Campus News

Climate scientist discusses monumental rain event in Greenland

Thomas Mote, associate dean in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ geography department, joined a conversation with other climate scientists in the New York Times about rain falling inside the Arctic circle summit for the first time.

This monumental event occurred on Aug. 14, 2021, marking the first time it has ever rained at the Summit of Greenland, located 2 miles up and 500 miles above the Arctic Circle. Rain events began to be recorded in the 1980s, but computer simulations going back even further show no evidence of rain ever falling in this region, Mote described.

In fact, it’s even rare for the area to be above freezing, occurring only three times in the last 10 years.

“But these events seem to be happening more and more frequently,” said Mote. “And that tells the story that we are seeing real evidence of climate change in Greenland.”

Greenland has been a token in the climate change narrative, providing visual evidence of the receding ice sheet. Over the past 20 years, Greenland has lost more than 300 billion tons of ice each year.

Mote said peak melting typically occurs in mid-July, and “by the time you get to the middle of August, you’re usually seeing a rapid retreat of melt activity and a decline of temperature.” That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.