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Connecting our current drought to the climate crisis in Greenland

The weather over the Upper Midwest has been extremely dry and now a connection can be made to the climate crisis in Greenland.

Greenland and much of Europe have seen all-time record warmth this Summer. In one July day in Greenland, it's estimated that some 12.5 billion TONS of ice melted. Added up over the month of July, that's enough water to cover the entire state of Florida in six feet of water.

The significant ice melt is being caused by a dramatic shift in the weather pattern over the North Atlantic Ocean. A hot dome of high pressure shifted over Europe and into Greenland causing dramatic warming from Europe, into the North Atlantic Ocean. Last Winter, Greenland had less snow than normal which cover and insulate glacial. That thin layer of snow melted first this Spring, leaving darker exposed and able to absorb more of the sun's heat.

With a weather pattern that is dominated by high pressure, no additional snow or cloud cover is able to shield Greenland, causing the process to "snowball" out of control.Some climate scientists have drawn conclusions that this type of melting was not forecast to occur until the year 2070!

As the freshwater ice of Greenland melts, it creates massive rivers and floes that have a direct result of increasing sea levels. According to NASA, sea level rise could be seen much faster than previous thought, having a bigger impact on coastal regions.

Back here at home, there are connections that can be made between the melt-off in Greenland and our drought conditions.

As long as high pressure remains over Greenland, a pattern of low pressure remains stuck over the eastern part of Canada. This creates more unsettled and unusually stormy weather for Central and Eastern Canada. Here in the Midwest, less rainfall occurs under high pressure. With this pattern remaining in place, it's not likely we will receive drought-busting rains making it likely that drought conditions will continue to worsen.

Current National Drought Monitor

How long will this last?

That's really hard to tell. It's really out of the ordinary for this long-wave pattern to be so stagnant to begin with. Typically, there are five areas of high and low pressure in the high latitudes that are transient around the Earth, affecting a particular area every 5-7 days or so. This is what drives big weather patterns across the mid-latitudes where we live.

A NWS photo a five planetary-wave pattern.

In the current situation, a high pressure ridge remains steadfast over Greenland. Our long-range computer model guidance suggests that the pattern will remain in place through the next month. This will not only cause Greenland melting to continue on its incredible rate, but also prolong the drought conditions in the Midwest.

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