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Idaho Professor Witnesses Historic Ice Melt In Greenland

University of Idaho

University of Idaho geography professor Von Walden was among a group of scientists who were witness to a historic ice melt in Greenland last July.

What Von Walden and his fellow scientists saw in Greenland last summer—a weather event that resulted in 97 percent of Greenland’s Ice Sheet rising to temperatures above the freezing point—doesn’t happen every day.  “It’s really a remarkable event. The last time that the surface snow melted at this location was 1889.”

Professor Walden and his research team analyzed the data they gathered at Summit Station and the result is a cover story in the journal Nature. Walden says warm air and the cloud cover over Greenland were keys to the event.

He is principal investigator for the ICECAPS project, which studies how the cloudy atmosphere impacts the central Greenland Ice Sheet.  “What happens with our data—we’re hoping that they will be used to improve weather and climate models, forecasting models.”

Walden says the hope is that these tools give policy makers a glimpse into the future as they plan for that future.

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