly quality-controlled MODIS ISTs of the Greenland Ice Sheet beginning on 1 March 2000 and continuing through 31 December 2010 are presented at 6.25-km spatial resolution on a polar stereographic grid along with metadata to permit detailed accuracy assessment. The ultimate goal is to develop a climate data record (CDR) that starts in 1981 with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Polar Pathfinder (APP) dataset and continues with MODIS data from 2000 to the present, and into the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) era (the first VIIRS instrument was launched in October 2011). Differences in the APP and MODIS cloud masks have thus far precluded merging the APP and MODIS IST records, though this will be revisited after the APP dataset has been reprocessed with an improved cloud mask. IST of Greenland may be used to study temperature and melt trends and may also be used in data assimilation modeling and to calculate ice sheet mass balance. The MODIS IST climate-quality dataset provides a highly consistent and well-characterized record suitable for merging with earlier and future IST data records for climate studies. The complete MODIS IST daily and monthly data record is available online.” Hall, Dorothy K., Josefino C. Comiso, Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, Christopher A. Shuman, Jeffrey R. Key, Lora S. Koenig, 2012: A Satellite-Derived Climate-Quality Data Record of the Clear-Sky Surface Temperature of the Greenland Ice Sheet. J. Climate, 25, 4785–4798. doi: [Full text]

High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core – Kobashi et al. (2011) “Greenland recently incurred record high temperatures and ice loss by melting, adding to concerns that anthropogenic warming is impacting the Greenland ice sheet and in turn accelerating global sea-level rise. Yet, it remains imprecisely known for Greenland how much warming is caused by increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases versus natural variability. To address this need, we reconstruct Greenland surface snow temperature variability over the past 4000 years at the GISP2 site (near the Summit of the Greenland ice sheet; hereafter referred to as Greenland temperature) with a new method that utilises argon and nitrogen isotopic ratios from occluded air bubbles. The estimated average Greenland snow temperature over the past 4000 years was −30.7°C with a standard deviation of 1.0°C and exhibited a long-term decrease of roughly 1.5°C, which is consistent with earlier studies. The current decadal average surface temperature (2001–2010) at the GISP2 site is −29.9°C. The record indicates that warmer temperatures were the norm in the earlier part of the past 4000 years, including century-long intervals nearly 1°C warmer than the present decade (2001–2010). Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years, a period that seems to include part of the Holocene Thermal Maximum. Notwithstanding this conclusion, climate models project that if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue, the Greenland temperature would exceed the natural variability of the past 4000 years sometime before the year 2100.” Kobashi, T., K. Kawamura, J. P. Severinghaus, J.-M. Barnola, T. Nakaegawa, B. M. Vinther, S. J. Johnsen, and J. E. Box (2011), High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L21501, doi:10.1029/2011GL049444. [Full text]

Persistent multi-decadal Greenland temperature fluctuation through the last millennium – Kobashi et al. (2010) “Future Greenland temperature evolution will affect melting of the ice sheet and associated global sea-level change. Therefore, understanding Greenland temperature variability and its relation to global trends is critical. Here, we reconstruct the last 1,000 years of central Greenland surface temperature from isotopes of N2 and Ar in air bubbles in an ice core. This technique provides constraints on decadal to centennial temperature fluctuations. We found that northern hemisphere temperature and Greenland temperature changed synchronously at periods of ~20 years and 40–100 years. This quasi-periodic multi-decadal temperature fluctuation persisted throughout the last millennium, and is likely to continue into the future.” Takuro Kobashi, Jeffrey P. Severinghaus, Jean-Marc Barnola, Kenji Kawamura, Tara Carter and Tosiyuki Nakaegawa, Climatic Change, Volume 100, Numbers 3-4, 733-756, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-009-9689-9. [Full text]

Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007 – Box et al. (2009) “Meteorological station records and regional climate model output are combined to develop a continuous 168-yr (1840–2007) spatial reconstruction of monthly, seasonal, and annual mean Greenland ice sheet near-surface air temperatures. Independent observations are used to assess and compensate for systematic errors in the model output. Uncertainty is quantified using residual nonsystematic error. Spatial and temporal temperature variability is investigated on seasonal and annual time scales. It is found that volcanic cooling episodes are concentrated in winter and along the western ice sheet slope. Interdecadal warming trends coincide with an absence of major volcanic eruptions. Year 2003 was the only year of 1840–2007 with a warm anomaly that exceeds three standard deviations from the 1951–80 base period. The annual whole ice sheet 1919–32 warming trend is 33% greater in magnitude than the 1994–2007 warming. The recent warming was, however, stronger along western Greenland in autumn and southern Greenland in winter. Spring trends marked the 1920s warming onset, while autumn leads the 1994–2007 warming. In contrast to the 1920s warming, the 1994–2007 warming has not surpassed the Northern Hemisphere anomaly. An additional 1.0°–1.5°C of annual mean warming would be needed for Greenland to be in phase with the Northern Hemispheric pattern. Thus, it is expected that the ice sheet melt rates and mass deficit will continue to grow in the early twenty-first century as Greenland’s climate catches up with the Northern Hemisphere warming trend and the Arctic climate warms according to global climate model predictions.” Box, Jason E., Lei Yang, David H. Bromwich, Le-Sheng Bai, 2009: Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007*. J. Climate, 22, 4029–4049, doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI2816.1.

Greenland ice sheet surface temperature, melt and mass loss: 2000-06 – Hall et al. (2008) “A daily time series of ‘clear-sky’ surface temperature has been compiled of the Greenland ice sheet (GIS) using 1 km resolution moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) land-surface temperature (LST) maps from 2000 to 2006. We also used mass-concentration data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to study mass change in relationship to surface melt from 2003 to 2006. The mean LST of the GIS increased during the study period by ∼0.27°C a−1. The increase was especially notable in the northern half of the ice sheet during the winter months. Melt-season length and timing were also studied in each of the six major drainage basins. Rapid (<15 days) and sustained mass loss below 2000 m elevation was triggered in 2004 and 2005 as recorded by GRACE when surface melt begins. Initiation of large-scale surface melt was followed rapidly by mass loss. This indicates that surface meltwater is flowing rapidly to the base of the ice sheet, causing acceleration of outlet glaciers, thus highlighting the metastability of parts of the GIS and the vulnerability of the ice sheet to air-temperature increases. If air temperatures continue to rise over Greenland, increased surface melt will play a large role in ice-sheet mass loss.” Hall, Dorothy K.; Williams, Richard S.; Luthcke, Scott B.; Digirolamo, Nicolo E., Journal of Glaciology, Volume 54, Number 184, January 2008 , pp. 81-93(13). [Full text]

Comparison of satellite-derived and in-situ observations of ice and snow surface temperatures over Greenland – Hall et al. (2008) “The most practical way to get spatially broad and continuous measurements of the surface temperature in the data-sparse cryosphere is by satellite remote sensing. The uncertainties in satellite-derived LSTs must be understood to develop internally-consistent decade-scale land surface temperature (LST) records needed for climate studies. In this work we assess satellite-derived “clear-sky” LST products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), and LSTs derived from the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) over snow and ice on Greenland. When possible, we compare satellite-derived LSTs with in-situ air temperature observations from Greenland Climate Network (GC-Net) automatic weather stations (AWS). We find that MODIS, ASTER and ETM+ provide reliable and consistent LSTs under clear-sky conditions and relatively-flat terrain over snow and ice targets over a range of temperatures from − 40 to 0 °C. The satellite-derived LSTs agree within a relative RMS uncertainty of ~ 0.5 °C. The good agreement among the LSTs derived from the various satellite instruments is especially notable since different spectral channels and different retrieval algorithms are used to calculate LST from the raw satellite data. The AWS record in-situ data at a “point” while the satellite instruments record data over an area varying in size from: 57 × 57 m (ETM+), 90 × 90 m (ASTER), or to 1 × 1 km (MODIS). Surface topography and other factors contribute to variability of LST within a pixel, thus the AWS measurements may not be representative of the LST of the pixel. Without more information on the local spatial patterns of LST, the AWS LST cannot be considered valid ground truth for the satellite measurements, with RMS uncertainty ~ 2 °C. Despite the relatively large AWS-derived uncertainty, we find LST data are characterized by high accuracy but have uncertain absolute precision.” Dorothy K. Hall, Jason E. Box, Kimberly A. Casey, Simon J. Hook, Christopher A. Shuman and Konrad Steffen, Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 112, Issue 10, 15 October 2008, Pages 3739-3749, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2008.05.007. [Full text]

Greenland warming of 1920–1930 and 1995–2005 – Chylek et al. (2006) “We provide an analysis of Greenland temperature records to compare the current (1995–2005) warming period with the previous (1920–1930) Greenland warming. We find that the current Greenland warming is not unprecedented in recent Greenland history. Temperature increases in the two warming periods are of a similar magnitude, however, the rate of warming in 1920–1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995–2005.” Chylek, P., M. K. Dubey, and G. Lesins (2006), Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L11707, doi:10.1029/2006GL026510. [Full text]

Upper-air temperatures around Greenland: 1964–2005 – Box & Cohen (2006) “A 42-year collection of 12h balloon soundings from six sites surrounding Greenland reveal distinct patterns of tropospheric and stratospheric temperature variability. Seasonal mean upper-air temperatures exhibit statistically significant correlations with surface air temperature records. Over the full 1964–2005 record, patterns of statistically significant tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling are evident. Overall, the magnitude of warming decreases with height, becoming cooling in the mid-stratosphere. During the recent 12-year period (1994–2005) lacking major volcanic forcing, statistically significant warming (+2.5 K to +5 K) is evident throughout the troposphere at all sites, with seasonal changes in the +3 K to +9 K range near the surface at 1000 hPa. The recent (1994–2005) tropospheric warming has dominated the 1964–2005 lower troposphere temperature change, despite 1964–1982 upper-tropospheric cooling.” Box, J. E., and A. E. Cohen (2006), Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L12706, doi:10.1029/2006GL025723. [Full text]

Extending Greenland temperature records into the late eighteenth century – Vinther et al. (2006) “At present, continuous instrumental temperature records for Greenland reach back to the late nineteenth century at a few sites. Combining early observational records from locations along the south and west coasts, it has been possible to extend the overall record back to the year 1784. The new extended Greenland temperature record is 9% incomplete. There are, however, sufficient new data (an additional 74 complete winters and 52 complete summers) to provide a valuable indication of late eighteenth century and nineteenth century seasonal trends. Comparison of the previously published records with additional observational series digitized from Danish Meteorological Institute Yearbooks has also revealed inhomogeneities in some of the existing twentieth century temperature records. These problems have been eliminated in the new extended Greenland temperature record. A long homogeneous west Greenland instrumental temperature record is of great value for the interpretation of the growing number of Greenland ice core records. A first comparison of the new record with highly resolved Greenland ice core data is presented. Correlations between west Greenland winter temperatures and the ice core winter season proxy are found to be r = 0.67 and r = 0.60 for the periods 1785–1872 and 1873–1970, respectively.” Vinther, B. M., K. K. Andersen, P. D. Jones, K. R. Briffa, and J. Cappelen (2006), J. Geophys. Res., 111, D11105, doi:10.1029/2005JD006810. [Full text]

Ratio of the Greenland to global temperature change: Comparison of observations and climate modeling results – Chylek & Lohmann (2005) “Temperature changes over Greenland are of special interest due to a possible melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and resulting sea level rise. General Circulation Models (GCMs) predict that the temperature changes in Greenland should proceed at a faster rate than the global temperature change. Until now there has been no confirmation that Greenland’s long-term temperature changes are related to the global warming and that they proceed faster than the global temperature change. Using double correlations between the Greenland temperature records, North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index and global temperature change we find a region of Greenland that is not affected by the NAO. Using this region as an indicator of Greenland’s temperature change that is related to global warming, we find that the ratio of the Greenland to global temperature change due to global warming is 2.2 in broad agreement with GCM predictions.” Chylek, P., and U. Lohmann (2005), Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L14705, doi:10.1029/2005GL023552.

Global Warming and the Greenland Ice Sheet – Chylek et al. (2004) “The Greenland coastal temperatures have followed the early 20th century global warming trend. Since 1940, however, the Greenland coastal stations data have undergone predominantly a cooling trend. At the summit of the Greenland ice sheet the summer average temperature has decreased at the rate of 2.2 °C per decade since the beginning of the measurements in 1987. This suggests that the Greenland ice sheet and coastal regions are not following the current global warming trend. A considerable and rapid warming over all of coastal Greenland occurred in the 1920s when the average annual surface air temperature rose between 2 and 4 °C in less than ten years (at some stations the increase in winter temperature was as high as 6 °C). This rapid warming, at a time when the change in anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases was well below the current level, suggests a high natural variability in the regional climate. High anticorrelations (r = –0.84 to–0.93) between the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) index and Greenland temperature time series suggest a physical connection between these processes. Therefore, the future changes in the NAO and Northern Annular Mode may be of critical consequence to the future temperature forcing of the Greenland ice sheet melt rates.” Petr Chylek, Jason E. Box and Glen Lesins, Climatic Change, Volume 63, Numbers 1-2, 201-221, DOI: 10.1023/B:CLIM.0000018509.74228.03. [Full text]

Recent cooling in coastal southern Greenland and relation with the North Atlantic Oscillation – Hanna & Cappelen (2003) “Analysis of new data for eight stations in coastal southern Greenland, 1958–2001, shows a significant cooling (trend-line change −1.29°C for the 44 years), as do sea-surface temperatures in the adjacent part of the Labrador Sea, in contrast to global warming (+0.53°C over the same period). The land and sea temperature series follow similar patterns and are strongly correlated but with no obvious lead/lag either way. This cooling is significantly inversely correlated with an increased phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) over the past few decades (r = −0.76), and will probably have significantly affected the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet.” Hanna, E., and J. Cappelen (2003), Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(3), 1132, doi:10.1029/2002GL015797. [Full text]

Survey of Greenland instrumental temperature records: 1873–2001 – Box (2002) “Temporal and spatial variability are analysed in Greenland instrumental temperature records from 24 coastal and three ice sheet locations. Trends over the longest period available, 1873–2001, at Ilulissat/Jakobshavn indicate statistically significant warming in all seasons: 5°C in winter. Trends over the 1901–2000 century in southern Greenland indicate statistically significant spring and summer cooling. General periods of warming occurred from 1885 to 1947 and 1984 to 2001, and cooling occurred from 1955 to 1984. The standard period 1961–90 was marked by 1–2°C statistically significant cooling. In contrast to Northern Hemisphere mean temperatures, the 1990s do not contain the warmest years on record in Greenland. The warmest years in Greenland were 1932, 1947, 1960, and 1941. The coldest years were 1918, 1984, 1993, and 1972, several of which coincide with major volcanic eruptions. Over 1991–2000, statistically significant 2–4°C warming was observed in western Greenland, 1.1°C warming at the ice sheet summit (3200 m), although this is statistically insignificant. Annual temperature trends are dominated by winter variability. Much of the observed variability is shown to be linked with the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), sea ice extent, and volcanism. The correlation of coastal temperature anomalies with the NAO is statistically significant, in autumn and winter at western and southern sites. Warming from 1873 to 1930 and subsequent cooling persists after the removal of the NAO signal. Temperature trends are often opposite between west and east Greenland. This apparent teleconnection is spurious, however, given insignificant east–west correlation values. Frequency peaks correspond with periods of 3.7, 14.3, 9.1, 5.5–6.0, 11.1, and 7.1 years in both temperature and NAO.” Jason E. Box, International Journal of Climatology, Volume 22, Issue 15, pages 1829–1847, December 2002, DOI: 10.1002/joc.852. [Full text]

Past Temperatures Directly from the Greenland Ice Sheet – Dahl-Jensen et al. (1998) “A Monte Carlo inverse method has been used on the temperature profiles measured down through the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) borehole, at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Dye 3 borehole 865 kilometers farther south. The result is a 50,000-year-long temperature history at GRIP and a 7000-year history at Dye 3. The Last Glacial Maximum, the Climatic Optimum, the Medieval Warmth, the Little Ice Age, and a warm period at 1930 A.D. are resolved from the GRIP reconstruction with the amplitudes -23 kelvin, +2.5 kelvin, +1 kelvin, -1 kelvin, and +0.5 kelvin, respectively. The Dye 3 temperature is similar to the GRIP history but has an amplitude 1.5 times larger, indicating higher climatic variability there. The calculated terrestrial heat flow density from the GRIP inversion is 51.3 milliwatts per square meter.” D. Dahl-Jensen, K. Mosegaard, N. Gundestrup, G. D. Clow, S. J. Johnsen, A. W. Hansen, N. Balling, Science 9 October 1998: Vol. 282. no. 5387, pp. 268 – 271, DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5387.268. [Full text]

Variability of AVHRR-Derived Clear-Sky Surface Temperature over the Greenland Ice Sheet – Stroeve & Steffen (1998) “The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer is used to derive surface temperatures for one satellite pass under clear skies over the Greenland ice sheet from 1989 through 1993. The results of these temperatures are presented as monthly means, and their spatial and temporal variability are discussed. Accuracy of the dry snow surface temperatures is estimated to be better than 1 K during summer. This error is expected to increase during polar night due to problems in cloud identification. Results indicate the surface temperature of the Greenland ice sheet is strongly dominated by topography, with minimum surface temperatures associated with the high elevation regions. In the summer, maximum surface temperatures occur during July along the western coast and southern tip of the ice sheet. Minimum temperatures are found at the summit during summer and move farther north during polar night. Large interannual variability in surface temperatures occurs during winter associated with katabatic storm events. Summer temperatures show little variation, although 1992 stands out as being colder than the other years. The reason for the lower temperatures during 1992 is believed to be a result of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.” Stroeve, Julienne, Konrad Steffen, 1998, J. Appl. Meteor., 37, 23–31. doi: 10.1175/1520-0450(1998)0372.0.CO;2. [Full text]

Recent warming in central Greenland? – Alley & Koci (1990) “Recent warming has occurred in near-surface firn in central Greenland, as shown by analysis of a 217m temperature profile from the GISP2 site. However, this warming falls within the range of natural variability and provides no clear evidence of a greenhouse signal.”
Alley, Richard B.; Koci, Bruce R., Annals of Glaciology, vol.14, pp.6-8, 1990. [Full text]

The climate of Greenland – Putnins (1970) As described by Box (2002): “Temperatures around Greenland have been analysed between 1880 and 1955 by Putnins (1970)… Putnins (1970) identified five temperature trend periods: 1880–95, 1895–1909, 1909–29, 1929–43, and 1943–55. The most consistent period was 1909–29, when steady warming occurred. Significant cooling is said to have occurred at all stations during 1929–43. The 1943–55 period was characterized by warming, except at Upernavik.” Putnins P. 1970. In Climates of the Polar Regions, Orvig S (ed.). World Survey of Climatology, 14. Elsevier: 3–113.


2 Responses to “Papers on Greenland temperature”

  1. Ari Jokimäki said

    I added Alley & Koci (1990).

  2. Ari Jokimäki said

    I added Kobashi et al. (2011), Masson-Delmotte et al. (2012), and Hall et al. (2012).

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