News Report “NASA: Sudden Massive Melt in Greenland” – My Comments On This Media Hype

source of image: Greenland Summit Station – the plot is of temperatures at the top of the Greenland icecap for the last 30 days.

The current webcam image from this location can be viewed here.

There is a news report by Seth Borenstein titled

NASA: Sudden Massive Melt in Greenland

which reads in part [headline added]

Nearly all of Greenland’s massive ice sheet suddenly started melting a bit this month, a freak event that surprised scientists.

The ice melt area went from 40 percent of the ice sheet to 97 percent in four days, according to NASA. Until now, the most extensive melt seen by satellites in the past three decades was about 55 percent.

Wagner said researchers don’t know how much of Greenland’s ice melted, but it seems to be freezing again.

Summer in Greenland has been freakishly warm so far. That’s because of frequent high pressure systems that have parked over the island, bringing warm clear weather that melts ice and snow, explained University of Georgia climatologist Thomas Mote.

He and others say it’s similar to the high pressure systems that have parked over the American Midwest bringing record-breaking warmth and drought’

The news headline, in particular, is an example of media hype. There was no “massive melt“. The term “massive” implies that the melt involved large masses of the Greenland icecap. They could have written Sudden Extensive, Short-Term Surface Melting On the Greenland Icecap“, but instead chose to overstate what is a short-term weather event. Melting of surface ice occurs in Greenland whenever there are relatively warm surface air temperatures, as shown in the plot from Summit Station at the top of this post, and sunny skies, as reported by Thomas Mote in Seth’s article.  Almost anytime, sublimation (direct transfer from ice to water vapor) occurs.

There has been widespread media reporting of this melting (e.g. Fox News, MSNBC), but the real news story is the overstatement of this weather event by the media (and some scientists at NASA).  The headline is the biased part of the article, which Seth may not have much control on, but, regardless, this biased misleading headline needs to be identified.

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