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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 16nm on 12/12/2007 1:57:41 PM , Rating: 2
so that argument is a moot point

Who's arguing? Not I. But yes, "Practically all spending generates enconomic activities and business opportunities" at least until all the government money is spent and hopefully beyond. With all the buzz around alternative energy, it seems to be a good investment at least for the foreseeable future. It seems like a lot of tax dollars are going to be dumped into it for better or worse. Though, personally, I'd like to see my tax dollars going towards the federal debt before anything else. Why is it no one gives a damn about this?

RE: The rest of the story...
By TomZ on 12/12/2007 2:11:22 PM , Rating: 2
There are some people concerned about the debt, but the reality is that it is not so serious a problem as it seems. People think about the public debt in the same way they think about personal debt - as something that must be paid off at some point in time. But with the public debt, it doesn't actually have to get paid off. And both economic theory and reality have proven that the US public debt doesn't pose any threat to the US economy.

RE: The rest of the story...
By 16nm on 12/12/2007 4:11:30 PM , Rating: 2
but the reality is that it is not so serious a problem as it seems

We agree that it seems serious, but I think that it IS as serious as it seems. Here's a good article on it. Pay attention to the foreign debt. China is very much entering into a situation where it may need to dump some of its dollars.
We need to make are debt worth more to foreigners. None seem to want the dollar right now which makes problems not only for our economy but the world's.

RE: The rest of the story...
By Ringold on 12/12/2007 5:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that we can't make our debt (dollar) worth more to foreigners because economic conditions are currently forcing down our interest rates, and doing so without the ECB following in lock-step; the ECB's primary mandate is inflation-fighting, where as the Fed has a dual mandate of both inflation control *and* maximum employment.

From your own link:
"... The so-called twin-deficits hypothesis, that government budget deficits cause current-account deficits, does not account for the fact that the U.S. external deficit expanded by about $300 billion between 1996 and 2000, a period during which the federal budget was in surplus and projected to remain so. Nor, for that matter, does the twin-deficits hypothesis shed any light on why a number of major countries, including Germany and Japan, continue to run large current-account surpluses despite government budget deficits that are similar in size (as a share of GDP) to that of the United States. It seems unlikely, therefore, that changes in the U.S. government budget position can entirely explain the behavior of the U.S. current account over the past decade." - Ben Bernanke

Also in question is that the dollar drop thus far has been damaging. It's translated in to no significant core inflation, and yet it's been a huge boost to exports and our multinational firms that get income in foreign currencies. Perhaps a further slide would be damaging, but how much lower can it go? As Altig points out in your link, or at least hints at, the rest of the world has a huge vested interest in now allowing the most powerful economy on Earth to fall to pieces. At some point, foreign central banks would start to cut their own interest rates in unison to head off any potential economic calamity from the dollar because if they didn't it'd come back to hurt their own economy.

Additionally both our deficit and total outstanding debt is lower than *many* other OECD nations, including a lot of Europe, according to % of GDP (the relevant measure). Our deficit is also shrinking, expected to be balanced if the Bush tax cuts are maintained by 2012 or 2013, and surplus from there on for a while.

If debt and deficits were the determinant of the value of a currency, then the Euro would, thanks to countries like France, be more valueable as kindling for a fire -- and yet it's much more valuable then that.

Final note is that at this particular moment with the unpleasant part of the business cycle upon us it would be the worst possible time to hike taxes -- unless recession was the goal.

RE: The rest of the story...
By 16nm on 12/12/2007 6:44:19 PM , Rating: 3
The problem is that we can't make our debt (dollar) worth more to foreigners because economic conditions are currently forcing down our interest rates,

Yes, we can make our debt more attractive to foreigners by simply having less of it! Then demand will be greater. It's for the best, both here, in the States, and abroad. The best senario for the world economy is a dollar-euro parity.

Final note is that at this particular moment with the unpleasant part of the business cycle upon us it would be the worst possible time to hike taxes -- unless recession was the goal.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who said anything about raising taxes? No, how about spending less? How about instead of throwing money at an imaginary global warming problem or Iraq, we put that money towards the federal debt?

RE: The rest of the story...
By Ringold on 12/13/2007 4:59:55 AM , Rating: 3
No, how about spending less?

Okay, now there we agree!

I still think perhaps 12 to 24 months would be a better time, but ultimately, sure, I agree. Politicians always love to think of Keynes' suggestion of increasing spending to help the economy, but never do they later remember what he said should come next -- spending cuts!

RE: The rest of the story...
By BMFPitt on 12/14/07, Rating: 0
RE: The rest of the story...
By Ringold on 12/12/2007 5:48:36 PM , Rating: 2
Also, I wasn't looking for it but just came across this:

Also, from the WSJ (can't find a free link):
"The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calculates that $1 converted into euros could buy a basket of goods and services in France that would cost only 80 cents in the U.S. A dollar converted to yen would buy things that would cost 82 cents in the U.S. Over time, markets are expected to narrow such gaps by pushing up the dollar and pulling down the euro and yen."

All much ado about nothing -- for a longer term investment horizon, anyway.

RE: The rest of the story...
By sweetsauce on 12/15/2007 2:55:59 PM , Rating: 1
I see, so i shouldn't care that the dollar isn't worth as much today as it was yesterday because i can still buy goods in europe? Next time i go grocery shopping, i'll just go to france and do it.

RE: The rest of the story...
By Murst on 12/12/2007 3:38:26 PM , Rating: 2
If the US actually decided to pay off its "debt", it would be an absolute disaster. Can you imagine the deflation that would cause?

The only issues w/ debt are if the deficit is rather large. And the reason this is important is not because of the actual debt, but the instability it brings into currency, financials, etc. That instability would be insignificant to the instability caused by basically throwing away trillions of dollars to pay off the debt.

RE: The rest of the story...
By 16nm on 12/12/2007 4:15:51 PM , Rating: 2
If I somehow implied that the US should have absolutely zero debt then I am sorry. I don't think there has ever once been a time when the United States of America was without any debt whatsoever. Maybe for a brief second during its founding it was debt free? LOL. I have no idea, but probably never.

RE: The rest of the story...
By onwisconsin on 12/12/2007 10:45:10 PM , Rating: 2
Close to zero ;)

"Debts incurred during the American Revolutionary War and under the Articles of Confederation led to the first yearly reported value of $75,463,476.52 on January 1, 1791. Over the following 45 years, the debt grew, briefly contracted to zero on January 8, 1835 under President Andrew Jackson but then quickly grew into the millions again."

RE: The rest of the story...
By ziggo on 12/12/2007 11:54:22 PM , Rating: 2
Public debt is one of the mainstays of this country; figuring the people would have more of an interest in the operation and stability of the government if the government owed them money.

Seems pretty reasonable to me.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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