Spaceborne estimated long-term trends (1980s2013) of albedo and melting season length over the Greenland ice sheet and linkages to climate drivers

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 5:15 PM
122BC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Marco Tedesco, City College, New York, NY; and J. Stroeve

The length of the melting season and surface albedo modulate the amount of meltwater produced over the Greenland ice sheet. The two quantities are intimately connected through a suite of non-linear processes: for example, early melting can reduce the surface albedo (through constructive grain size metamorphism), hence affecting the surface energy balance and further increasing melting. Over the past years, several studies have highlighted increased melting concurring, with a decrease of mean surface albedo over Greenland. However, few studies have examined the duration of the melting season, its implication for surface processes and linkages to climate drivers. Moreover, the majority (if not all) of the studies assessing albedo trends from spaceborne data over Greenland have focused on the last decade or so (2000 2013) because they use data collected over the same period by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Here, we evaluate and synthesize long-term trends in the length of the melting season (1979 - 2013) derived from spaceborne microwave observations together with surface albedo trends for the period 1982 2013 using data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). To our knowledge, this is the first time that trends in Greenland albedo and melt season length are discussed for the periods considered in this study. Our results point to a lengthening of the melting season as a consequence of earlier melt onset and later refreeze and to a decrease of mean albedo (1982 2013) over the Greenland ice sheet, with trends being spatially variable. To account for this spatial variability, the results of an analysis at regional scales over 12 different regions (defined by elevation and drainage systems) are also reported. The robustness of the results is evaluated by means of a comparative analysis of the results obtained from both AVHRR and MODIS when overlapping data are available (2000 2013). Lastly, because large-scale circulation patterns and climate drivers can impact the amount of meltwater produced over Greenland (hence impacting albedo), we discuss the observed trends in the context of North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Greenland Blocking Index (GBI) using a combination of regional climate model outputs and re-analysis data.