Rainfall high on the Greenland Ice Sheet is an emerging phenomenon with consequences for the thermal and structural makeup of the surface layer. We document changes to Greenland's firn column due to a 4-day cold-season warm/rain event. Heavy precipitation occurred with a sudden 30°C increase in air temperature, reaching 0°C at 2,000 m elevation. Thermistor strings within the firn layer across a 35 km transect show rapid warming of 6°–23°C reaching depths of 2–10 m. Antecedent conditions governed the magnitude, duration, and depth-distribution of sensible and latent heat added to the firn column. Heat fluxes from the firn layer required up to 8 weeks to recover to baseline, a significant fraction of the winter period. The amount of liquid water refrozen in the firn column was ∼20%–100% of the prior summer demonstrating the impact of extreme weather events on the ice sheet's evolution and runoff characteristics.
- extreme events
- Greenland ice sheet