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TitleSummer melt rates on Penny Ice Cap, Baffin Island: Past and recent trends and implications for regional climate
AuthorZdanowicz, C; Smetny-Sowa, A; Fisher, D; Schaffer, N; Copland, L; Eley, J; Dupont, F
SourceJournal of Geophysical Research, Earth Surface vol. 117, issue F2, 2012 p. F02006,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20110335
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
NTS26I; 16L
AreaBaffin Island
Lat/Long WENS -66.5000 -64.0000 67.0000 66.0000
SubjectsNature and Environment; climate, arctic; climate effects; ice; ice conditions; core samples; core analysis; mass wasting; Penny Ice Cap
Illustrationslocation maps; histograms; graphs; stratigraphic columns; plots; tables
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience
Released2012 04 10
AbstractAt a latitude of 66 N, Penny Ice Cap on Baffin Island is the southernmost large ice cap in the Canadian Arctic. Here we present a synthesis of local climatological observations, surface mass balance measurements and proxy climate data from cores drilled on the ice cap over five decades (1953 to 2011). We find that since the late 1980s, Penny Ice Cap has entered a phase of enhanced melt rates related to rising summer and winter air temperatures across the eastern Arctic. Surface melt rates at the summit of the ice cap are now close to 100 %, and comparable to those last experienced more than 3000 years ago. Enhanced surface melt, water percolation and refreezing have led to a downward transfer of latent heat that has raised the subsurface firn temperature by ~10 C (at 10 m depth) since the mid-1990s. This process may accelerate further meltdown of the ice cap by pre-conditionning the firn for the ensuing melt season. The recent warming in the Baffin regiin has been larger in winter but more regular in summer, and observations on Penny Ice Cap suggest that is has been relatively uniform over an elevation range of ~2 km. Our findings are consistent with trends in glacier mass wastage in the Canadian High Arctic and with regional sea-ice cover reduction, reinforcing the view that the Arctic appears to be reverting back to a thermal state not seen in millennia.

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