Friday, July 6, 2018
Still Snowy - Quelccaya and beyond
The Cordillera Vilcanota remains snowy, as illustrated by the Sentinel-2 image above from 4 July. Snowcover at high elevations, on south-facing slopes, and on glaciers has changed very little over the past month. At Quelccaya Ice Cap, bare ice is exposed only at the lowest elevations of outlet glaciers (e.g., Qori Kalis, on west side).
Extensive snowcover on the glacier is keeping the albedo high, minimizing mass loss... at least for the moment.
Quelccaya is not alone in being unseasonally snowy this year. For example, in the Karakoram Mountains (Pakistan) climbing teams on mountains such as K2 are finding dangerous avalanche conditions due to heavy snowfall, during the core climbing season. More details can be found here.
Kilimanjaro is also unusually snowy for July, the result of above-average accumulation during the March-May wet season.
In Northeast Greenland, the winter of 2018 brought twice as much snow as the long-term average, and snowcover into early July remains so extensive that Sanderlings and other shorebirds may not even attempt nesting this year. The late snow is having large consequences for the ecosystem.
Finally, snow on portions of the Greenland Ice Sheet is resulting in the "least surface ice loss in decades". As Jason Box notes via Twitter (@climate_ice), these persistent extremes in patterns of atmospheric circulation are an expected signature of climate change.