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Clouds Accelerating Greenland Ice Melt

Update Date: Jan 14, 2016 02:49 PM EST

Dense cloud cover over Greenland is accelerating ice melting and adding to rising sea level across the globe.

According to Christian Science Monitor, cloud cover reflects sunlight back to Earth and increases temperature over Greenland's ice sheet by as much as three degrees Fahrenheit. Thirty percent of the sheet's melting can be attributed to rise in temperature by cloud cover.

"Within the last 10 years, NASA launched two satellites that have just completely changed our view of what clouds look like around the planet," L'Ecuyer, from the UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center, said in a press release.

"Once you know what the clouds look like, you know how much sunlight they're going to reflect and how much heat from Earth's surface they're going to keep in."

In a study published in Nature Communications, its authors wrote that the melt water does not refreeze during the night.

"A snowpack is like a frozen sponge that melts during the day," says Van Tricht.

"At night, clear skies make a large amount of melt-water in the sponge refreeze. When the sky is overcast, by contrast, the temperature remains too high and only some of the water refreezes. As a result, the sponge is saturated more quickly and excess melt-water drains away."

The excess water also contributes to greater evaporation in the region and to cloud formation.

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