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Greenland Temperatures 2020

June 12, 2021

By Paul Homewood



I mentioned a year ago that the reason for the deficit in ice mass increase during the winter and spring of 2020 was sustained cold and dry weather. (Conversely milder weather tends to bring snow). I also reported how the summer melt began much later than normal.

The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) have now published the official Greenland temperature for last year, bearing this out and showing how cold it really was:



Greenland Surface Mass Ice Balance 2019/20











Note that these are temperature anomalies, and not actuals!

The 2020 plots are not easy to see in some cases, as they are so close to the baseline. For instance, the anomaly at Quaqortoq is just 0.2C:



The clear picture all stations, west and east, is that annual temperatures last year, as well as in the last couple of decades, have been no higher than commonly seen in the 1920s to 40s. [The only exception was the unusually year of 2010].


To get a clearer impression of the actual temperatures, we can take a closer look at the SW Greenland Temperature series, a bit like the CET:



The actual temperatures are: 



Note how extremely cold the 1980s and 90s were, in comparison with most of the 20thC. This naturally skews 1981-2010 averages, which DMI use not just for temperatures but also ice mass, not to mention using 1979 as the baseline for sea ice extent.


Also the 10-year average has been dropping since 2010, and is now comparable to the 1930s and 40s. Indeed it now stands at –0.6C. Between 1930 and 1956, the average never went below this (ie cooler), and apart from 1957 it was to be 1976 before the 10-year average went colder again.


This is clear proof that alarmist talk of Greenland meltdowns has no basis in fact.

  1. June 12, 2021 3:08 pm

    From the first graph it appears to me that Greenland must have been continually losing ice mass from December 2019 until the end of August 2020 simply because the blue line (representing the current ice mass) was below the dark grey line (1981-2010 LTA).

    In the last year 2020-21 (which is also available) although the gap between the two didn’t appear until January 2021, it’s widened in a similar fashion to 2019-20 as we approached June.

    Greenland wouldn’t be losing ice mass if temperatures were below average, so all you can assume is that temperatures have been above average.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      June 12, 2021 5:24 pm

      Can’t claim to understand surface mass balances, but if the final figure is greater than zero surely snow is accumulating: the average accumulation rate seems to be 400 Gt / y. Maybe I misunderstand!

      • June 12, 2021 6:57 pm

        The SMB does not include glacier calving, as DMI explain:

        “The map illustrates how the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet gains and loses mass on a daily basis. This is known as the surface mass balance. It does not include the mass that is lost when glaciers calve off icebergs and melt as they come into contact with warm seawater”

    • June 12, 2021 7:00 pm


      Anything above zero means it is gaining ice. The grey line is merely the 1981-2010 average. However ice mass gain in winter depends entirely on snowfall, and not temperature. Normally mild weather is wet, so snowy.

      Last year it was dominated by high pressure, meaning cold and dry

      Remember that the “average” includes the extra cold 80s and 90s. Current temps are in line with the 1920s to 40s, the last time the AMO was in warm phase. So we need to be careful about using terms such as “average”

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      June 12, 2021 7:03 pm

      No, it shows gaining mass (coldest months typically) until it starts going down around June as melt rate overtakes snow deposits – the grey line is the mean for the stated 30yr period. Resets to zero gain/loss at the start of each hydrological yearly cycle.

      It’s the ice precipitation (snow mostly) v surface melt (and sublimation etc.) mass balance.

      In the exceptional year 2011/12, melt almost equaled deposits over the year – hence the line ends up back close to zero.

      Of course a positive ice mass gain at the end of each year in this graph does not mean that the Greenland ice sheet is not losing mass overall, because mass is also lost from glacier terminus melting/calving etc. too.

      I wouldn’t say last year was cold, just less warm than of late.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        June 12, 2021 7:09 pm

        Why does it take so long for posts to appear – I end up looking like a parrot/idiot who can’t read!

      • June 12, 2021 9:37 pm

        Don’t know!! It was not in the Spam Box

    • bobn permalink
      June 13, 2021 12:05 am

      Remember these DMI mass gain/loss figures are from MODELS. So take with a bunker of salt. They are speculations which may, or may not, be close to reality!
      The actual raw recorded temps at locations are reality.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    June 12, 2021 6:06 pm

    Hi Paul

    Surely “Greenland Temperatures 2020”?

    • June 12, 2021 6:55 pm

      I’m a bit like Martin Peters, but only one year ahead of my time!

      BTW – hate to name call, but I saw him on the airport bus at Gatwick a few years ago!

  3. June 12, 2021 8:39 pm

    Ski season in Australia opens with deep snow

    • Layor nala permalink
      June 12, 2021 10:28 pm

      And New Zealand – despite our Climate Change Commission’s and dear PMs dire predictions.

  4. June 13, 2021 8:57 am

    Lack of a recent El Niño is a growing problem for climate alarmists as these data show. Will nature help them out soon?

    • dave permalink
      June 15, 2021 8:17 am

      “Will Nature help them out soon?”

      Not likely.

      The informed estimate is that the present, neutral, conditions have a 50% chance of continuing for a year, a 45% chance of returning to La Nina, and only a 5% chance of turning into El Nino.

  5. mikewaite permalink
    June 13, 2021 9:00 am

    What is the problem with a warmer Greenland? Some comments that I have read from the Inuit-Danish community there talk about the difficulty in keeping young people there , managing the only major activity , pastoral farming , when the youngsters want to follow other careers like the professions , or business. That means moving to Denmark or one of the Canadian cities. Anything that makes farming more profitable might persuade the young people to stay .
    When the Norse, pastoralists, settled in the East Settlement they chose areas up – fiord in order to escape the maritime climate and enjoy , during summer, a warmer drier Continental type climate , more sutable for hay and grass growth, albeit much nearer the ice cap. A warmer Greenland extends the grass growing period , more cattle, maybe glasshouse horticulture, , greater assets , making farming a more attractive future and keeping generations together.
    A recent paper showed that a Greenland just a few degrees warmer overall had a negligible effect on increasing sea levels from ice cap loss if that is a concern .
    The myth about polar bear losses has been destroyed by the work of eg Susan Crockford . Populations have grown since the ban on hunting , despite continued loss of sea ice.
    So why not a warmer Greenland?

  6. Phoenix44 permalink
    June 13, 2021 12:03 pm

    That looks almost like there’s a cycle!

    Why use short term averages when you have a long record in what might be a phone with cycles? What’s the average if you take say 1860 to 1960? Nice 100 years of two cycles.

  7. June 13, 2021 2:47 pm

    So have the Danes accidentally disproved the carbon dioxide theory of global warming?

    If data going back to over 200 years ago shows at worst marginal changes then clearly there is no direct link with increases in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

    Or am I being too hopeful?

  8. Matt Dalby permalink
    June 15, 2021 12:01 am

    Following on from last years late start to the melt season the DMI Polar Portal reports that this years melt season started bang on average. This means two years running when melting hasn’t started earlier than average, hardly a sign of catastrophic runaway warming.

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