The Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier (the 79 fjord, henceforth referred to as 79N) has been thinning and accelerating since the early 2000s, as a result of calving episodes at the front of the glacier. As 8% of the Greenland Ice Sheet area drains into 79N, changes in the stability of 79N could propagate into the interior of Greenland. Despite this concern, relatively little is known about the atmospheric conditions over 79N. We present the surface atmospheric processes and climatology of the 79N region from analyses of data from four automatic weather stations (AWS) and reanalysis data from ERA-Interim. Over the floating section of the glacier, the annual average air temperature is ±16.7°C, decreasing to ±28.5°C during winter. Winds over the glacier are predominantly westerly and are of katabatic origin. Over the last 39 years the near-surface air temperature has increased at a rate of +0.08°C yr -1. In addition, we find that large, rapid (48 h) temperature increases ( > 10°C) occur during the five-month dark period (November-March). Eight (±4) warm-air events occur annually from 1979 to 2017. We use the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model to simulate a particular warm-air event with above-freezing air temperatures between 30 November and 2 December 2014. The warm event was caused by warm-air advection from the southeast and a subsequent increase in the longwave radiation toward the surface due to low-level cloud formation. The frequent nature of the temperature jumps and the magnitude of the temperature increases are likely to have an impact on the surface mass balance of the glacier by bringing the skin temperatures to the melting point.
- Programområde 5: Natur og klima