Observations of pronounced Greenland ice sheet firn warming and implications for runoff production



Field measurements of shallow borehole temperatures in firn across the northern Greenland ice sheet are collected during May 2013. Sites first measured in 1952–1955 are revisited, showing long-term trends in firn temperature. Results indicate a pattern of substantial firn warming (up to +5.7°C) at midlevel elevations (1400–2500 m) and little temperature change at high elevations (>2500 m). We find that latent heat transport into the firn due to meltwater percolation drives the observed warming. Modeling shows that heat is stored at depth for several years, and energy delivered from consecutive melt events accumulates in the firn. The observed warming is likely not yet in equilibrium with recent melt production rates but captures the progression of sites in the percolation facies toward net runoff production.