Greenland Climate Scientist Dies During Record-Breaking Snow/Ice Gains

[Article originally posted on on Aug 15, 2020]

Konrad Steffen was one of the world’s leading voices on global warming. I would regularly run into his research, and although I didn’t agree with the majority of his conclusions, the man’s dedication to his work was admirable.

Steffen, the Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, died at the age of 68 on Saturday (Aug 8). He worked on global warming for more than 40 years, focusing on its impacts on the Arctic and Antarctic, reads an official statement.

Steffen’s decades-long research in Greenland “confirmed that global warming is causing Greenland’s ice sheet to melt with increasing speed,” reports the NYT.

However, what the NYT article fails to point out is that Steffen’s tragic death occurred during Greenland’s ongoing recording-smashing snow/ice gains.

Police investigators said Steffen had fallen into a crevasse in the ice and drowned in the deep water below. However, the crevasse was a known hazard to Steffen, located not far from his outpost, and as fellow scientist at the station, Jason Box, pointed out: high winds and record summer snowfall had made visibility poor and landmarks harder to spot.

Dr. Steffen built his Greenland outpost in 1990, and over time he made it a destination for journalists and political leaders, providing them with a “front row seat to climate change”.

One visitor, former VP Al Gore, posted a tweet on Monday stating that “Koni’s renowned work as a glaciologist has been instrumental in the world’s deepened understanding of the climate crisis.”

Dr. Steffen believed the accumulating risks of climate change had not yet sunk in with the public. If people hear projections that warming will increase by two degrees by the year 2100, he said, they might dismiss it, saying ‘two degrees is not so bad.’

But that is only the start, he warned: “Sorry,” he said. “It won’t stop there. The melting won’t stop there. The curve gets steeper and steeper.”

Well, not this year Steffan…

The Greenland ice sheet should ordinarily be LOSING 4 gigatons a day in mid-August, but instead it’s currently GAINING never-before-seen volumes of snow/ice–accelerating the trend of growth witnessed over recent years.

Denmark’s Polar Portal called it “unseasonally snowy weather” and that “an increase in surface mass balance of 4 gigatons is extreme for the season.”

Since mid-July, the sheet has been recording well-below-average melt, and since the beginning of August it has GAINED mass (approximately 13 gigatons since Aug 10!) — unheard of in summer; and as Jason Box pointed out, this exceptionally snowy event likely attributed to Steffan’s tragic death.

The COLD TIMES are returning, the mid-latitudes are REFREEZING in line with historically low solar activitycloud-nucleating Cosmic Rays, and a meridional jet stream flow (among many other forcings, including the impending release of the Beaufort Gyre).

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