Refreezing of meltwater in firn is a major component of Greenland ice-sheet's mass budget, but in situ observations are rare. Here, we compare the firn density and total ice layer thickness in the upper 15 m of 19 new and 27 previously published firn cores drilled at 15 locations in southwest Greenland (1850–2360 m a.s.l.) between 1989 and 2019. At all sites, ice layer thickness covaries with density over time and space. At the two sites with the earliest observations (1989 and 1998), bulk density increased by 15–18%, in the top 15 m over 28 and 21 years, respectively. However, following the extreme melt in 2012, elevation-detrended density using 30 cores from all sites decreased by 15 kg m−3 a−1 in the top 3.75 m between 2013 and 2019. In contrast, the lowest elevation site's density shows no trend. Thus, temporary build-up in firn pore space and meltwater infiltration capacity is possible despite the long-term increase in Greenland ice-sheet melting.