Yesterday, DailyTech covered
shocking allegations by an esteemed sea-level expert that the IPCC
modified climate data and committed other violations in an
attempt to falsely portray accelerating sea level rising. If
true, perhaps the IPCC should have learned to be more
Greenland's melt is accelerating, according to a new
study published as part of long-ongoing research at the Colorado
University at Boulder on climate change. In 2007, the summer
melt record was surpassed by 10%. CU Boulder notes that record
breaking melts are nothing
new to Greenland; the last 20 years have brought 6 record melts,
with record melts in 1987, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2007.
base cause is clearly a surface air temperature rise. Since
1991, extensive data shows that temperatures over Greenland's ice
sheet increased approximately 7 degrees Fahrenheit on average.
report by CU Boulder seemed objective and balanced in its
observations. It helpfully noted that the ice level actually
had increased slightly at higher elevations due to increased snowfall
over the past decade, however, it noted that this increase was not
enough to offset the sharply escalating melting.
Konrad Steffen, director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in
Environmental Sciences which headed the study, gave a presentation on
his team's research to the American Geophysical Union held in San
Francisco from Dec. 10 to Dec. 14. The paper that the
presentation is based on, titled "Melt season duration and ice
layer formation on the Greenland ice sheet," was published in
the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysics Research and is available
At the presentation, Professor Steffen put the
melt in context saying, "The amount of ice lost by Greenland
over the last year is the equivalent of two times all the ice in the
Alps, or a layer of water more than one-half mile deep covering
Professor Steffen explained how his
team used Defense Meteorology Satellite Program's Special Sensor
Microwave Imager aboard several military and weather satellites to
map the melt. Professor Steffen supplemented this data with
polled data transmitted via satellite from 22 stations on the
Greenland ice sheet known as the Greenland Climate Network, which he
and the University personally maintain.
Lubrication from the
melting is one important factor that is speeding up the melt, as
explained in Professor Steffen's research. He stated, "The
more lubrication there is under the ice, the faster that ice moves to
the coast. Those glaciers with floating ice 'tongues' also will
increase in iceberg production."
If global warming
critics or believers hope to use the melt as a quick smoking gun to
prove sea level change, they shouldn't hold their breath.
Greenland is slowly and steadily contributing 0.5 mm of world sea
level in melt water a year. If all of Greenland's ice sheet
melted, it is estimated that it would raise the global sea levels 21
feet, but for now it is just gradually raising them with time.
However, deep tunnels in the ice known as moulins are
speeding the rate at which water is evacuated into the sea.
With record melts, glacier lubrication, and these tunneling phenomena
Professor Stephen expects the current yearly sea level contribution
of 0.5 mm/yr to quickly rise.
He thinks that IPCC may have
missed the boat on both ends -- overestimating sea level rise now,
and underestimating future sea rise for the remainder of the
century. Professor Steffens has publicly stated that based on
his understanding of Greenland's current melting process that sea
level rise will significantly beat the estimates for 21st century sea
level rise made by the IPCC Panel held in 2007.
Steffens works for CIRES, which is a joint venture of CU Boulder and
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He
and his team will continue to provide a voice of scientific reason in
the global debate over whether melting is increasing
with his team's diligent analysis of melting in Greenland.
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quote: Where does the myth come from? Naturally enough, there is a kernel of truth behind it all. Firstly, there was a trend of cooling from the 40's to the 70's (although that needs to be qualified, as hemispheric or global temperature datasets were only just beginning to be assembled then). But people were well aware that extrapolating such a short trend was a mistake (Mason, 1976) . Secondly, it was becoming clear that ice ages followed a regular pattern and that interglacials (such as we are now in) were much shorter that the full glacial periods in between. Somehow this seems to have morphed (perhaps more in the popular mind than elsewhere) into the idea that the next ice age was predicatable and imminent. Thirdly, there were concerns about the relative magnitudes of aerosol forcing (cooling) and CO2 forcing (warming), although this latter strand seems to have been short lived.The state of the science at the time (say, the mid 1970's), based on reading the papers is, in summary: "…we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without the fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climate…" (which is taken directly from NAS, 1975). In a bit more detail, people were aware of various forcing mechanisms - the ice age cycle; CO2 warming; aerosol cooling - but didn't know which would be dominant in the near future. By the end of the 1970's, though, it had become clear that CO2 warming would probably be dominant; that conclusion has subsequently strengthened.
quote: Since 1991, extensive data shows that temperatures over Greenland's ice sheet increased approximately 7 degrees Fahrenheit on average.
quote: Lubrication from the melting is one important factor that is speeding up the melt, as explained in Professor Steffen's research. He stated, "The more lubrication there is under the ice, the faster that ice moves to the coast.
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quote: Magma May Be Melting Greenland Ice...clues to a new natural contribution to the melt arose when scientists discovered a thin spot in the Earth’s crust under the northeast corner of the Greenland Ice Sheet...