Rainfall at the Greenland ice sheet Summit 14 August 2021, was delivered by an atmospheric river (AR). Extreme surface ablation expanded the all-Greenland bare ice area to near-record-high with snowline climbing up to 788 ± 90 m. Ice sheet wet snow extent reached 46%, a record high for the 15–31 August AMSR data since 2003. Heat-driven firn deflation averaged 0.14 ± 0.05 m at four accumulation area automatic weather stations (AWSs). Energy budget calculations from AWS data indicate that surface heating from rainfall is much smaller than from either the sensible, latent, net-longwave or solar energy fluxes. Sensitivity tests show that without the heat-driven snow-darkening, melt at 1,840 m would have totaled 28% less. Similarly, at 1,270 m elevation, without the bare ice exposure, melting would have been 51% less. Proglacial river discharge was the highest on record since 2006 for late August and confirms the melt-sustaining effect of the albedo feedback.
- albedo feedback
- atmospheric river
- Greenland ice sheet
- rain on snow
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate