Investigating the local-scale influence of sea ice on Greenland surface melt
Abstract. Rapid decline in Arctic sea ice cover in the 21st century may have wide-reaching effects on the Arctic climate system, including the Greenland ice sheet mass balance. Here, we investigate whether local changes in sea ice around the Greenland ice sheet have had an impact on Greenland surface melt. Specifically, we investigate the relationship between sea ice concentration, the timing of melt onset and open-water fraction surrounding Greenland with ice sheet surface melt using a combination of remote sensing observations, and outputs from a reanalysis model and a regional climate model for the period of 1979–2015. Statistical analysis points to covariability between Greenland ice sheet surface melt and sea ice within Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. While some of this covariance can be explained by simultaneous influence of atmospheric circulation anomalies on both the sea ice cover and Greenland melt, within Baffin Bay we find a modest correlation between detrended melt onset over sea ice and the adjacent ice sheet melt onset. This correlation appears to be related to increased transfer of sensible and latent heat fluxes from the ocean to the atmosphere in early sea ice melt years, increasing temperatures and humidity over the ice sheet that in turn initiate ice sheet melt.