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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 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. ;)


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