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Climate change: Greenland melting tied to shrinking Arctic sea ice

Vanishing Arctic sea ice. Dogged weather systems over Greenland. Far-flung surface ice melting on the massive island.

These dramatic trends and global sea-level rise are linked, according to a study coauthored by Jennifer Francis, a research professor in Rutgers University’s Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

During Greenland summers, melting Arctic sea ice favors stronger and more frequent “blocking-high” pressure systems, which spin clockwise, stay largely in place and can block cold, dry Canadian air from reaching the island. The highs tend to enhance the flow of warm, moist air over Greenland, contributing to increased extreme heat events and surface ice melting, according to the study.

That, in turn, fuels sea-level rise, said Francis, who called rising seas a “monstrous” issue for coastal communities around the world. The increased melting on the Greenland ice sheet in recent years may also be linked to cooler-than-normal ocean temperatures south of the island, slowing ocean circulation.

The study, published online in the Journal of Climate last month, tapped computer models and measurements in the field.

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