The story behind the photo 

The cover photo for this report was taken by Steffen Olsen from the Centre for Ocean and Ice at the Danish Meteorological Institute on 13 June 2019 as the research teams were retrieving their oceanographic moorings and weather station equipment. The photo, taken in the Inglefield Bredning Fjord, depicted water on top of what Olsen said was an ice sheet 1.2m thick. Although not unheard of, this phenomenon was described by the team as “unusual” and earlier than expected.

A team of local hunters and scientists from the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) set out to recover climate monitoring stations placed on sea ice in mid-June 2019. During this period of warm days in Inglefield Fjord, North West Greenland, there were temperatures exceeding 17°C. The picture shows rapidly accumulating melt water caused by the sudden and unusually early surface melting of the sea ice. This melting triggered a near-record early breakup of the land-fast sea ice days later. 

The scientific instruments recovered from the fjord hold data from the winter months, key to understanding the future development of winter sea ice in the region but also monitoring the deep warm ocean currents of Atlantic origin making it to the head of the fjord. Here a number of outlet glaciers terminate into the ocean and the data sheds light on the ocean processes contributing to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet adding to global sea level rise.

Local communities rely on the sea ice for transport, hunting and fishing, and extreme events. Climate change poses a challenge to the traditional way of living in the region and calls for predictive capacity in the Arctic. DMI operates a network of weather and climate stations distributed across Greenland and coordinates the international efforts to better predict Arctic weather, climate, and their extremes in the EU Blue-Action program, part of the WMO Polar Prediction Project. The institute plays a central role in monitoring the Arctic from space (OSISAF) and delivering critical operational services to society and stakeholders. DMI works actively with local communities to co-develop Arctic Climate Services (SalienSeas).]