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A picture from satellite data highlights the increase in summer melts in Greenland's ice sheet over the decade between 1992 and 2002  (Source: CIRES and CU Boulder)
Greenland's melt is increasing and continues a series of record setting years

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 patient.

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.

The 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.

The 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.

Professor 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 here (PDF).

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 Washington, D.C."

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.

Professor 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 or decreasing, with his team's diligent analysis of melting in Greenland.

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RE: The rest of the story...
By Ringold on 12/12/2007 1:48:19 PM , Rating: 2
Because it is better than helping impoverished nations, lowering the number of AIDS infections in Africa, or generally trying to solve any problem which will not have a return on investment ???

Was that sarcasm?

China is our quickest growing export market here in the United States, and American and Chinese investors both make large sums investing in each others economies. In return America has also enjoyed low inflation for a long time now thanks to shifting low-value labor to low unit labor cost China -- and the rest of South East Asia and India.

Helping an additional 2+ billion people join the global middle class would do infinitely more for America, for Europe, and for man kind than fuel efficiency standards or schemes to throttle Western economic output. That would be 2 billion new customers.

By that time, America would likely more resemble the UK; almost no industry to speak of compared to in the past, but loads of high-value jobs based on skill and knowledge. They've prospered, we could prosper.

The industries spawned by government-subsidized energy programs are also inherently therefore inefficient creations that could, without the helping hand of government, collapse. Industries that are created to service global prosperity would create wealth and be self-sustaining.

As a matter of preference, I prefer paths of growth that reward merit rather than who can get on their knees and beg (among other things) to politicians the fastest and with the most money. That's all alternative energy is, a content who can successfuly get a hold of the most tax-payer dollars to fund their business which couldn't hack it in the real world.

RE: The rest of the story...
By 16nm on 12/12/2007 2:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
That would be 2 billion new customers.

And how could that happen if the world is going to throw money at a problem that scientists are not even sure exists? The answer doesn't matter. Like it or not, this is where money is going. May as well be on the bandwagon than off it... It seems to me there's nothing that reasonable people can do to stop it. Every single day that I turn on my television, there is at least one mention or dicussion concerning global warming and the environment. And it's ALWAYS doom and gloom. It seems the nutjobs (i.e. Al Gore) have really won this one.

I very much dislike Al Gore BTW. He could have the Internet and I hope he doesn't get the environment, either.

RE: The rest of the story...
By Ringold on 12/12/2007 4:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think the GW train is impossible to derail; it would just take time, and further public doubt to be created, enough to kill the most expensive of anti-GW projects.

I'm not sure what you mean by "how could that happen if the world is going to throw money at.." The worlds firms could, and still will, invest in developing countries -- but the money blown fighting an uncertain problem that sits 100 - 200 years in the future, I was trying to suggest, could be better kept in the private sector economy to speed the process along.

The first free-market reforms in China after Mao destroyed virtually everything came in 1978, allowing farmers to sell crop yields in excess of the quota for money, which they could do with as they please, rather than having to give their entire yields to the government. Less than 30 years later, China has gone from nothing to rising superstar.

30 years of focus on developing areas with focused investment and pressure for institution reform to raise 2 billion from poverty, or 100 years of focus on an flimsy concept of what the weather is up to?

All of which was responding to the idea that investment to these sorts of things create no return. They yield massive returns -- working on 11 trillion dollars worth of return in China, at the moment, growing to 37 times its size in 1978 by 2005. That to me seems a more noble and achievable short term goal for the international community, replicating that experience in different places. Pardon me for laughing if anyone suggests global warming research and government reforms will create 11 trillion in value over any 30 year period, plus double digit annual growth rates from there on out. ;)

RE: The rest of the story...
By TomZ on 12/12/2007 2:20:04 PM , Rating: 2
That's all alternative energy is, a content who can successfuly get a hold of the most tax-payer dollars to fund their business which couldn't hack it in the real world.

That's a pretty strong statement. There are some businesses in that category, but probably most are just normal reputable businesses pursuing any opportunities they see, whether they result from green funds or normal funds.

RE: The rest of the story...
By Ringold on 12/12/2007 4:45:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not so sure many of them would be commercially viable, like producers of solar panels, to the degree that they are if not for heavy government hand-outs. I'm sure some of these people in the alternative energy field could still be doing some of what they are through university-based research, but the entire ethanol complex? Not at anywhere near these levels of oil prices. The huge run-up in the market cap of ag-related stocks? Wouldn't of happened either.

Perhaps at some point down the road they'd of advanced their technology to the point where a utility would really look at their technology with an eye to profitability, but if it that were the case today there wouldn't be so many traditional powerplants under construction globally. Seems to me the market has looked at its options and delivered its verdict: Coal is king, natural gas is good, and nuclear is the future, with a side-show of "green" energy to appease politicians here and there and in the occasion situations where it does make sense (hydro, for example).

RE: The rest of the story...
By BMFPitt on 12/14/2007 10:03:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure some of these people in the alternative energy field could still be doing some of what they are through university-based research, but the entire ethanol complex?
Ethanol has nothing to do with energy. It is a method of converting corn from Iowa into votes in primary elections.

RE: The rest of the story...
By Entropy42 on 12/15/2007 4:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
I LOL'ed.

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