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Snowmelt on the Greenland Ice Sheet as Derived From Passive Microwave Satellite DataThe melt extent of the snow on the Greenland ice sheet is of considerable importance to the ice sheet's mass and energy balance, as well as Arctic and global climates. By comparing passive microwave satellite data to field observations, variations in melt extent have been detected by establishing melt thresholds in the cross-polarized gradient ratio (XPGR). The XPGR, defined as the normalized difference between the 19-GHz horizontal channel and the 37-GHz vertical channel of the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I), exploits the different effects of snow wetness on different frequencies and polarizations and establishes a distinct melt signal. Using this XPGR melt signal, seasonal and interannual variations in snowmelt extent of the ice sheet are studied. The melt is found to be most extensive on the western side of the ice sheet and peaks in late July. Moreover, there is a notable increasing trend in melt area between the years 1979 and 1991 of 4.4% per year, which came to an abrupt halt in 1992 after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. A similar trend is observed in the temperatures at six coastal stations. The relationship between the warming trend and increasing melt trend between 1979 and 1991 suggests that a 1 C temperature rise corresponds to an increase in melt area of 73000 sq km, which in general exceeds one standard deviation of the natural melt area variability.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Abdalati, Waleed (Universities Space Research Association Greenbelt, MD United States)
Steffen, Konrad (Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1997
Publication Information
Publication: Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes Research Publications
Subject Category
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
Distribution Limits