Weather, Climate and the Atmosphere
The climate is changing in Greenland. Surface and ocean temperatures are on the rise and precipitation is increasing, especially during winter. Changes are characterised by regional variation, which is making the predictability of future scenarios difficult. The period of 2005-2010 was the warmest ever recorded in the arctic region, resulting in longer and dryer summers, retreating sea ice and a decrease in the mass of the Greenland Ice Sheet1. Changes are expected to continue and through research, our ability to track and anticipate them will increase.
Many research projects are grounded in monitoring programmes in which climatic variations are followed over long periods of time. The data collected in these programmes are used in climate models through which it is possible to generate forecasts of potential climate changes. Despite comprehensive research being undertaken, many factors and correlations remain unknown and predictions are characterised by significant uncertainty.
The Greenland Climate Research Centre works with a number of local and regional climate models in the attempt to understand climatic changes in different locations in Greenland. Along with other research institutions, the Centre is engaged in the development of better climate simulation models and strives to improve our understanding of the interaction of the various processes of change. An example is research into the exchange of CO2 between oceans and the atmosphere, which is significant to the physical and chemical processes that impact climate change.
Asiaq, the Greenland Survey, likewise engages in a number of climate-related projects and takes part in monitoring programmes at the research stations in Zackenberg and near Nuuk. The climate monitoring programmes, ClimateBasis and GeoBasis monitor a long list of climate-relevant parameters in the atmosphere, soil and water basins. These include the measurement of surface temperatures, snow coverage, the exchange of greenhouse gasses between soil and air as well as fresh water drainage from land.
In addition, many of the monitoring stations mentioned on The Greenland Ice Sheet, Glaciers and Ice Core Drilling follow changes in temperature and precipitation and contribute data to the larger research institutions both in Greenland and abroad.
1 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, 2011: Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic. AMAP, Oslo.