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Monday, August 17, 2009

Greenland's melt ponds (lakes) disappearing from the ice sheet on the western edge near Jakobshavn Glacier

Dear Readers,

Many of you know that I spend a lot of time looking at satellite images of Greenland, almost on a daily basis.

In the past few months, I have spent a lot more time looking in detail at the edges of the ice sheet, all around Greenland, but in particular in the north and the west.

With no little dismay, I noted the increasing number of melt ponds (lakes) all around the edges, even in the far north where we non-scientists might assume that such things could not occur due to the very low temperatures in the far north. However, even in the far north, these melt lakes are occurring with greater and greater frequency.

But, today, I want to write about western Greenland and in particular about the edge of the ice sheet near the Jakobshavn Glacier.

OK, anyone can see that the edge of the ice sheet is retreating. But, lately, there was something else going on, and I just could not put my finger on it -- until today.

A few weeks ago, an enormous number of melt lakes were there in bright blue on the white ice.

Now, many or most of them have emptied out.

You can see the pits they formed as little grayish outlines on the ice sheet.

I have darkened the MODIS satellite photo so that you can see these outlines better. As always, just click on the photo to enlarge the details.

The full image can be found here:

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