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08-24-2008, 08:28 PM
In Greenland, a Memoir of the Earth
Saturday, Aug. 02, 2008 By BRYAN WALSH

Buzz From 30,000 ft. up, flying over the heart of the ice cap, you can't imagine it would ever be possible to lose Greenland. The only flaws in the sheer, marble-colored landscape are the black shadows cast by the scattered clouds above. But as our plane heads west toward the old American air base at Kangerlussuaq, puddles of blue glacial melt begin to appear — vast, unblinking eyes that reflect the sky back up. Then the whiteness is suddenly ruptured and the ice wrinkles and thins, revealing slashes of rock beneath the 2.9 million cubic km of ice. By the time the coast comes into sight, the ice sheet ends abruptly, leaving bare brown dirt and rock. Finally, as we descend to Kangerlussuaq, the green in Greenland is visible....

I'm in Greenland with a team of scientists, Danish officials (Greenland is a loosely governed Danish territory) and other journalists to visit a research project that may help answer one of the most important questions in climate science today: Will global warming melt the Greenland ice sheet? The massive ice sheet that covers all but the rocky coasts of Greenland is a relic of the last Ice Age. If it were to melt, it would release enough water to raise global sea levels by some 7 m — and that would spell the end for major coastal cities like New York City and Shanghai. No one expects that to happen anytime soon (or even anytime not soon), but the scary truth is that we don't really know how Greenland will react to rapid warming. The most recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change didn't directly take into account the possible loss of the Greenland ice sheet, noting that the data were too uncertain. We don't even know exactly how much ice is being lost from the island now.
One of the best ways to try to figure out what will happen in the future is to ascertain what happened in the past. That's why we're in Greenland. Our team will be visiting the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (NEEM) project, an international research team that has staked out a corner of the island's ice sheet and will, as the name suggests, drill. The ice in central Greenland is nearly 3 km thick, and as you drill down to the bottom, you can read the climatic history of the island as if you were counting tree rings going back tens of thousands of years. Oxygen isotopes trapped in the ice core can tell you what the temperature was in a given year; trapped air bubbles can reveal how much carbon dioxide and other gases were in the atmosphere at a particular time. You can even trace impurities that were in the air during the Roman Empire to a specific lead mine in Spain, according to J.P. Steffensen, one of NEEM's field leaders.

Such experiments have been done in Greenland and Antarctica for decades, with ice cores that can track climatic history up to 800,000 years ago, and they've helped form the bulk of our knowledge about past climate change. But the timeline is patchy, especially in Greenland, where we haven't been able to get a reliable ice core dating from 115,000 to 130,000 years ago. That's the Eemian period, and during those years the earth was some 5�C warmer than it is today. The NEEM scientists, whose ice cores should track back to that period, want to find out how the Greenland ice sheet reacted to the warming — with the hope that it will give us clues to Greenland's fate in a future that is sure to be hotter.
Our first stop on July 30, however, is Kangerlussuaq, the area's main airport and a staging ground for the NEEM project. Kangerlussuaq lies so far north that the sun never really sets in the summer, as I discover during a somewhat sleepless night. And the climate here is anything but Arctic. In the heat of the sun, temperatures exceed 70�F, and I shed layers of fleece as I take a jet-lagged walk around town. Not that there's anything to see: Kangerlussuaq didn't really exist until the Americans began using it as an air base in World War II, and though it reverted to Greenland control in 1992, it still feels like an abandoned military camp.
But Kangerlussuaq, which sits just off the rocky northwest coast of Greenland, is also home to one of the largest glaciers in the world, one that is melting speedily, pouring freshwater and the occasional iceberg into Baffin Bay. After getting properly outfitted for our trip to NEEM the next day — our weather forecast is in the teens, but temperatures really can be polar even during the summer — we take a car trip out to the vanishing edge of the glacier, some 30 km outside town. It's the waning hours of the afternoon, though it's hard to tell; time loses its meaning during an Arctic summer. As we drive down Kangerlussuaq's only road, we pass sprawling glacial-melt lakes of the purest blue, framed by rocky hills dusted with brush. The landscape seems freshly carved, as indeed it is in Greenland, where the expansion and contraction of ice constantly remakes the earth.

Finally, the glacier itself: a sheer cliff of white bleeding into rock. It's moving — though we can't see it — but the melting is visible in a raging river that pours down its side, as if bleeding. The Greenlanders in our group say it melts more and more each summer and recovers less and less. Actually, the speed of the glacier toward the sea has slowed in recent years — but that's not because there's more ice. Paradoxically, because so much ice has melted away in central Greenland, there is less pressure on the coastal glaciers to move. In Greenland, more than any other place, you can see global warming in action, and as I stand before the glacier, that's what I'm seeing. The landscape is changing, perhaps in frightening ways. But we don't yet know for sure where it's going. For that we'll have to go to NEEM and the geologic past.

08-24-2008, 08:32 PM
Nature reserve surrendered to rising seas
By Michael McCarthy
Monday, 25 August 2008
A major nature reserve is to become one of the first casualties of the rising seas around Britain.

Part of Titchwell Marsh, a favourite spot for birdwatchers on the north Norfolk coast, is to be sacrificed to the waves to save the rest of the site from destruction.

The site, owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, has seen its sea defences starting to give way after years of coastal erosion, exacerbated by global sea level rises, according to Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's Director of Conservation.

The charity has decided to undertake a "managed retreat" and rebuild defences more securely inland – meaning that a substantial portion of the reserve, currently brackish marsh and sheltered from the sea, will become tidal marsh and flooded twice a day.

The surrender to the sea comes ahead of a National Trust report this week that will warn that 10 of the UK's most famous landmarks will be dramatically altered by coastal erosion. They include St Michael's Mount off Cornwall, Studland beach in Dorset, and the eighteenth-century Welsh village, Porthdinllaen.

Last week, Lord Smith of Finsbury, chair of the Environment Agency, revealed to The Independent that stretches of the coastline were doomed.

Visited by about 90,000 people a year, Titchwell is home to rare species such as bitterns, avocets, bearded tits and marsh harriers, and in spring and autumn hosts migrating wading birds such as ruffs and curlew sandpipers. But coastal erosion has put the reserve's mixture of brackish and freshwater marshes and reedbeds at risk of inundation, as the sea walls protecting the northerly part of the site are being undercut.
Were they to give way, a saltwater flood of the habitats behind would severely damage them – for example, wiping rudd, the fish which is the main prey for bittern.

"The erosion has been going on for years but it is being accelerated by sea level rise, so we have to act earlier than we would have had to," said Dr Avery.

Sea levels are rising because of climate change. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates sea levels are rising at a rate of about 3.1 millimetres per year.

The RSPB's £1.5m plan involves an earth bank sea wall 200 yards inland. The alternative would have been concrete defences, inappropriate for a wildlife site.

"It's about balancing the interests of the site and finding the most sensible solution ," said the RSPB's Helen Deavin, project manager of the scheme. "We've got to bear in mind the impacts of climate change such as increased storminess."

The scheme should protect the reserve for 50 years.

08-24-2008, 11:58 PM
Map of Greenland (from Wiki)

08-25-2008, 12:07 AM
Nice. My house is 7.3 meters over sea level. I'll have beachfront property.

08-25-2008, 12:08 AM
fb: and then you will be enjoy the aquarium view of your windows ;)

08-27-2008, 08:41 PM
Carbon dioxide behind Greenland ice

Thursday, 28 Aug 2008 00:01
http://www.inthenews.co.uk/photo/photo-x-$7017421$180.jpg Scientists arrived at their findings by using state-of-the-art computer climate and ice-sheet models

UK scientists have speculated that a fall in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused an ice-sheet to form on Greenland three million years ago.

Rather than study the effects of global warming on the ice-sheet, researchers from the universities of Bristol and Leeds set out to determine why it came into existence in the first place.

"Evidence shows that around three million years ago there was an increase in the amount of rock and debris deposited on the ocean floor around Greenland," said Bristol University's Dr Dan Lunt, who published the team's findings in the Nature science journal today.

"These rocks could not have got there until icebergs started to form and could transport them, indicating that large amounts of ice on Greenland only began to form about three million years ago.

"Prior to that, Greenland was largely ice-free and probably covered in grass and forest. Furthermore, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were relatively high. So the question we wanted to answer was why did Greenland become covered in an ice-sheet?"

After studying possible reasons for the formation of the ice-sheet – including changes in ocean circulation and tectonic uplift, the increasing height of the Rocky Mountains and changes in the Earth's orbit – the scientists concluded the only possible reason was a fall in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to pre-industrial times.

The British Antarctic Survey-funded study arrived at its findings by using state-of-the-art computer climate and ice-sheet models.

While the results suggested that climatic shifts associated with changes in ocean circulation and tectonic uplift did affect the amount of ice cover, and that the ice waxed and waned with changes in the Earth's orbit, none of these changes were large enough to contribute significantly to the long-term growth of the Greenland ice sheet.

Dr Alan Haywood from Leeds University said greater understanding of why ice formed on Greenland three million years ago would help to predict the response of the ice-sheet to future climate change.

Dr Haywood added: "So why did elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations fall to levels similar to the pre-industrial era?

"That is the million dollar question which researchers will no doubt be trying to answer during the next few years."


08-27-2008, 08:50 PM
Mystery of Greenland's Ice Lingers as Sheet ShrinksBy Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience Managing Editor

Satellite image shows the retreat of the Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier. Each line marks the glacier's solid front, where icebergs fall into the sea, at various years going back to 1850.

Lines on this satellite image of Greenland's Helheim glacier show the positions of the glacier front between 2001 and 2005. Credit: Howat et al. Scientists have cautioned that a warming planet could melt Greenland's vast ice sheet, a potentially catastrophic event that would raise sea levels and inundate coastal communities around the globe.
Yet while they puzzle over when and whether this might happen, they're also mystified over how the giant island formed so much ice in the first place. Greenland's ice sheet is the second largest in the world, behind only Antarctica.

Strangely, other parts of the globe at similar latitudes, including northern Canada and Siberia, don't have year-round patches of ice anywhere near as extensive or thick.

A new study finds that a mysterious drop in greenhouse gases around 3 million years ago allowed Greenland's ice to proliferate. The research could help with forecasts about the fate of the ice and the potential for rising seas.

Why it matters
If all of Greenland's ice were to melt, perhaps as quickly as in a few centuries, seas would rise 21 feet (6.5 meters) all around the planet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And already, an alarming melt is under way there, other studies find. In 2007, the ice melted at a rate of 150 percent of the average going back to 1988.

Recent studies have found that as the ice melts more rapidly, water pours through fissures and gets under glaciers, acting like a lubricant to allow the ice to race ever-faster toward the sea. In addition, when snow melts at high altitudes and then refreezes, it can absorb up to four times more sunlight, creating even more melting the next year.

Some scientists fear a snowball effect could exacerbate the ice sheet's disintegration in as little time as a matter of decades.

But given a lack of understanding about the mechanisms, and questions about how warm the planet will get and how much ice will melt, scientists' estimates for the extent of sea-level rise by the end of this century range from just inches to perhaps 6 feet or so.

The new study
Around 3 million years ago, there was an increase in the amount of rock and debris deposited on the ocean floor around Greenland. The stuff must have been deposited by ice that had originated on land and then become icebergs, indicating that large amounts of ice on Greenland only began to form around that time, scientists say.

"Prior to that, Greenland was largely ice-free and probably covered in grass and forest," said Dan Lunt of the University of Bristol in England. "Furthermore, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were relatively high. So the question we wanted to answer was why did Greenland become covered in an ice-sheet?"

Theories abound, from changes in ocean circulation to changes in the Earth's orbit or tectonic uplift of the planet's surface. Another idea is that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations changed. Lunt and his colleagues used computer models of climate and ice sheets to test the theories.

Each theory got some support. But the only one producing effects large enough to explain the current reality was that carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that acts like a blanket to keep heat in and warm our world, fell to levels closer to those of pre-industrial times.
The research, funded by the British Antarctic Survey, is detailed in the Aug. 28 issue of the journal Nature.

What it means
Here's the really interesting part: When Greenland was ice-free, carbon dioxide was at 400 parts per million by volume in the atmosphere, Lunt explained via email. The level was 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution. Now it has climbed back to 385 ppm.

Next year, Lunt and colleagues plan to publish a study that applies their finding to the question of what this means for the future of the ice and the potential for higher sea levels. For now, he told LiveScience, "The work does certainly indicate that the ice sheet is sensitive to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations."

The study does not answer why Greenland got covered in ice but other northern locales did not. Lunt has an idea, however:

"The answer is most likely related to the fact that underneath the ice on Greenland are some high-altitude mountains on the east coast, which are high enough to be cold enough that ice can form, which then flows slowly down the slopes and eventually covers the entire island," Lunt explained. "In certain time periods [for example about 20,000 years ago], when the Earth's orbit is aligned in a certain way, ice does start to form in Canada and Siberia — for example in the last Ice Age."

Yet another big question has now been raised: Why did elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations fall so dramatically 3 million years ago?

08-31-2008, 08:53 PM
Faster Rise In Sea Level Predicted From Melting Greenland Ice Sheet, Based On Lessons From Ice Age

ScienceDaily (Aug. 31, 2008) — If the lessons being learned by scientists about the demise of the last great North American ice sheet are correct, estimates of global sea level rise from a melting Greenland ice sheet may be seriously underestimated.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of researchers led by University of Wisconsin-Madison geologist Anders Carlson reports that sea level rise from greenhouse-induced warming of the Greenland ice sheet could be double or triple current estimates over the next century.

"We're not talking about something catastrophic, but we could see a much bigger response in terms of sea level from the Greenland ice sheet over the next 100 years than what is currently predicted," says Carlson, a UW-Madison professor of geology and geophysics. Carlson worked with an international team of researchers, including Allegra LeGrande from the NASA Center for Climate Systems at Columbia University, and colleagues at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the California Institute of Technology, University of British Columbia and University of New Hampshire.

Scientists have yet to agree on how much melting of the Greenland ice sheet — a terrestrial ice mass encompassing 1.7 million square kilometers — will contribute to changes in sea level. One reason, Carlson explains, is that in recorded history there is no precedent for the influence of climate change on a massive ice sheet.

"We've never seen an ice sheet disappear before, but here we have a record," says Carlson of the new study that combined a powerful computer model with marine and terrestrial records to provide a snapshot of how fast ice sheets can melt and raise sea level in a warmer world.
Carlson and his group were able to draw on the lessons of the disappearance of the Laurentide ice sheet, the last great ice mass to cover much of the northern hemisphere. The Laurentide ice sheet, which encompassed large parts of what are now Canada and the United States, began to melt about 10,000 years ago in response to increased solar radiation in the northern hemisphere due to a cyclic change in the orientation of the Earth's axis. It experienced two rapid pulses of melting — one 9,000 years ago and another 7,600 years ago — that caused global sea level to rise by more than half an inch per year.

Those pulses of melting, according to the new study, occurred when summer air temperatures were similar to what are predicted for Greenland by the end of this century, a finding the suggests estimates of global sea level rise due to a warming world climate may be seriously underestimated.
The most recent estimates of sea level rise due to melting of the Greenland ice sheet by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest a maximum sea level rise during the next 100 years of about 1 to 4 inches. That estimate, Carlson and his colleagues note, is based on limited data, mostly from the last decade, and contrasts sharply with results from computer models of future climate, casting doubt on current estimates of change in sea level due to melting ice sheets.
According to the new study, rising sea levels up to a third of an inch per year or 1 to 2 feet over the course of a century are possible.
Even slight rises in global sea level are problematic as a significant percentage of the world's human population — hundreds of millions of people — lives in areas that can be affected by rising seas.
"For planning purposes, we should see the IPCC projections as conservative," Carlson says. "We think this is a very low estimate of what the Greenland ice sheet will contribute to sea level."

The authors of the new Nature Geoscience report were able to document the retreat of the Laurentide ice sheet and its contributions to changes in sea level by measuring how long rocks once covered by ice have been exposed to cosmic radiation, estimates of ice retreat based on radiocarbon dates from organic material as well as changes in ocean salinity.

09-04-2008, 11:26 PM
Actually some projections indicate that a partial failure of the ice sheet over Greenland is possible ... with a large "slide" into the ocean occuring.

What would cause this? Probably NOT global warming ... but a heating from below that lubricated the ice sheet's underside and allowed it to slip.

Unlikely ... but still possible. If it would occure though the slide could occure in a matter of weeks versus decades.

For a major sea innudation occurance the more likely scenario is a major collapse of part the island of Hawaii or of part of the Canary Islands due to EQ activity. Both places have a history of such collapses occuring on a regular basis ... and when they do they generate ocean wide tsunami's.


09-04-2008, 11:40 PM
Actually some projections indicate that a partial failure of the ice sheet over Greenland is possible ... with a large "slide" into the ocean occuring.

What would cause this? Probably NOT global warming ... but a heating from below that lubricated the ice sheet's underside and allowed it to slip.

Unlikely ... but still possible. If it would occure though the slide could occure in a matter of weeks versus decades.

For a major sea innudation occurance the more likely scenario is a major collapse of part the island of Hawaii or of part of the Canary Islands due to EQ activity. Both places have a history of such collapses occuring on a regular basis ... and when they do they generate ocean wide tsunami's.


Glacial rebound earthquakes caused by the rapid melting of the Greenland ice-sheet.

Riches in the Arctic: the new oil race

The future of the Arctic will be less white wilderness, more black gold, a new report on oil reserves in the High North has signalled this week. The first-comprehensive assessment of oil and gas resources north of the Arctic Circle, carried out by American geologists, reveals that underneath the ice, the region may contain as much as a .

....Environmentalists see this as a massive danger, with the melting of Greenland's land-based ice adding to sea-level rise, while the melting of the sea ice uncovers a dark ocean surface that absorbs far more of the sun's heat than the ice did, and thus acts as a "positive feedback" reinforcing warming. The melting of Greenland's ice sheet has accelerated so dramatically that it is triggering earthquakes for the first time, with movements of gigantic pieces of ice creating shockwaves with a magnitude of up to three.
Conservationists are also concerned about the threat to the Arctic's unique ecosystems and wildlife.....

http://www.independent.co.uk/enviro...ace-876816.html (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/riches-in-the-arctic-the-new-oil-race-876816.html)

Hundreds of tremors hit north Iceland
By Chris Bolwig on Jul 24, 2008 in General, Iceland, MBL

Over 700 small earthquakes have been measured off the north Icelandic coast, reports the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

The tremors hit in an area where earthquakes occur frequently, just to the east of the small island of Grimsey, which is the only part of Iceland within the Arctic Circle.

As of 0745 GMT there have been 31 earthquakes measuring over 3 on the Richter Scale, of which the largest were 4.7 and 4.8 and occured yesterday evening.

There have been no reports of injuries or damage to buildings.
http://www.icenews.is/index.php/200...-north-iceland/ (http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2008/07/24/hundreds-of-tremors-hit-north-iceland/)

Attached Imageshttp://www.curevents.com/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=25876&stc=1

US Blues
09-04-2008, 11:56 PM
no where do these articles mention frozen tundra melting, thereby releasing co2. Nor does it mention frozen sea beds warming due shifts in ocean currents, releasing frozen co2. Also not taken into account are major volcanic eruptions during these periods.

The sun has more effect than anything man has ever done.

09-05-2008, 01:01 AM
no where do these articles mention frozen tundra melting, thereby releasing co2. Nor does it mention frozen sea beds warming due shifts in ocean currents, releasing frozen co2. Also not taken into account are major volcanic eruptions during these periods.

The sun has more effect than anything man has ever done.

Well, thawing tundra releases mainly water, not CO2, and the sea bed isn't frozen, although you may be referring to methane clathrates, which qare frozen methane, CH4, not CO2. And they probably won't thaw all that fast. And I have no idea what volcanic eruptions you are referring to, please be specific.

There is not much basis for your assertion that solar forcing is the cause, particularly because it would mean that carbon-14, which is directly linked to solar flux, would both be at high concentrations, and have a positive correlation to surface temperature, but neither is the case. Instead, rises in temperature correspond to declines in carbon-14, exactly the opposite of what you are implying by this statement.

US Blues
09-05-2008, 01:57 AM
yes, it was the methane clathrates I was thinking of.

Krakatoa, May 20, 1883, as an example, that caused a 4 yr volcanic winter

09-07-2008, 07:36 PM
Analysis shows potential for increased Greenland ice melt and sea level rise

Researchers have yet to reach a consensus on how much and how quickly melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will contribute to sea level rise. To shed light on this question, scientists at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University's Centre for Climate Systems Research analysed the disappearance of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the last ice sheet to melt completely in the Northern Hemisphere and the closest example of what can be expected to happen to the Greenland Ice Sheet in the next century. Their findings show that sea level rise as a result of ice sheet melt can happen very rapidly. The study will be published online this week in Nature Geoscience.

'We have never seen an ice sheet retreat significantly or even disappear before, yet this may happen for the Greenland Ice Sheet in the coming centuries to millennia,' said Anders Carlson, the study's lead author and assistant professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 'What we don't know is the rate of melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The geologic data we compiled on the retreat history of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, however, gives us a window into how fast these large blocks of ice can melt and raise sea level.'

There are two challenges to determining the rate of melt for the Greenland Ice Sheet - a terrestrial ice mass covering more than 1.7 million sq. km. The current rate of sea level rise is 3 mm/year. In its Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicated up to 59 cm of sea level rise, and stated that, if the observed contributions from the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets between 1992 and 2003 were to increase in direct parallel with global average temperature change, the upper ranges of sea-level rise would increase by 10 to 20 cm. This prediction, however, is based on data collected in a very short period of time - mostly from the last decade - and is not enough to give a clearer idea about what might happen to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The second challenge is that ice sheet modelling is still in its infancy, owing in part to the lack of observations of ice sheet decay, and therefore cannot accurately depict projected melt. To overcome these challenges, this study took a different approach to examining the potential for future changes to Greenland by exploring the last example of an ice sheet disappearance 9,000 years ago.

Analysing geologic data and computer models, the team of researchers used terrestrial and marine records to reconstruct the demise of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, a land-based ice mass that covered much of North America, until its ultimate disappearance at around 6,500 years ago. The ice sheet, which once covered most of Canada and the upper reaches of the United States, had two intervals of rapid melting, the first around 9,000 years ago, and the second 7,500 years ago.

The researchers estimate that around the time of the first melting phase, the retreating ice sheet led to about approximately 7 metres of sea level rise at about 1.3 cm a year. The second phase accounts for around 5 metres of sea level rise at about 1.0 cm a year. These rates are comparable to evidence for global sea level rise for this interval derived from coral records.

'I was surprised to see that the model - in agreement with Anders' data - showed the Laurentide Ice Sheet disappearing at 2.7 m/year,' said Allegra LeGrande, who led the computer modeling portion of this study and is a postdoctoral research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Centre for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. 'This finding shows the potential for ice to disappear quickly, given the right push.'

The simulations of the Laurentide rapid melting episode show that the driving factors for the thinning of the ice sheet were increased solar radiation caused by a change in the earth's orbit which increased summer temperatures. Similar temperature increases may occur over Greenland by the end of this century.

IPCC predictions for changes in sea level for the next century are mainly based on the expansion of the oceans through warming, accounting less for contributions from ice sheet melt. This analysis of the Laurentide Ice sheet finds that the ice sheet 9,000 years ago was under similar pressure to melt as the Greenland Ice Sheet will be by the year 2100, implying a greater potential for mass loss on Greenland and resulting sea level rise. (Although this finding should not be extrapolated for an absolute prediction in sea level rise over the next ten years.)

'The word 'glacial' used to imply that something was very slow,' said LeGrande. 'This new evidence compiled from the past paired with our model for predicting future climate indicates that 'glacial' is anything but slow. Past ice sheets responded quickly to a changing climate, hinting at the potential for a similar response in the future.'

In an accompanying News and Views letter in Nature Geoscience, Mark Siddall, a researcher at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, writes 'Carlson and colleagues... show that the decay of the Laurentide ice sheet in the early Holocene was extremely fast during the periods they consider... Their work suggests that, in principle, future melt rates on the order of one metre per century are certainly not out of the question.'


09-07-2008, 07:38 PM
The glacial pace of sea-level rise (http://scienceblogs.com/deepseanews/2008/09/sea_level_rise_at_a_glacial_pa.php)

Category: New Research (http://scienceblogs.com/deepseanews/new_research/)
Posted on: September 7, 2008 8:37 AM, by Peter Etnoyer
http://scienceblogs.com/deepseanews/manhattanafter_sm.jpg"Flow velocities of ocean-ending outlet glaciers would have to be about 49 km/yr, 70 times faster than those glaciers move today", says Tad Pfeffer about his new research published in Science. That's three times faster than he and his colleagues have ever observed an outlet glacier to move. But, it doesn't mean sea level isn't rising dramatically due to glacier melt. Actually, the oceans could rise more and faster than International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists believed possible.

Image from Free Geography Tools (http://freegeographytools.com/2007/high-resolution-sea-level-rise-effects-in-google-earth)
There is a nice write-up on the latest and greatest thought-exercise on global warming and sea level rise (SLR) at Scientific American (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=how-much-will-global-warming-raise-sea-levels)online, complete with links to stunning pictures of glacier flows. The basic premise of the story is that Greenland, the world's largest island, holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by 7 meters. That's enough to sink parts of Manhattan. Try it yourself. (http://freegeographytools.com/2007/high-resolution-sea-level-rise-effects-in-google-earth) But the thrust of the research is that Greenland's ice melt won't sink Manhattan because the glaciers are moving too slowly for a global SLR of more than 2 little ol' meters. Low range scenarios predict SLR < 1 m by year 2100, including thermal expansion.

Global warming denialists may claim that the results of the study downplay the effects of sea level rise, but they do not. One to two meters is a significant rise for low-lying coastal communities. Furthermore, the new estimate is higher than the high-end IPCC estimate of 0.16- 0.60 m SLR by 2100. Coastal communities, beware of this state of denial. Seawalls will not help you. They'll just drain your municipal budget. Focus instead on outbound highways and bridges.

Now, I am no expert on global warming. I am skeptical of Doomsday scenarios (the world was supposed end 25 years ago). But, I study oceanography, listen to my professors, and choose to defer to experts when possible. Now that so many climate scientists agree that Earth is warming and the ice is melting, the pressing question for coastal communities like mine becomes not "if or if not" but "how, when, and where" will sea level rise?

At its core, the research by Pfeffer et al. (2008) (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/321/5894/1340)studies the question "what is a glacial pace?", finding it's not enough raise global sea level more than 2m. However, the global warming model is complicated. Subarctic glaciers in Alaska, Argentina, Canada and Russia contribute 60 percent of sea level rise from glacial melt. And, sudden movements of large Antarctic ice sheets could, shall we say, overcompensate for Greenland's glacial pace. If the relatively fresh meltwater is buoyant, it will travel in a wave, with peaks and troughs, in the surface layer across the ocean basin until the energy balance is restored. So, as I see it, "average sea level rise" is less important than wave amplitude. One 7 m wave will flood Manhattan, as illustrated above.

However, if the meltwater is cold and relatively dense, it will sink or "downwell" to become part of the North Atlantic bottom water, and begin to travel along the global conveyor belt of thermohaline circulation. In this scenario, the effect of meltwater would be delayed as bottom water travels the globe to upwellings zones in other parts of the world. But warm water expands, too, and there are feedback mechanisms, so really, it all just makes my head hurt.

To me, the real problem is that the trend in SLR estimates is increasing, and the uncertainty, aka the known unknowns are also increasing. One big question remains. What is the glacial pace where it matters the most?


09-27-2008, 06:08 PM
Should engineers fix climate change? (http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=1047)

Two weeks ago, I wrote that 1,500 ships could fight climate change (http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=1030). Many readers sent me interesting comments. And one of those, who wants to remain anonymous, sent me his thoughts about climate change. This started a conversation between the two of us and you’ll see the result of our exchange below. Essentially, this person — let’s call him Joe — is asking if we should we build ‘environmental machines’ to fix climate change or leave it to nature. Obviously, this would require that governments significantly reduce or eliminate most industrial sources of pollution within 30 years. Even if I don’t totally agree with Joe’s views, they’re worth reading. Please tell us what you think…

Joe starts by saying that “Greenland and Antarctica (the two largest bodies of ice in the world) are visibly contracting in size as climate change causes them to melt and sea levels to rise. Most corporations have accepted that climate change is caused by mankind and have introduced new consumer products that are slightly less damaging to the environment. Many governments appear to have finally accepted that climate change exists after years of denial but still seem to avoid leading their populations towards a less polluting style of living.”
You can see above a graphic showing “the height of the Greenland ice sheet in 2006 (left) and during the last interglacial period about 130,000 years ago, when the Arctic was 5 to 8°F (3 to 5°C) warmer in the summer.” (Credit: Bette Otto-Bliesner, National Center for Atmospheric Research, link to a larger version (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/bigphotos/21682658.html)) You’ll find more details by reading Greenland’s Ice Melt Grew by 250 Percent, Satellites Show (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/09/060920-greenland-ice.html) (John Roach, for National Geographic News, September 20, 2006)

Let’s return to Joe’s arguments. “Many governments appear to have finally accepted that climate change exists and is caused by human activities after years of denial [For an example, read President Bush Rejects Climate Change Report (http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2002/2002-06-05-06.asp) (Cat Lazaroff, Environment News Service, June 5, 2002).] Having world leaders agree that there is a problem and that ‘we’ have caused it might lead people to believe that plans were afoot to solve the causes of the problem.”

Now, Joe speaks about politicians in the Western world. “Is our democratic style of government ideally positioned to tackle environmental issues that are likely to cause unpopular changes and probably not count towards any re-election votes? An established London Mayor is believed to have lost his job because he wanted to impose a significant car tax to discourage drivers and it is likely that other career politicians may become reluctant to do the right thing for fear of loosing their popularity and job. If confident politicians do decide their countries are going to ‘clean-up’ their annual mega-tonnage of pollution, they could buy cleaner power stations to replace their older coal-fired plants but it would happen at a time when less developed countries are in race to power their countries with cheaper, higher polluting technologies. And then there is the cost of actions that do not provide a material return on investment, all of these negative factors mean that governments can become reluctant to significantly invest in a cleaner planet.”

Then Joe mentions that some numbers picked from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (http://www.ipcc.ch/) (IPCC) website. “Estimates from the IPCC who represent government climate change experts from around the world estimate that carbon dioxide pollution will have doubled from pre-industrial levels to 550 parts per million by around 2040 which is when 6 billion capitalist consumers will ask if more should have been done while the atmosphere was cleaner. When planetary air becomes as dirty as Japanese car congestion or Chinese smog clouds people are going to have to start wearing masks and adjusting to a shorter life expectancy.”
But who is Joe and is he credible? Here is own answer. “I am a engineer that is engaged in developing a mark one wave powered device that generates electricity in quite a cost-efficient manner, on my drawing board is a mark four variant that does away with electrical output and instead uses its energy to create a freezing action in seawater. Although there is mountain of research and development work to undertake it should be theoretically possible to deploy a quantity of equipment that will seek to re-create lost polar ice. Using environmental machines means that there is a danger of dependency especially if governments fail to limit the causes of pollution. The problem is that if sea ice is artificially created and the causes of climate change continue then if the machines were to cease working the ice would melt at an accelerated speed which could be quite hazardous.”

Of course, millions of articles about climate change have been published. Here is a short selection of must-read recent papers.

Greenland Ice Sheet runoff may more than double by century’s end (http://www.uaf.edu/news/a_news/20080611114625.html) (University of Alaska Fairbanks, June 11, 2008)
Climatic control on river discharge simulations, Zackenberg River drainage basin, northeast Greenland (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/114802346/abstract), published by Hydrological Processes (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/4125/home) (Volume 22, Issue 12, Pages 1932-1948, August 13, 2007)
What’s the cost of global warming? (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/22/global_warming_mitigation_vs_adaptation/) (Evan Jones, The Register, September 22, 2008)
IMPACTS: On the Threshold of Abrupt Climate Changes (http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2008/09/17/impacts-on-the-threshold-of-abrupt-climate-changes/) (Berkeley Lab news release, September 17, 2008)
Climate change: How Obama and McCain compare (http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/dn14804-climate-change-how-obama-and-mccain-compare.html) (Catherine Brahic, New Scientist, September 24, 2008)
Growth in the global carbon budget (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-09/gcp-git092408.php), a Global Carbon Project (http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/) news release, September 25, 2008 (the whole document should be published tomorrow on September 26, 2008) http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=1047

10-02-2008, 07:45 PM
Greenland accountable for rise in global sea level
1 Oct, 2008, 1538 hrs IST, ANI

WASHINGTON: Based on a new method for creating an accurate picture of Greenland's shrinking ice cap, it is now estimated that the country is accounta
ble for a half millimeter-rise in the global sea level per year.

The method was developed by researchers from TU Delft, in joint collaboration with the Center for Space Research (CSR) in Austin, Texas, USA.

The research was based on data from the German-American GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites, two satellites that have been orbiting the earth behind each other since mid-2002.

Deviations in the Earth's gravitational field cause fluctuations in the distance between the satellites, which is measured to a precision of a millionth of a meter.
As gravity is directly related to mass, these data can be used to plot changes in the earth's water balance, such as the disappearance of the ice caps.

Satellite data of this kind are ideal for measuring areas such as Greenland, where the extreme conditions make local measurements very difficult.

With this in mind, researchers from TU Delft and the CSR devised a method that would create a more accurate picture of the changes taking place in Greenland than had previously been possible.

Greenland lost an average of 195 cubic kilometres of ice per year between 2003 and 2008, which is enough to cause an annual increase in the global sea level of half a millimetre, or 5 cm over the course of the next century.

A report recently published by the Dutch Delta commission estimated that the melting ice cap in Greenland would cause the sea level to rise by 13 to 22 cm by 2100.
But these two figures do not necessarily contradict each other.

Whereas the first two years of the study showed a loss of 131 cubic kilometres of ice per year, during the last two years this figure had risen to 222 cubic kilometres per year, an increase of 70 percent.

This sharp increase was mainly caused by the extremely warm summer of 2007, when more than 350 cubic metres of ice melted in just two months.

The method used also enables scientists to plot the loss of mass per region, thereby providing new insight into the patterns of ice loss.

For example, for the first time since measurements were started, the extremely warm summer of 2007 saw a decrease in the ice mass at high altitudes (above 2,000 meters).

It also became clear that the ice loss is advancing towards the North of Greenland, particularly on the west coast.

The areas around Greenland, particularly Iceland, Spitsbergen and the northern islands of Canada, seem to be particularly badly affected.


10-02-2008, 07:49 PM
when more than 350 cubic metres of ice melted in just two months

I imagine they mean 350 km3. Just off by nine orders of magnitude, that's all. :)

10-02-2008, 07:53 PM
I imagine they mean 350 km3. Just off by nine orders of magnitude, that's all. :)
Yea- it's just a typo. They used "cubic kilometers" everywhere else./

10-02-2008, 08:00 PM
How you doin' Cao? Good to see you still around th' board.

10-02-2008, 08:13 PM
How you doin' Cao? Good to see you still around th' board.
Not too bad. Survived Ike and saw 1st hand how civilization depends on keeping the technology working. You can't believe how much losing intersection traffic lights shut's down a city the size of Houston.

10-03-2008, 12:10 AM
I was in a cycone in Australia a couple of years ago and loseing T.V. made me feel like a cave-man.

10-04-2008, 03:43 PM
Tsunami threat 'is growing in UK'

The academics said any future tsunami would be small scale and localised

The UK could be at increasing risk from tsunami, and especially amid climate change, two experts have claimed.

Oceanographer Professor Simon Haslett, of the University of Wales, Newport, said the destructive waves strike UK shores more than people think.

On the BBC's Timewatch programme, he says they will pose an growing threat.

Britain's Forgotten Floods (BBC 2, 2010 BST, Saturday) focuses on research by Prof Haslett and fellow tsunami expert Professor Ted Bryant from Australia.

Prof Haslett said: "Following the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) compiled a report of the tsunami risk in Britain. "However, the report omitted or dismissed a large number of historical flood events that might have been caused by tsunami, which limited the value of the report and perhaps underestimated the risk."

The academic duo took it upon themselves to investigate these forgotten floods, by examining 21 events to hit Britain over the past 1,000 years, in the hope of informing the national debate about tsunami risks.

"Tsunami strike British shores more frequently than previously considered," explained Prof Haslett.

"They have caused damage and loss of life in the past, and pose a future threat, particularly as a consequence of climate change.

If we are correct it makes tsunami a more common hazard in the UK than previously considered, making the chance of another happening again in the future a real possibility."

Climate change may have an unforeseen effect and increase the likelihood of tsunami as a result of sea-level rises and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Both could potentially trigger undersea earthquakes and landslides which could generate massive tsunami in the North Atlantic which in turn could hit the UK.

The historical disasters the pair examined included events associated with earthquakes in the Bristol Channel, Dover Straits and Thames Estuary and along the Essex, Devon and Cornwall, Scottish and Pembrokeshire coasts.

"These forgotten floods may not all be tsunami, but the association of many of them to known tsunami causes, such as earthquakes and comets, does support our interpretation," added the professor. "However, any future tsunami in the UK is likely to be on a far smaller scale and more localised than the tsunami that occur in either the Pacific or Indian Oceans."


10-08-2008, 05:24 PM
Satellite data reveals extreme summer snowmelt in northern Greenland, CCNY professor says

Published: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - 11:27

The northern part of the Greenland ice sheet experienced extreme snowmelt during the summer of 2008, with large portions of the area subject to record melting days, according to Dr. Marco Tedesco, Assistant Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York (CCNY), and colleagues. Their conclusion is based on an analysis of microwave brightness temperature recorded by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) onboard the F13 satellite. "Having such extreme melting so far north, where it is usually colder than the southern regions is extremely interesting," Professor Tedesco said. "In 2007, the record occurred in southern Greenland, mostly at high elevation areas where in 2008 extreme snowmelt occurred along the northern coast."
Melting in northern Greenland lasted up to 18 days longer than previous maximum values. The melting index, i.e. the number of melting days times the area subject to melting) was three times greater than the 1979-2007 average, with 1.545•106 square kilometers x days. The findings were reported in the October 6 edition of "EOS," a weekly newspaper published by the American Geophysical Union.

"The results obtained from SSM/I are consistent with the outputs of the MAR (Modèl Atmosphérique Régional) regional climate model, which indicated runoff 88 percent higher than the 1979 – 2007 mean and close to the 2007 value," Professor Tedesco noted. In addition, analysis of ground measurements from World Meteorological Organization automatic weather stations located close to where the record snowmelt was observed indicate surface/air maximum temperatures up to 3° Celsius above average.

The snowmelt and temperature anomalies occurred near Ellesmere Island, where several ice shelf break-ups were observed this summer. The region where the record melting days were recorded includes the Petermann glacier, which lost 29 square kilometers in July.

Professor Tedesco and his colleagues are currently analyzing possible causes for the high snowmelt in northern Greenland. High surface temperatures are, so far, the most evident factor. However other factors, such as solar radiation, could play a role, as well, he noted.
"The consistency of satellite, model and ground-based results provides a basis for a more robust analysis and synthesis tool," Professor Tedesco added. Next June, he and his colleagues plan to conduct field work in northern Greenland.

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/10/08/satellite.data.reveals.extreme.summer.snowmelt.nor thern.greenland.ccny.professor.says

10-08-2008, 05:29 PM
What links the retreat of Jakobshavn Isbrae, Wilkins Ice Shelf and the Petermann Glacier?

Guest commentary from Mauri Pelto ([email protected])
Changes occurring in marine terminating outlet glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet and ice shelves fringing the Antarctic Peninsula have altered our sense of the possible rate of response of large ice sheet-ice shelf systems. There is a shared mechanism at work that has emerged from the detailed observations of a number of researchers, that is the key to the onset and progression of the ice retreat. This mechanism is shared despite the vastly different nature of the environments of Jakobshavns Isbrae, Wilkins Ice Shelf and the Petermann Glacier.

We reviewed in a previous post (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/04/moulins-calving-fronts-and-greenland-outlet-glacier-acceleration/) the first mechanism for explaining the change in velocity of Greenland’s large outlet glacier - the Zwally effect - and why it is not the key. This mechanism relies on meltwater reaching the glacier base via moulins and reducing the friction at the base of the glacier. This idea was observed to be the cause of a brief seasonal acceleration of 10- 20 % on the Jakobshavns Glacier in 1998 and 1999 at Swiss Camp 35 km inland from the calving front (Zwally et al., 2002 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5579/218)). Examination of recent rapid supraglacial (i.e. on the surface) lake drainage documented short term velocity changes due to such events around 10%, but little significance to the annual flow of the large glaciers outlet glaciers (Das et.al, 2008 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1153360v1)).

The second mechanism is a dynamic thinning of the terminus zone of the marine terminating outlet glacier reducing the effective bed pressure, allowing acceleration - the Jakobshavn effect. The reduced resistive force at the calving front due to the thinner ice, now experiencing greater flotation, is then propagated "up glacier" (Hughes, 1986; Thomas, 2003 and 2004). If the Jakobshavn effect is the key the velocity increase will propagate up-glacier, there will be no seasonal cycle, and thinning and acceleration would be greatest near the terminus.

That the thinning and acceleration is greatest for marine terminating outlet glaciers has indeed been demonstrated by Sole et. al. (2008) (http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/2/673/2008/tcd-2-673-2008.pdf). That acceleration began at the calving front and spread upglacier 20 km in 1997 and up to 55 km inland by 2003 (Joughin et al., 2004 (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v432/n7017/abs/nature03130.html)). On Helheim the thinning and velocity propagated up-glacier from the calving front. Each of the glaciers fronts did respond to tidal variations indicating they had started floating, detached from their bed (Hamilton et al, 2006 (http://www.climatechange.umaine.edu/Research/projects/students/StearnsGreenland.html)). This summer, Jason Box and others at Ohio State University observed that Jakobhavns Isbrae retreated again, losing 15 km2, and maintaining an accelerated pace from the northern branch of the ice stream as opposed to the greater retreat and acceleration of the southern branch 2001-2005 (Box, 2008 (http://bprc.osu.edu/MODIS/?p=24)). This was accompanied by the second consecutive year of substantial retreat of the glacier just north of Jakobshavn, Sermeq Avannarleq which had been quite stable for much of the last century (Box , 2008b (http://bprc.osu.edu/MODIS/?p=31)). Sole et. al. (2008) also noted that the recent thinning and acceleration was not limited to just the now more famous Helheim, Jakobshavn and Kangderlugssuaq Glaciers, but included Rinks Isbrae, Equaluit, Cristian IV and all others they observed. Note the greater flow of the southern ice stream in 2000, compare to the northern ice stream in this image from Ian Joughin:
Petermann Glacier is a much different glacier than the others mentioned above. Its velocity of 2-3 m/day (Higgins, 1990) is much lower than 10-30 m/day observed on the other marine terminating outlet glaciers. It is located on the northwest corner of Greenland and certainly experiences less melting and less snowfall. The lower 80 km (in length) and 1300 km2 (in area) of the glacier is afloat. This makes it (by area) the largest floating glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. The ice front is not impressive,unlike the faster outlet glaciers. The calving front protrudes a mere 5-10 m above sea level, reflecting the fact that the ice at the front is only 60-70 m thick. Further up-glacier, the ice at the grounding line is 600-700 m thick. The combination of velocity and thickness yield the volume of material calved each year. Petermann Glacier calves 0.6 km3 (Higgins, 1990), whereas Jakobshavns yields close to 40 km3. The thinning between the grounding line and the calving front is mainly via melting as the snowline is at 900 m. The low slope leads to very low velocities, giving the low-lying floating section plenty of time to melt, and surface melt ponds are common.

The Petermann Glacier lost a substantial area, 29 km2 due to calving this summer (Box 2008c (http://bprc.osu.edu/MODIS/?p=25)), and a crack well back of the calving front indicates another 150 km2 is in danger. The volume of the ice lost is much less than that from the loss of a comparable area by Jakobshavn because the ice is an order of magnitude thinner. Once again the key to this glacier’s second major ice loss this decade after limited retreat in the last century, is thinning of the floating tongue, which weakens the glacier. The loss of this ice should then lead to acceleration, developing more crevassing and glacier retreat. The crack seen in the image of Petermann Glacier (ASTER image provided by Ian Howat of Ohio State) is more of a rift, like those on Larsen Ice Shelf, than a crevasse. This transverse rift is further connected to longitudinal-marginal rifts. Illustrating the poor connection of the Petermann Glacier to its margin and lack of a stabilizing force this margin has, even 15 km behind the calving front. This is not the only rift of its kind on the glacier. Also note that like on Larsen Ice Shelf the rift crosscuts surface streams.
A series of Landsat images from 2002, 2006 and 2007 illustrate the shift in the terminus and in the position of key rifts A, B and C. The distance back from the terminus has diminished for A and B from 2002 to 2007. In 2006 to 2007 the shift in the position of C is also evident.
http://www.realclimate.org/images/landsat1.jpg http://www.realclimate.org/images/landsat2.jpg http://www.realclimate.org/images/landsat3.jpg
As in the case on Jakobshavns, Helheim and others the key is the pre-conditioning phase of thinning, that leads to more calving, that leads to more acceleration, and that generates retreat. In a recent paper in press in the Journal of Glaciology Ian Howat and others examined changes in terminus position, surface elevation and flow on 32 glaciers along the southeast coast of Greenland from 200-2006. Their key conclusion was that the
… ratio of retreat to the along-flow stress-coupling length is proportional to the relative increase in speed, consistent with typical ice flow and sliding laws. This affirms that speedup results from loss of resistive stress at the front during retreat, which leads to along-flow stress transfer. Many retreats began with an increase in thinning rates near the front in the summer of 2003, a year of record high coastal-air and sea-surface temperatures.
This indicates again the importance of pre-conditioned thinning via melting.

Wilkins Ice Shelf (WIS) refused to hibernate this winter. A previous post (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/06/ice-shelf-instability/) noted that the recent collapse of Wordie Ice Shelf, Mueller Ice Shelf, Jones Ice Shelf, Larsen-A and Larsen-B Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula has made us aware of how dynamic ice shelf systems are.
The reasons for Ice Shelf collapse continue to be identified, but one key thread emerges. The decade prior to collapse the Larsen-B Ice Shelf had thinned primarily by melting of the ice shelf bottom (by the ocean) by 18 m (Shepard and others, 2003 (http://www.wdcgc.spri.cam.ac.uk/news/larseniceshelf/LarsenIceShelf.pdf)). Thinning preconditions the ice shelf for failure by weakening its connection to pinning points at the grounding line as the shelf becomes more buoyant. Glasser and Scambos (2008) (http://www.igsoc.org/journal/54/184/j07J086.pdf) observed that prior to collapse that rifts and crevasses parallel to the ice front crosscut the meltwater channels and ponds, hence, post dated them. The number and length of the rifts increased markedly in the year before collapse. There was no evidence of relict rifts, illustrating that these rifts are a feature of the last 20 years. After ice shelf collapse the ice front receded to the pre-existing rifts, and the pre-existing rifts defined the area of collapse. In this case the thinning and resultant structural weaknesses preconditioned the ice to rapid breakup, which proceeded to lose only the preconditioned portion of the ice shelf.

The WIS is buttressed by Alexander, Latady, Charcot and Rothschild islands and by numerous small ice rises, indicating that they are touching the ocean floor. WIS was examined by Braun, Humbert and Moll (2008) (http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/2/341/2008/tcd-2-341-2008.pdf). They found that drainage of melt ponds into crevasses were of no relevance for the break-up at WIS. On WIS the evolution of failure zones is associated with ice rises. In 1993/94, rift formation started to expand at the northern ice front. Today, the central part of WIS is intersected by long rifts formed in and around ice rises. The rifts up to tens of kilometers long evolve and coalesce prior to break-up events. The conclusion for WIS is that preconditioning of the ice shelf by connection of the rifts in the failure zones near ice rises trigger break-up events. The thinning and rifting lead to a cascade of failure.

The Feb.-April break-up left a narrow 6 km wide fractured connection to Charcot Island. Existing rifts formed between already existing fractures, crossed almost the entire northern shelf. This fragile and vulnerable area was expected to collapse further the next austral summer. However, it instead has happened this austral winter with loss of an additional 160 km2 of ice. It is the first winter ice loss of an ice shelf ever observed, and so was surprising. However, looking at the image below, from the European Space Agency showing the extent of the rifts as winter began, makes this less surprising. The question is more what can possibly hold this together? The area of interconnected rifts seen is 2000 km2. If this is lost an additional 3000 km2 of the 13 000km2 of WIS, is at risk when this connection to Charcot Island is lost (Braun, Humbert and Moll, 2008).
It appears then that glacier or ice shelf thinning is the key preconditioning factor for collapse, retreat and acceleration, whether you are in Antarctica of Greenland. The mechanisms for ice shelf thinning include basal melting (from warming ocean waters), surface melting, reduction in glacier inflow and rift development. These are interrelated mechanisms that precondition the ice shelves to collapse. On marine terminating outlet glaciers the mechanisms to trigger thinning is surface ablation causing thinning, and potentially basal melting, though not yet observed (though see this recent paper (http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v1/n10/abs/ngeo316.html) by Holland et al, 2008). Once the process begins thinner less buttressed ice enables acceleration and more calving and more retreat. There is a potential difference between the two, in glacier such as most marine terminating outlet glaciers, where the glacier flow is rapid, acceleration results from retreat and thinning. In the case of ice shelves a glacier buttressed by them will accelerate after the loss, but the slow moving ice shelf may suffer from reduced inflow. Attention will continue to be focused on these rapid responders to climate change;marine terminating glaciers in Greenland and ice shelves in Antarctica. We can look forward to more details from the extensive 2008 summer field season in Greenland and the upcoming view of the Wilkins this fall.


10-16-2008, 09:05 PM
Arctic temperatures hit record high


McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- Temperatures in the Arctic last fall hit an all-time high - more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Centigrade) above normal - and remain almost as high this year, an international team of scientists reported Thursday.

"The year 2007 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic," said Jackie Richter-Menge, a climate expert at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H, and editor of the latest annual Arctic Report Card.

"These are dynamic and dramatic times in the Arctic," she said. "The outlook isn't good."

Arctic temperatures naturally peak in October and November, after sea ice shrinks during the summer. The shrinkage lets more of the sun's rays heat the ocean rather than be reflected back into space.

As a result, the ocean is warming and causing global sea levels to rise even faster than predicted, according to the Arctic Report Card, the product of 46 scientists from 10 countries.

Summer 2007 set a record low for sea ice in the Arctic, threatening reindeer, walruses and polar bears and opening shipping lanes above the Arctic Circle, the report said. This summer's ice melt was only slightly smaller.

"There has been a massive loss of sea ice starting in the 1990s," said one of the authors, James Overland, an Arctic expert at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. "In 2008, we've lost so much multi-year old ice, it's very difficult for the ice cover to go back to where it was 20 years ago."

The Arctic Report Card's authors attributed the temperature spike to a combination of long-term global warming and short-term, natural variations in ocean currents and winds above the Arctic Circle.
"Global warming by itself wouldn't cause this much sea ice loss," Overland said. Nor would changes in wind and ocean currents alone.

"Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect of both natural variation and the emerging global warming signal," he said. "Both are necessary to put us in this strange new world. Once we're in this place, it's very hard to go back."

Although the Arctic is warming overall, its effects vary from place to place. The Bering Sea, for example, is in a cooling spell, and an unusually severe winter has bulked up Alaska's glaciers.

At the same time, the huge Greenland ice cap shrank by 88 square miles (220 square kilometers) as a result of an unusually warm spring and summer, according to Jaxon Box of the Byrd Polar Research Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Greenland dumped at least 24 cubic miles (100 cubic kilometers) of melted ice into the ocean. The report said the result was an "unprecedented" rise of nearly 0.1 inch per year.

The Arctic warming trend began in the 1960s and has been accelerating in the past decade.

Scientists say these changes in the Arctic are early warning signs of what may be coming for the rest of the world's climate.
"Obviously, the planet is interconnected, so what happens in the Arctic does matter." Richter-Menge said she said. "It's a really good indicator of what's going on."

10-16-2008, 09:08 PM
Time-lapse footage reveals ice sheet in crisis

Watch dramatic time-lapse footage of a year in the life of a glacier
Watch the full-size video (http://www.newscientist.com/video.ns?bctid=1859661109)

http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn14956/dn14956-1_700.jpg (http://environment.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn14956/dn14956-1_700.jpg) Satellite images clearly show two regions where the Jakobshavn glacier flows into the mouth of its fjord (black arrows). Coloured lines reveal the retreat of the ice front since 1850 (Image: NASA)Enlarge (http://environment.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn14956/dn14956-1_700.jpg)

Dramatic images taken at least every six hours over an entire year reveal how the world's fastest-flowing glacier is draining Greenland's ice sheet and contributing to sea-level rise world-wide.

Jason Amundson (http://www.gi.alaska.edu/~amundson/) of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and colleagues set up a complete "life monitoring" system around the end of the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland, at the point where it dumps its ice into a narrow fjord and out to sea, during the summer of 2007. The system remained in place until May 2008.

The Jakobshavn glacier, known as Sermeq Kujalleq in Greenlandic, is the
world's fastest flowing ice sheet (watch a NASA animation of the Jakobshavn Glacier (http://www.nasa.gov/mpg/121603main_Jakobshavn_NASA%20WebV_1.mpg)) and a major contributor to the demise of Greenland's ice (http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg18925383.500-greenlands-glaciers-are-slipsliding-away.html).

Each year, 7% of the ice lost from Greenland passes through the fjord. The incredible rate at which it sends ice crashing out to sea doubled to 12 kilometres per year between 1997 and 2003. This increased sea-level rise by 0.06 millimetres per year – roughly 4% of the 20th century rate of sea-level increase.

Three cameras took pictures every 10 minutes from 13 May to 8 June 2007, then every hour for the next month, every six hours over the winter and once more every 10 minutes from 7 to 14 May 2008.

Satellite pictures (see right) show that the ice sheet is not homogenous – two huge rivers of ice flow out into the fjord. Stitched together,

Amundson's images reveal how this happens.
During the summer, huge chunks of ice broke off from the tip of the ice river about every 75 hours – a process known as calving.
Berg birth

In the winter, the ice river grew out over the water at the top of the fjord, creating an ice tongue (http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn14192-antarctic-sticks-out-huge-annual-ice-tongue.html) several kilometres long. Amundson's pictures show that calving events stopped until the ice tongue disintegrated in four separate events between mid-April and mid-May 2008. In total, the team recorded 32 calvings.

At each calving event, the ice sheared through its entire 900-metre thickness and the new icebergs would flip over, drag up sediment from the bottom, and shove off into the fjord pushing floating ice ahead of it at a speedy one to two kilometres per hour. The ice river normally moves downstream 35 metres per day.

In addition to photographing the events, the team measured seismic waves generated by the break-ups (http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn8889-glacial-earthquakes-rock-greenland-ice-sheet.html) and monitored the movement of the ice using GPS stations posted on the ice.

"It's been known for over 30 years that calving events release low-frequency seismic energy," says Amundson. The slow rumblings, known as glacial earthquakes, can be detected around the world and are happening more and more frequently (http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn14063-tidal-icequakes-are-shaking-antarctica.html).

Previously, seismologist Göran Ekström (http://www.seismology.harvard.edu/~ekstrom/) at Harvard University had proposed that when ice breaks off the tip of Greenland ice rivers, the rest of the glacier suddenly jolts forwards, triggering the low rumblings. But Amundson's life-monitoring stations show no such jolts.

"It is still possible that the glacial earthquakes are generated by a slow acceleration of the glacier," he says. "More likely, I think, is that they are caused by icebergs bouncing around in the fjord."
Journal reference: Geophysical Research Letters (http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/) (DOI: 10.1029/2008GL035281, in press)


10-23-2008, 09:01 PM
The Sound of Greenland's Glaciers Shattering (http://io9.com/5065137/the-sound-of-greenlands-glaciers-shattering)

http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/io9/2008/10/greenland-crack.jpg It's one thing to see pictures of Greenland's ice sheets growing cracks and slowly crumbling into the water. But the whole process takes on a visceral, terrifying quality when you watch the two movies we've got for you below the jump: One is the result of a researcher recording a glacier breakup, then speeding up the tape to make the sound audible. The result is the truest form of black metal I've ever heard. The second clip shows a tsunami caused when a chunk of Greenland's ice sheet plunges into the water.

Listen to that sound. I want Meshuggah or Arch Enemy to sample that one and scream over it about industrial death. Over at Discover, io9 pal Michael Reilly describes this second video:
Several kilometers of ice shearing off the Greenland ice sheet is always awesome to behold, and the few thousand folks living down-fjord of Jakobshavn agree; ice-induced tsunamis regularly crash ashore in Ilulissat Harbor, 50 kilometers away from the glacier's edge. A phenomenon they've dubbed 'kaneling.' Rest assured, though, these waves are usually just 1/2 meter high or less when they arrive in the harbor, and they're mostly harmless...mostly. This [video] is a slightly more dangerous version of an ice-tsunami. And yes, that there at the end of the video, that's a couple of guys in a little boat fleeing for their lives.

Awesome Video of Greenland Glacier Disintegrating (http://blogs.discovery.com/strike_slip/2008/10/awesome-video-o.html) [via Discover]


10-29-2008, 08:01 PM
Rubber quackers to the rescue

Horseshoe Nails & Bowhead Whales
with Bill Gawor
Guest columnist
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Previous columns (http://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=91895194&pid=r&mode=ALL&n=0&query=Bill & Gawor)

Why would the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) use a flock of 90 little yellow rubber duckies to figure out the dynamics of a moving glacier, when they have access to billions of dollars worth of space technology?

Why all this interest in the melting rate of the Greenland ice cap and the even larger Antarctic ice mass?

Well, it took me awhile to figure it all out.

Hopefully, this experiment with the toy ducks will confirm that surface-melt water is actually working its way down through to the glacier's bottom.

Then, as a lubricant, it will increase the rate of the glacier's migration to the ocean.

It was quite shocking for me to realize the whole idea of combating global warming is to find a way to speed up the pace of ice getting to the sea.

The main cause of global warming is the heating of the Earth's oceans. As the oceans warm their waters expand, thus raising water levels worldwide. It is only the presence of ice in the ocean that keeps it cool and under control.

The ducks may be just the ticket in developing a method of putting the skids to the polar ice caps at both ends of the globe.

But it has to be controlled or we could end up with another ice age. That means blasting or bombing sections of the ice shelves is not in the cards.

Buy time
Artificially helping along the calving of icebergs into the oceans will buy time for coastal cities to relocate to higher ground.

It need not be done overnight, as there are centuries worth of Earth-cooling ice stored at both the northern and southern ice caps.

Even if only one of the little rubber duckies makes it to the sea and ends up as a priceless icon for sale on EBay, NASA will just have to grin and bear it.

What matters is that it will have the proof to go ahead with developing some type of melting device for lubricating the bottom of the migrating glaciers.

And that means NASA would save the world from worldwide drowning caused by global warming.


10-30-2008, 09:13 PM
Strange Object Found on Greenland (http://www.blinkx.com/video/strange-object-found-on-greenland/mRlqHDuE9lfNxRopqtU6QQ)


http://curevents.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=582&d=1225415595 (http://curevents.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=582&d=1225415595)

10-30-2008, 09:27 PM
Superman's Fortress of Solitude!

10-30-2008, 09:28 PM
I'm guessing a problem with Google.

10-30-2008, 09:39 PM
it looks like it has a door. and if you played the video, you know it's huge 59 miles x 9 miles!

10-30-2008, 09:44 PM
Hey guys, I don't know if this is a Holloween joke or not, but I got Google Earth and I'm seeing the same damn thing !

10-31-2008, 01:46 PM
I'm guessing a problem with Google.

I read that explanation elsewher on the Web. It still seems strange that it's so under-reported.

Why don't we see this kind of problem with Goggle elsewhere?

Why is my alternate satellite view being blocked?


10-31-2008, 02:07 PM
Sea level rise. Will NYC be underwater in our lifetime?

Watched the calving from a plane over Greenland. Awesome sight. That was back in mid April 2002.

10-31-2008, 06:23 PM
I read that explanation elsewher on the Web. It still seems strange that it's so under-reported.

Why don't we see this kind of problem with Goggle elsewhere?

Why is my alternate satellite view being blocked?


I challenge anyone to find a working current satellite image of Greenland.

11-11-2008, 09:13 PM
Lost nuke 'left in Greenland'

November 12, 2008
THE US abandoned a nuclear weapon under the ice in northern Greenland in 1968, it has been claimed.

Using testimony of those involved and declassified documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, the BBC yesterday reported that despite a desperate search of the crash site near a US military base at Thule, the weapon was never found.

Built in the early 1950s, the base was of great strategic importance to the US during its Cold War stand-off with the Soviet Union.

On January 21, 1968, a nuclear-armed B52 bomber crashed into the ice a few kilometres from the base. The explosives surrounding the four nuclear weapons on board detonated but the active nuclear devices did not, the BBC said.

Investigators recovered debris, including ice containing radioactive material, but only three of the weapons were accounted for.


11-14-2008, 08:50 AM
It should be read as "Arctic Sea" not Greenland. No amount of Global Warming will make it more accessible

11-14-2008, 11:43 PM
'Sea levels rising by 3.3 mm every year since 1993'

Washington, November 14: Monitoring changes to water levels in the sea, in rivers and lakes, in ice sheets and even under the ground, with the help of observations from satellites, has revealed that since the start of 1993, sea level has been rising by 3.3 mm a year, almost double the rate of the previous 50 years.

Sea level rise is one of the major consequences of global warming, but it is much more difficult to model and predict than temperature.

Since the 1990s, a number of altimeter satellites have been measuring the height of the ocean surface and this has dramatically improved our understanding of sea level rise.
Currently, three altimeter satellites cover the entire globe every 10 to 35 days, and can measure the height of the sea surface to a precision of 1 to 2 cm.

These measurements show that since the start of 1993, sea level has been rising by 3.3 mm a year, almost double the rate of the previous 50 years.

“For several years now, the rate of rise has not changed significantly,” said Anny Cazenave, from the Laboratoire d’Etudes en Geophysique et Oceanographie Spatiale (LEGOS) in Toulouse.

Cazenave’s team, and other groups, calculate that for 1993-2003, about half of the sea level rise was due to the oceans expanding as they became warmer, and the other half was due to shrinking land ice. Since 2003, ocean warming has had a temporary break but sea level has continued to rise.

Now, about 80 percent of the annual sea level rise can be attributed to accelerated land ice loss from glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica.

This has been revealed by a brand new satellite technique, called space gravimetry. The method has shown that the Greenland ice sheet is losing about 150 gigatonnes of ice each year, two thirds of which is large chunks of ice flowing rapidly into the sea.

Using GRACE, Cazenave and others have also looked at changes in water storage in river basins. In the period from 2002-2006, they found that some basins, including the Congo and the Mississippi, have been losing water, but river systems in the boreal regions are gaining water. Meanwhile, scientists at the European Space Agency, collaborating with DeMontfort University in the UK, have begun to use data from the satellites that measure sea level, to assess lake and river levels on land.


11-19-2008, 08:21 PM
Floods under Antarctic ice speed glaciers into sea: study

2 days ago
PARIS (AFP) — Scientists unveiled Sunday the first direct evidence that massive floods deep below Antarctica's ice cover are accelerating the flow of glaciers into the sea.

How quickly these huge bodies of ice slide off the Antarctic and Greenland land masses into the ocean help determine the speed at which sea levels rise.

The stakes are enormous: an increase measured in tens of centimetres (inches) could wreak havoc for hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying deltas and island nations around the world.

Researchers discovered only recently that inaccessible subglacial lakes in Antarctica periodically shed huge quantities of water.

Data collected by a satellite launched in 2003 -- the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat -- revealed a complex network of subglacial plumbing in which water periodically cascades from one hidden reservoir to another.

But the new study, published online in the journal Nature Geoscience, is the first to measure the potential impact of this invisible flooding on sea-bound glaciers.

A trio of scientists led by Leigh Stearns of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine matched ICESat data against a nearly 50-year record of how fast the Byrd Glacier in East Antarctica has moved toward the sea.

They discovered that during the same 14-month period that 1.7 cubic kilometres (0.4 cubic miles) of water cascaded through subglacial waterways, the 75-kilometre (45-mile) long glacier downstream pick up speed, moving about 10 percent faster.

"Our findings provide direct evidence that an active lake drainage system can cause large and rapid changes in glacier dynamics," the researchers concluded.

"Water acts as a lubricant, reducing friction at the base of the ice and making ice flow faster," explained Helen Fricker of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of California in a commentary, also in Nature Geoscience.

"The timing of the onset of speed up matched that of the lake drainage, and the slow-down coincided with the flood cessation," she noted.

The study adds to growing scientific concern about the pace at which glaciers are melting into the seas.

Two forces -- both driven by global warming -- cause sea levels to rise. One is thermal expansion of sea water.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned last year that thermal expansion will push sea levels up 18 to 59 centimetres (7.2 to 23.2 inches) by 2100, enough to wipe out several small island nations and severely disrupt low-lying mega deltas in Asia and Africa.

But the report failed to take into account the impact of the second force: additional water from melting sources of ice.

The ice sheet that sits atop Greenland, for example, contains enough water to raise world ocean levels by seven metres (23 feet).

Even the gloomiest global warming predictions do not include such a scenario.
But recent studies suggest that runoff from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets could drive sea levels higher than once thought, one reason the IPCC decided to remove the upward bracket from its forecast.


11-28-2008, 07:43 PM
Two degree rise could spark Greenland ice sheet meltdown: WWF

GENEVA (AFP) — A less than two degree Celsius rise in global temperatures might be sufficient to spark a meltdown of the Greenland Ice Sheet and Arctic sea ice, the WWF warned in a new study released Thursday.

"Scientists now suggest that even warming of less than 2 degree Celsius might be enough to trigger the loss of Arctic sea ice and the meltdown of the Greeland Ice Sheet," the WWF said in a statement to accompany the findings.

"As a result, global sea levels would rise by several metres, threatening tens of millions of people worldwide."

The melting of Arctic sea ice could affect ecosystems, while a meltdown of the Greenland Ice Sheet could lead to a sea level rise of up to seven metres, with a devastating impact for the rest of the world.

The WWF urged governments meeting for UN climate talks in Poland starting Monday to "develop a strong negotiation text for a new climate treaty" due at the end of next year.

Kim Carstensen, WWF Global Climate Initiative leader said: "The early meltdown of ice in the Arctic and Greenland may soon prompt further dangerous climate feedbacks accelerating warming faster and stronger than forecast.

"Responsible politicians cannot dare to waste another second on delaying tactics in the face of these urgent warnings from nature."


12-12-2008, 09:00 PM
Bye, bye Arctic ice - a case of too little too late
9 Dec 2008, 0926 hrs IST, IANS

POZNAN (Poland): The world is struggling to keep global warming to two degrees celsius as governments cannot agree on the steps. Even if they agree, it will be too little too late to save the Arctic ice cap and the sea will rise 6-7 metres, says a senior expert of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Bill Hare from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany was the coordinator for the section on sea level rise for the benchmark 2007 Assessment Report 4 (AR4) of the IPCC. He now says it is "likely that IPCC AR4 sea level rise projections are biased low".

New research carried out since AR4 shows that the "risk of additional sea level rise from both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets may be larger than projected and could occur on century time scales".

"Ice dynamical processes seen in recent observations but not fully included in (AR4) ice sheet models could increase the rate of ice loss," Hare said on the sidelines of the Dec 1-12 summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) here.

Hare, considered the world's leading scientist on polar ice caps, delivered a dire warning to the over 9,000 delegates attending the Poznan summit, which is stuck over the ways to limit global warming by 2100 to two degrees Celsius above the levels of the pre-Industrial Age.

In the Greenland ice sheet that covers the north polar region "warming as low as 1.9 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial could lead to irreversible meltdown", Hare said, adding: "This could lead to a sea level rise of 6-7 metres."

In the west Antarctic ice sheet too, "risk of disintegration increases with warming", Hare said. "Observed losses (have) increased 75 percent (in the) last 10 years." This can lead to further rise of 4-5 metres in the sea level.

The really apocalyptic one is the main Antarctic ice sheet, whose melting would lead to a sea level rise of about 52 metres.

But even without that, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet alone would drown thousands of islands and most coastal cities around the world, with the Ganges delta among those most at risk.

Hare explained the science behind the accelerated melting of the Greenland ice cap and said the retreat since 1997 of the Jakobshavn Isbrae Glacier - the largest outlet glacier from Greenland - appeared to be due to warm ocean waters.

When asked what is the future of the Greenland ice sheet, Hare said: "Contraction (of ice sheet is) projected to continue; "Virtually complete loss with sea level rise of about seven metres if global average warming were sustained for millennia in excess of 1.9 to 4.6 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial values;

"Projected 21st (century) temperatures in Greenland comparable to last interglacial period 125,000 years ago."

What about Antarctica? According to Hare, there was virtually loss in east Antarctica, but in the west there were "widespread losses along the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas and increased loss by 59% in 10 years".

In the Antarctic Peninsula, he added, "losses (are) increasing" but so far they were "concentrated along narrow channels occupied by outlet glaciers".

Hare concluded:
* Greenland ice sheet decay seems likely at or above 1.5 degrees Celsius warming. If present ice sheet behaviour continues then this threshold could be lower.

* West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) danger points appear to be in the range 2-4.5 degrees Celsius.

* Accelerating loss of ice from the Amundsen Sea Sector of the WAIS gives rise to very substantial concerns at lower temperatures.

* Uncertainty in sea level rise projections very large.

* Sea level rise likely much higher than IPCCAR4 because AR4 could not include all processes and current trends are larger than hose modelled.

* To keep sea level rise to 0.5 metres by 2100 will likely require emissions to be at lowest level assessed by IPCC AR4.

* Benefits of mitigation in the 21st century for sea level rise in the long term are high and are more certain than sea level rise projections.

Stefan Rahmstorf, another scientist from the Potsdam institute and also an IPCC expert, said that between 1961 and 2003, the melting of ice sheets had contributed 25 percent to global sea level rise, but since 2003 this had gone up to 40%.


12-14-2008, 06:44 PM
The glaciologist's worst nightmare
http://media.thestar.topscms.com/images/93/af/dc11bd2242b091be285c38f066e3.jpeg PAULO WHITAKER/REUTERS
The glaciers of Livingston Island, in Antarctica, are shown on Nov. 25, 2008. Many climatologists fear that gradual melting of ice will be replaced by ice break-up, causing a huge and sudden rise in sea level.

Forget melting. The possibility of ice break-up could lead to an irreversible catastrophe

Dec 13, 2008 04:30 AM
There was a line in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s fourth report that didn't get the attention it deserved:
"Dynamic processes related to ice flow not included in present models but suggested by recent observations could increase the vulnerability of the ice sheets to warming, increasing future sea-level rise."

The media picked up on the projected rise in sea levels of 18 to 59 centimetres by the end of the century, but they didn't question the models' limitations.

Many climatologists fear the gradual melting of ice will be replaced by ice break-up, causing a sudden huge rise in sea level. Such a scenario increases the necessity of rescuing our climate.

But there is a gulf between this urgent need and the negotiations on a post-Kyoto treaty, to be submitted to the UN conference in Poland this month, and Copenhagen in December 2009. The lives of millions of people, mainly in the South, are at stake.

Lakes of melted ice form on the surface of the polar ice caps in the summer months, driving cracks down through the ice, creating conduits. In Greenland recently, one such lake, three kilometres wide, emptied like a draining bathtub in just 90 minutes.

So much water surging down to the bedrock of the ice sheet could contribute to massive icebergs breaking off and sliding into the sea – causing a sharp rise in sea level. It's the glaciologist's worst nightmare.

These "dynamic processes" have been observed for several years in the Arctic, where the Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise the oceans by six metres. But now the Antarctic is causing concern. Its glacial areas are made up of four elements: the east and west Antarctic ice sheets, the Antarctic peninsula, and the ice shelves that float on the ocean.

If the eastern ice sheet were to disappear, the oceans would rise by no less than 50 metres. Luckily, for now, it is stable. But ice is melting rapidly on the west coast of the peninsula, where the rise in temperature – three degrees in 50 years – is greater than anywhere else on the planet. In the northeast, the average summer temperature reaches 2.2 degrees C, with an expected 0.5 C warming per decade.

The Antarctic peninsula and the west Antarctic ice sheet each contain enough water to raise sea level by five metres. Two things increase the danger: The mountain valleys of the peninsula are less narrow and winding than those of Greenland, meaning glaciers could slide more quickly into the sea; and the speed of some ice floes has tripled in the past few years.
But also, the bedrock beneath the west Antarctic ice sheet lies mainly below sea level, and in several places slopes downward to the open sea. Experts are worried that the circumpolar current, which is getting warmer and gradually approaching the coast, could cause the underwater anchor of the ice sheet to melt.

The danger is closer than we think, according to James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, and eight other experts who all put their names to an article on this subject in the journal Science.

Their conclusions follow paleoclimatic research. Sixty-five million years ago, Earth had almost no ice. The Antarctic became glaciated around 35 million years ago, when a combination of solar rays, the albedo (reflectivity), and the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases reached a tipping point, creating the conditions for cooling.

Sea levels fell, and precipitation, in the form of snow, increased at the poles. The authors say we are about to reach that same tipping point, but from the other direction.

This warning must be taken seriously. The IPCC's estimate on ocean-level rise is, in fact, the least precise of its projections: From 1990-2006, sea level rose by 3.3 mm a year, while the estimate was 2 mm.

The difference – 60 per cent – could be down to the difficulty in modelling the behaviour of glaciers. If temperature rise were stabilized at 2 C above 1780 levels (the end of the pre-industrial era), the models project a sea-level rise of between 0.4 and 1.4 m in a few centuries.

A differential of 60 per cent would be enough to bring that up to between 0.6 and 2.2 m. (These figures are probably an underestimate, since ice sheets break up in a non-linear way.)

This changes the timescale completely: If Hansen and colleagues are correct, an irreversible catastrophe could take place within a few decades.

One metre of sea-level rise would endanger the lives of tens of millions of people. Ten million Egyptians, 30 million Bengalis, and a quarter of Vietnam's population would have to leave their homes; London and New York would be under threat.

The IPCC president, Rajendra Pachauri, described a "frightening situation" and spoke of his hope that "the next report ... will be able to provide much better information on the possibility of these two large bodies of ice (Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet) melting."

Unfortunately, this report will not come out until 2013 – too late to influence this month's and next December's negotiations on a post-Kyoto strategy.

The IPCC's underestimate of sea-level rise is all the more unfortunate since its projections, approved by governments, form the basis of the climate-change negotiations begun in Bali in December 2007. What's worse, politicians always downplay these predictions.

While scientists' concerns grow, those in power increase their rhetoric but limit their targets to the most conservative predictions. The North relies on "flexible mechanisms" in an attempt to limit its effort to voluntary reductions.

This was the policy put forward by Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank. In his 2006 report to the British government, he said, "The lesson here is to avoid doing too much too fast" because "great uncertainty remains as to the costs of very deep reductions ... of 60 to 80 per cent or more ... from industrial processes, aviation and a number of areas."

The worry is that climate negotiations, if they lead anywhere, will lead to targets determined by profit, rather than the protection of people and the safety of the planet.

Daniel Tanuro is an agronomist and journalist. This article was originally published in Le Monde Diplomatique and translated by Stephanie Irvine.


12-16-2008, 11:08 PM
Arctic Ice Melting at Alarming Pace as Temperatures Rise
New studies show that the region is warming even faster than many scientists had feared
By Thomas Omestad
Posted December 16, 2008

New studies being released this week indicate that climate change is exerting massive and worrying change on the Arctic region—reducing the volume of ice, releasing methane gas into the atmosphere, and dramatically raising air temperatures in some parts of the Arctic.

The findings will give fresh urgency to international deliberations on the next global climate change pact planned for December 2009 in
Copenhagen. The studies also will likely intensify international pressure on the incoming Obama administration to embrace major cuts in the emission of greenhouse gases in an effort to help stabilize global temperatures.

NASA scientists will reveal that more than 2 trillion tons of land ice on Greenland and Alaska, along with in Antarctica, have melted since 2003. Satellite measurements suggest half of the loss has come from Greenland. Melting of land ice slowly raises sea levels.

The World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, is also reporting that ice volume in the Arctic this year fell to its lowest recorded level to date.

Experts from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado will further reveal that temperatures this fall in some Arctic areas north of Alaska were 9 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The long-predicted phenomenon is known as "Arctic amplification." As global air temperatures increase, the Arctic tends to show greater changes because the ice pack that once reflected solar heat is reduced in scope. More heat is therefore absorbed. The study is being discussed at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Says NASA climate scientist H. Jay Zwally, "We may be going through a tipping point [in climate change] right now." He adds, "Once the ice goes away, you're absorbing much more heat." The Arctic, he says, is showing two to three times the overall global rate of temperature increase.

The Arctic, adds Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, plays a key role in global weather. "You're starting to fundamentally change the Arctic refrigerator," he says. "You're fiddling with the dials on that refrigerator—maybe changing weather patterns well beyond the Arctic."

The changes in the Arctic, analysts predict, will launch an unprecedented era of oil and gas exploration, mineral exploitation, shipping, fishing, and tourism—all placing a fragile ecosystem at risk. One result of the new opportunities could begeopolitical competition among the five countries with Arctic Ocean frontage: Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark (through Greenland), and Norway.

The changes are also being documented by visitors to the Arctic.

Minnesota polar explorer Will Steger this June encountered high, jagged blocks of ice near Canada's Ellesmere Island that ultimately forced his team to change its plans. The ice blocks were apparently from ice shelves that had broken off.

"We were traveling over the ruins of the Arctic Ocean," Steger said. "Five, 10, 20 years from now, when we see this picture clearly, we won't believe what we've done."


12-19-2008, 07:36 PM
A senior moment: Has history ignored the environment?

Dec 19 2008 (http://www.examiner.co.uk/leisure-and-entertainment/whats-on-west-yorkshire/2008/12/19/) by Yvette Smith, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
Environmental scientist and retired university lecturer Dr Lance Tufnell, of Taylor Hill, asks why climate and other aspects of our environment are not discussed more often when people write about history
AT school my favourite subject was history. I was, however, told to avoid this at university, since it afforded few prospects of a job.

Instead, I was persuaded to take geography. As a result, I became an environmental scientist and this, fortunately, did provide me with a job for the whole of my working life.

Being now retired, I have the opportunity to combine both interests by attempting to discover how the natural environment has influenced history. During recent months I have had the pleasure of sharing my interests with members of the local branch of the University of the Third Age. These various activities will hopefully help to keep at bay those senior moments!

When reading history I am often surprised by how little mention there is of the natural environment. It is as though the actors are performing without a stage.

To some extent the problem arises because scientists are not yet able to supply historians with an adequate amount of quality data about recent environments.

In Northern England, for example, it is proving difficult to establish the nature of climate for any period before 1770.

Most people have heard about the destruction of Pompeii. In fact, neighbouring places, such as Herculaneum and Boscoreale, also perished owing to a complex series of environmental events. These probably began in 62AD with a major earthquake. After a number of further shocks, events culminated in two days of eruptions by Vesuvius in 79AD.
Over 1,000 victims have been found at Pompeii. It is thought that these represent about one-tenth of the town’s population, so most people obviously escaped.

In spite of much destruction, volcanic activity has also preserved a large amount of evidence, so that the Pompeii area is now one of the world’s foremost archaeological sites.

During 1783-4 the Laki fissure erupted in Iceland. Lava flows destroyed neighbouring farms and their livestock and even filled a river gorge, which had been 100 metres deep! Volcanic gases polluted the atmosphere and caused rain to become acidic. Iron rusted, grass withered and the feet of animals became yellow and sore. Famine between December 1783 and spring 1785 killed around 10,000 people.

Elsewhere in Europe and beyond the eruptions caused a fog, which lasted for five months. This was composed mainly of sulphate particles and affected vegetation and crops and led to much illness and even death among people and animals.

Any history of the Vikings should also consider environmental influences. The unforgiving nature of the terrain over much of Scandinavia led to its inhabitants turning to the sea for food and travel.

Once they had perfected the use of sail, Vikings ranged throughout the North Atlantic, even reaching Newfoundland and adjacent areas.

They were undoubtedly helped by the relatively good climate of the tenth and eleventh centuries.

Then, during the second half of the twelfth century, sea ice began to increase. As climate deteriorated further, the Viking colonies in Iceland and Greenland found life increasingly difficult. By the fifteenth century the settlements in Greenland had perished, though the ones in Iceland managed to survive.

Other important examples of the environment affecting history include the Black Death, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the French Revolution and the Irish potato famine.

In addition, the everyday lives of people were often heavily influenced by the environment. For example, during the second half of the eighteenth century, lightning claimed more victims in Northern England than it would today over the whole of the British Isles. Many also died from the cold, in river floods and in storms at sea. After one storm, in 1785, 104 bodies, which had been cast up on the shore, were interred in a single day at a church in Northumberland!

There is much we can still discover about how the environment has affected history. As a senior, I would encourage young people to take up this interesting area of study and help enlighten us about our past.


12-29-2008, 10:37 PM
Ice Ages Start and End So Suddenly "It's Like a Button Was Pressed," Say Scientists
By Annalee Newitz, 10:30 AM on Mon Dec 29 2008, 1,775 views

Dutch researchers drilling into the glaciers of Greenland have discovered that climate change occurs more rapidly than previously believed - indeed, the most recent ice age ended abruptly in just one year.

The NordGrip drilling project in Greenland has extracted ice cores from the ancient ice sheets there which reveal that the world's most recent ice age ended precisely 11,711 years ago. An ice core is a long cylinder drilled out of the ice, made up of layers of snow and ice that have fallen in the region for millennia. By examining the amount of snowfall buried in those layers, researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen have determined the exact year the ice age halted and gave way to our current climate.

According to ice core researcher Jørgen Peder Steffensen:

Our new, extremely detailed data from the examination of the ice cores shows that in the transition from the ice age to our current warm, interglacial period the climate shift is so sudden that it is as if a button was pressed.

This discovery suggests that our current climate could undergo a similar rapid change, shifting back into ice age mode in just one year.

Anthropologist John Hawks comments that the idea of extremely rapid climate change has gained a lot of currency in the past decade. But no, it does not mean that ice ages start Day After Tomorrow style, with climate changes chasing people down hallways.


01-11-2009, 09:46 PM
Massive Greenland meltdown? Not so fast, say scientists

by Marlowe Hood – Sun Jan 11, 1:21 pm ET

AFP/File – A general view shows the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Greenland. The recent acceleration of glacier …

PARIS (AFP) – The recent acceleration of glacier melt-off in Greenland, which some scientists fear could dramatically raise sea levels, may only be a temporary phenomenon, according to a study published Sunday.

Researchers in Britain and the United States devised computer models to test three scenarios that could account for rapid -- by the standards applied to glaciers -- loss of mass from the Helheim Glacier, one of Greenland's largest.

Two were based on changes caused directly by global warming: an increase in the amount of water that greases the underbelly of the glacier as it slides toward the sea, and a general thinning due to melting.

If confirmed, either of these explanations would point to a sustained increase in runoff over the coming decades, fueling speculation that sea level could rise faster and higher than once thought.

The stakes are enormous: the rate at which the global ocean water mark rises could have a devastating impact on hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying areas around the world.

But a team led by Andreas Vieli and Faezeh Nick of Durham University in Britain found that neither of these scenarios matched the data.

"They simply don't fit what we have observed," said Vieli in an interview.

By contrast, the third computer model -- which hypothesised that melt-off was triggered by changing conditions in the confined area where the glacier meets the sea -- fit like a glove, he said.

"Whatever happens at the terminus provokes a strong and rapid reaction in the rest of the glacier. The result has been a significant loss of mass" as huge chunks of ice drop into the ocean, a process known as calving, Vieli explained.

These changes are also set in motion by global warming, but are not likely to last, he said.

"You cannot maintain these very high rates of peak mass loss for very long. The glaciers start to retreat and settle into a new an relatively stable state," he said.

The Helheim Glacier, along with several others in Greenland, started to slow down in 2007.

Vieli also noted that the data alarming the scientific community only covers a span of a few years. It may be ill-advised, he suggested, to project a trend on the basis of what may turn out to be a short-term phenomenon.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted in 2007 that sea levels could creep up by 18 to 59 centimetres (7.2 to 23.2 inches) by 2100 due to thermal expansion driven by global warming.

Such an increase would be enough to wipe out several small island nations and seriously disrupt mega-deltas home in Asia and Africa.

But IPCC failed to take into account recent studies on the observed and potential impact of the melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, prompting the Nobel-winning body to later remove the upward bracket from its end-of-century forecast.

A new consensus has formed among experts that levels could rise by a metre or more by 2100, according to Mark Serreze of the National Now and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorodo.

"What has puzzled us is that the changes are even faster than we would have though possible," he said in a recent interview.

Vieli cautioned that his findings, published in Nature Geoscience, are narrowly focused on one glacier, and that sea levels could still rise higher than the IPCC's original projections.

Other Greenland glaciers behave differently, and the dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheet are still poorly understood, he noted.

Nor should the new study "be taken out of context to suggest that climate change is not a serious threat -- it is," he added.

The ice sitting atop Greenland could lift oceans by seven metres, though even the gloomiest of climate change projections do not include such a scenario.


01-12-2009, 07:43 PM
It's not really clear why the scientist think the very high rates of peak mass loss will suddenly decline. It's not like the pattern has to repeat a prior event that was not associated with the rise in grenhouse gases.

These changes are also set in motion by global warming, but are not likely to last, he said.

"You cannot maintain these very high rates of peak mass loss for very long. The glaciers start to retreat and settle into a new an relatively stable state," he said.

01-16-2009, 11:39 PM
Try reading the final sentence in your quote again.

Auburn Boy
01-17-2009, 12:21 AM
It's not really clear why the scientist think the very high rates of peak mass loss will suddenly decline. It's not like the pattern has to repeat a prior event that was not associated with the rise in grenhouse gases.

Well, Duh! Isn't it intuitively obvious to the most casual observer?

The very high rates of peak mass loss will suddenly decline when we run out of ice!


01-17-2009, 11:31 AM
Well, Duh! Isn't it intuitively obvious to the most casual observer?

The very high rates of peak mass loss will suddenly decline when we run out of ice!


Oh- I get it....all that I aint never gonna melt and flood our coast. :re:

01-17-2009, 08:09 PM
Arctic warming pattern 'highly unusual': Report
Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service

Published: Friday, January 16, 2009
A major U.S. government report on Arctic climate, prepared with input from eight Canadian scientists, has concluded that the recent rapid warming of polar temperatures and shrinking of multi-year Arctic sea ice are "highly unusual compared to events from previous thousands of years."

The findings, released on Friday, counter suggestions from some skeptics that such recent events as the opening of the Northwest Passage and collapse of ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic are predictable phenomena that could be explained as part of a natural climate cycle rather than being driven by elevated carbon emissions from human activity.

A summary of the report - described as "the first comprehensive analysis of the real data we have on past climate conditions in the Arctic," by U.S. Geological Survey director Mark Myers - warns that "sustained warming of at least a few degrees" is probably enough "to cause the nearly complete, eventual disappearance of the Greenland ice sheet, which would raise sea level by several metres."

The study also sounds the alarm that "temperature change in the Arctic is happening at a greater rate than other places in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is expected to continue in the future. As a result, glacier and ice-sheet melting, sea-ice retreat, coastal erosion and sea level rise can be expected to continue."

Ice cover in the Canadian Arctic and throughout the polar world has experienced record-setting melts in the past few years. The summer of 2007 saw polar ice cover shrink to its lowest extent in recorded history. Last summer's melt came close to matching that record, and recent research indicates that overall ice volume - because of the ongoing replacement of thicker, multi-year ice with thinner new ice - was lower in 2008 than 2007.

This past summer also saw further dramatic evidence of the unusual warming of the Canadian Arctic, including record-setting high temperatures in Iqaluit, Nunavut, rapid erosion and flooding of a glacial landscape on Baffin Island, the re-opening of the Northwest Passage, an unprecedented clearing of ice from the Beaufort Sea, and the collapse of hundreds of square kilometres of ancient ice shelves on the northern shore of Ellesmere Island.

Research for the U.S. Congress-commissioned report was conducted by 37 scientists from the U.S., Germany, Canada, Britain and Denmark.

The Canadian scientists involved were Mary Anne Douglas and Alexander Wolfe from the University of Alberta, John Smol from Queen's University, Garry Clarke of the University of British Columbia, Shawn Marshall from the University of Calgary, Jerry Mitrovica from the University of Toronto, Arthur Dyke of the Geological Survey of Canada, and McGill University's James Savelle.

"The current rate of human-influenced Arctic warming is comparable to peak natural rates documented by reconstructions of past climates. However, some projections of future human-induced change exceed documented natural variability," the scientists conclude. "The past tells us that when thresholds in the climate system are crossed, climate change can be very large and very fast. We cannot rule out that human-induced climate change will trigger such events in the future."


Auburn Boy
01-17-2009, 11:27 PM
Oh- I get it....all that I aint never gonna melt and flood our coast. :re:

Did I say that? Read carefully..,

The ice will run out when it's all MELTED!!!

I didn't say anything about raised sea levels or flooded coastlines. The just comes through inference..,

01-21-2009, 09:27 PM
Glacier's speed doubles two hours after daily peak surface melting

21 January 2009
The surface temperature of a so-called land-terminating glacier appears to controlling how fast it moves on a daily and annual basis, according to new research.

http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/images/uploaded/medium/russel-glacier-m.jpg The Russell glacier in south-west Greenland. Resarchers have found that it speeds up just after midday and slows at night.

Dr Andrew Shepherd and colleagues have shown how the Russell Glacier in south-west Greenland speeds up after peak melting during the day and after late summer melting - when the glacier's surface reaches its warmest.
It seems meltwater from the surface slips through the glacier acting as a lubricant, making it easier for the ice at the bottom to slide over bedrock. The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, helps explain why the Greenland ice sheet is shrinking - a problem which could lead to sea levels rising sooner than expected. Greenland contains enough ice to raise sea levels by around seven metres.

In the last 15 years the air temperature over Greenland has been rising faster than anywhere on Earth. But at the moment best estimates suggest that the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica only make a small contribution to sea level rise - around 0.1 - 0.8 millimetres a year of the three-millimetre-a-year average.

'The most recent IPCC predictions for sea level rise are wrong, because they don't include ice dynamics.'
Andrew Shepherd, University of Edinburgh.

However, in its Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the mechanisms that link climate and ice dynamics are poorly understood and are one of the great uncertainties in forecasting future sea level rise. Because so little is known about ice dynamics, the IPCC didn't include the effects of ice flow in its models.

'The most recent IPCC predictions for sea level rise are wrong, because they don't include ice dynamics,' says Shepherd.

Since the IPCC's 2007 report, researchers have been trying to plug the gap in their knowledge of exactly how the Earth's ice sheets will respond to a warming climate.
Although earlier research has shown that meltwater can find its way to the base of Alpine glaciers, nobody has been able to link warmer temperatures to the speed at which land-terminating glaciers in an ice sheet flow.

Shepherd and his team placed three GPS sensors on the surface of the Russell Glacier along the 'line of flow' to monitor the movement of ice during late summer. They also used satellite images to monitor lake formation on the surface of the ice to find out if the glacier moved when water disappeared from these lakes. Shepherd guessed that water from the lakes could be streaming to the base of the glacier and helping it move faster.

After peak melting time - usually around midday - the team found that the speed of ice doubled two hours later, but slowed down 12 hours afterwards once air temperatures had cooled. During late summer, the ice accelerated as the temperature increased. The speed of the glacier was double the winter average.
Accelerating ice

Using a model to estimate the amount of meltwater produced by the glacier, the team found that the amount of daily meltwater matched the acceleration of the ice. The glacier moved the most after water in the lakes had drained. At one site, the ice moved by as much as 250 metres in one year. Land-terminating glaciers move much more slowly than glaciers that reach the sea - so-called outlet glaciers, which travel several kilometres a year.

'Nobody knew that ice sheet glaciers could respond so quickly. Up until now, people thought glaciers didn't react to their environment very quickly at all,' says Shepherd, a glaciologist from the University of Edinburgh's School of Geosciences and leader of the research team.

In a different study, published in Nature Geoscience last week, Andreas Vieli and Faezeh Nick from Durham University found the reasons for rapid ice loss in outlet glaciers.

Whereas the loss of ice in the land-terminating Russell Glacier in Shepherd's study is dominated by surface melt, Vieli unearthed a different mechanism for ice loss in outlet glaciers.
Vieli and his team found that the Hellheim glacier, in east Greenland, speeds up in response to changes at its calving end - the part of the glacier that juts into the sea.

They wanted to see how different effects on the glacier compared with the ice loss researchers have witnessed. So they used computer models to test how various scenarios affected the glacier.

When they increased meltwater lubrication at the glacier's base, unlike Shepherd's study, the glacier didn't speed up towards the ocean. But when they put extra stresses at the front end of the glacier - such as warmer seas, as would happen in a warming climate - ice thinning, acceleration and retreat quickly spread far up the glacier. This exactly mimics what researchers have seen in Greenland.

'Essentially, higher air temperatures and warmer seas mean you're going to get more calving in a glacier like the Hellheim glacier. But as these glaciers retreat, maybe surface melt will be the dominant factor making them lose ice,' says Vieli.

Vieli is keen to point out that you have to be careful about extrapolating into the future. Researchers are still a long way off predicting how much sea levels will rise as Greenland's ice sheet disappears. Even so, both of these studies are a step forward in refining the ice aspect of current climate models.


02-05-2009, 08:39 PM
February 5, 2009

Questions for an IceQuake Expert: Merideth Nettles on Tumbling Glaciers and Rising Seas http://media.popularmechanics.com/images/icequake-430-0209.jpg
(Photograph by G. Hamilton)

Meredith Nettles is a geophysicist with an eye for unusual earthquakes. In 2003, she and several colleagues noticed an epidemic of seismologically bizarre quakes emanating from an unlikely spot: the coasts of Greenland. The team deduced that the quakes were caused by glaciers, moving so fast and so violently that their movement has shown up in seismic recordings. The scientists' work could help address one of the biggest unknowns in climate science: how rapidly sea levels may rise over the coming century. To learn more, Nettles and her team are conducting fieldwork on two massive glaciers in eastern Greenland. A recent paper detailed their findings to date; the team plans to return to its research sites this summer. —Jerry Beilinson

What exactly causes the seismic signals? In other words, what is a glacial earthquake?
We had suspected that the seismic signal came from the main chunk of the glacier lurching forward very abruptly. It does do that. But now what we're seeing is that no, the seismic signal comes from the collapse of this large mass of ice off of the end of the glacier. It's only in the last year or 18 months that it has become clear that for these big outlet glaciers, the biggest control on changes in their speed comes from what's happening at the calving front. You lose this ice off the front of the glacier and it looks like that reduces resistance to the glacier flow, so the whole glacier speeds up.

I've seen glaciers calving into the sea, but you're clearly talking about something far larger. Have you witnessed a glacial quake up close?
We saw a couple last summer from our helicopter, near the calving front. We were at the outlet to the Helheim glacier, in a system of fjords with sheer rock walls that are 500 meters [more than 1600 ft] tall. Typically, you start to see a rift open up in the glacier and then this big block of ice starts to roll over. The block that breaks off might be a couple of kilometers long and it's the full thickness of the glacier, which is about seven hundred meters—mainly underwater. It stretches maybe a couple hundred meters up the glacier. So it's easily a cubic kilometer [1.3 billion cubic yards] of ice breaking off. It takes a couple of minutes to fall, and as it's rolling, it has to move this thick melange of ice and water that's in front of it out of the way. You start to see the icebergs moving very, very fast down the fjord or, if they're close to the calving front, you see them being popped up, straight towards the helicopter. Then you see just tons of water streaming off of the new iceberg as it is being formed. We have instruments to detect the resulting tsunami about 35 or 40 kilometers away.

You said that the process speeds up the movement of the glacier. How does that happen?
The Helheim glacier got thinner by something like 100 meters between 2000 and 2005. And you can't account for that amount of thinning just by melting, which is a relatively slow process. Most of that thinning is actually accounted for by the increase in speed, which starts closer to the front of the glacier and then propagates up the glacier. It's a dynamic response—you're stretching the glacier. One thing this does is that you're thinning it out more near the front, near that boundary with the ocean, and that makes the surface slope of the glacier steeper. And the speed at which the glacier flows is largely a function of how steep the surface is. As a result you're speeding up the whole glacier and allowing ice to flow out of the system faster. The other thing that happens is that when the part of the glacier that is sitting in seawater gets thinner, the calving rate increases (http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4302636.html#). And now you've increased the rate at which you're doing the thing that made the glacier get faster, right? It's a positive feedback cycle where having the glacier speed up makes it thinner, which can make it speed up, which can make it thinner... and so on.

How did you discover that glacial earthquakes were happening? Had they just grown frequent enough to attract notice?
If you think about it, how do we even know that an earthquake happened if you didn't feel it? Basically what you have to do is scan (http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4302636.html#) a seismogram, and a successful way to do that for most earthquakes is to look for a sudden increase in the amplitude of energy in the seismogram. A very good frequency for that, for most earthquakes and explosions, is the band around one hertz. But glacial earthquakes are very poor generators of seismic energy at one hertz. They're slow compared to other earthquakes. The seismic waves are very clear, but for a detection algorithm that's looking at only high-frequency energy, they're completely invisible. So we started looking for energy at longer periods, in the range between 35 and 150 seconds.

Why did you do that? Were you looking for glacial earthquakes?
No, we were looking for slow earthquakes. We actually thought that we would find those at volcanoes. Instead, one of the first things that popped out of the results was that there were a very large number of earthquake detections along the coasts of Greenland, which otherwise is a very seismically quiet place because it's not on a plate boundary. And these earthquakes occur in tight clusters that turn out to be closely associated with massive outlet glaciers.

Had they always been there, but no one had noticed?
We started reprocessing data from earlier times and generated the records back to 1993. In 2005 we had more than 30 glacial earthquakes—95 percent of them in Greenland. It turns out that was six times as many glacial earthquakes as in 1993 and twice as many as in any year before 2000. That was a pretty big increase.

One reason that we saw the increase in earthquakes through 2005 is that a number of glaciers on the west coast of Greenland started generating earthquakes for the first time. There was a northward progression of where the earthquakes were occurring—new glaciers were sort of turning on and having glacial earthquakes.

What's happened since 2005?
We actually do not have final numbers for 2006 to 2008 yet, and are working on that right now. The problem is that evaluating changes in seismicity rates in a robust way requires being very careful, and we want to make sure we construct those totals in the same way we did up through 2005. So what I can tell you right now, based on our preliminary results for those years, is that the analysis in progress shows levels of glacial seismicity in 2006 to 2008 that's similar to that observed in 2003 to 2004.

What does your research imply for sea level rise?
If you look at the most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, they have a very clear statement that rapid changes in glacier dynamics are not taken into account in their predictions of sea level rise. Simply not enough is known about how those processes work.

But what we have seen during the last decade is very rapid changes in glacier flow speeds, very rapid retreats of the location of the glacier terminus and very rapid thinning of the outlet glaciers. And those things put more ice into the ocean faster. So understanding how glaciers respond dynamically to changes in environmental conditions is important for being able to constrain that additional contribution in sea level rise.

Can you quantify how much faster ice is flowing into the ocean from the Greenland ice sheet now, compared to the past?
Sure, and people have done that. Basically, what they conclude is that the mass loss in Greenland doubled in the decade ending in 2005. And so during that time the contribution to sea level rise increased from what was, in 1996, 0.23 mm per year to about 0.57 mm per year in 2005. That doesn't sound like a lot until you multiply by a hundred years, and then it starts to add up. But the real question is, how much will that rate change in the future? If those glaciers continue to speed up, then you'll have an accelerating rate of mass transport out of the inland ice.

Now, for an individual glacier it's not clear that they can continue to speed up indefinitely. Will it continue to speed up until it has some catastrophic collapse, or will it stabilize itself at some new equilibrium level? So those are the kind of questions that a lot of people are working very hard to understand right now. That's the unknown.

02-18-2009, 09:10 PM
Wrapping Greenland in reflective blankets

Rising sea levels are threatening the planet but a glaciologist has devised a way to prevent glaciers from melting further - by wrapping them in a reflective blanket.

By Jessica Salter
18 Feb 2009
Glaciers cover just 10 per cent of the earth’s surface but 75 per cent of the world’s fresh water are locked beneath the ice.
Jason Box, from Ohio State University, says the way to combat melting glaciers is to cover them with blankets that will reflect the sun’s rays.

Dr Box said: “We’re in the midst of a climate catastrophe and glaciers are the epicentre of that problem.

“Glaciers around the planted are decanting into the oceans at shocking rates and I want to stop that.”

Dr Box, who has conducted climate research expeditions to the Greenland ice sheet every year since 1994, has set out with a team of three others to test his idea on a real glacier in Greenland and prove the technology works.

The bulk of their cargo is 31 giant rolls of uniquely designed white polypropylene blankets. These blankets, which are used in the Alps to preserve ski hills in the summer, will cover a total surface area of 10,000 square meters and are designed to reflect sunlight and block out Greenland’s winds.

The team have to endure a hurricane-force ice storm to test how resilient the material is and test whether it would survive in the Arctic.

Dr Box said: “It’s going to be expensive but when you consider the cost of reengineering our coastlines – this may actually be cheaper.”


02-20-2009, 06:47 PM
Bubbles of warming, beneath the ice
As permafrost thaws in the Arctic, huge pockets of methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- could be released into the atmosphere. Experts are only beginning to understand how disastrous that could be.


02-21-2009, 01:30 AM
NSIDC: satellite sea ice sensor has “catastrophic failure” - data faulty for the last 45 or more days


The DMSP satellite is still operating, but the SSM/I sensor is not

Regular readers will recall that on Feb 16th I blogged about this graph of arctic sea ice posted on the National Snow and Ice Data Center sea ice news page. The downward jump in the blue line was abrupt and puzzling.

Today NSIDC announced they had discovered the reason why. The sensor on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite they use had degraded and now apparently failed to the point of being unusable. Compounding the bad news they discovered it had been in slow decline for almost two months, which caused a bias in the arctic sea ice data that underestimated the total sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers. This will likely affect the January NSIDC sea ice totals.


02-21-2009, 12:10 PM
Earthquake Details

Magnitude (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#magnitude)5.0Date-Time (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#date)

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 15:40:36 UTC
Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 01:40:36 PM at epicenter
Location (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#location)55.256°N, 37.029°WDepth (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#depth)10 km (6.2 miles) set by location programRegion (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#region)NORTH ATLANTIC OCEANDistances (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#distances)

1284 km (798 miles) SE (134°) from NUUK (GODTHAB), Greenland
1294 km (804 miles) SW (227°) from REYKJAVIK, Iceland
Location Uncertainty (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#uncertainty)horizontal +/- 20.8 km (12.9 miles); depth fixed by location programParameters (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/glossary.php#parameters)NST= 20, Nph= 20, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=1.34 sec, Gp=140°,
M-type=body magnitude (Mb), Version=7


02-25-2009, 08:27 AM
Greenland And Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting, Rate Unknown

ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2009) — The Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets are melting, but the amounts that will melt and the time it will take are still unknown, according to Richard Alley, Evan Pugh professor of geosciences, Penn State.

In the past, the Greenland ice sheet has grown when its surroundings cooled, shrunk when its surroundings warmed and even disappeared completely when the temperatures became warm enough. If the ice sheet on Greenland melts, sea level will rise about 23 feet, which will inundate portions of nearly all continental shores. However, Antarctica, containing much more water, could add up to another 190 feet to sea level.
"We do not think that we will lose all, or even most, of Antarctica's ice sheet," said Alley. "But important losses may have already started and could raise sea level as much or more than melting of Greenland's ice over hundreds or thousands of years," Alley told attendees Feb 16 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Warming is expected to cause more precipitation on Greenland and Antarctica, adding snow. Previously, many scientists suggested that this would offset increasing melting. However, recent studies show that the ice sheets on both Greenland and in Antarctica are melting faster than the snow is replacing the mass.

A number of things can contribute to the increased rate of melting in Greenland and Antarctica. Large lakes of water on the ice in Greenland pose a problem. This water, by wedging open a crack or crevasse in the ice, quickly flows through to the bottom, melting the bottom of the ice sheet and causing it to move more rapidly toward the ocean. Observers have seen lakes on the Greenland ice sheet drain at the speed of Niagara Falls.

All ice sheets spread due to their large mass, but friction from the rocks beneath slows the ice's motion. Water beneath the ice allows the ice to move more rapidly.

"Right now, the center of the Greenland ice sheet is frozen to the rocks," says Alley. "If the melt water moves inland as the world warms and gets to the bottom, it will thaw the bottom and unstick the ice from the rocks."

Another contributor to the melting ice sheets is the warming of the ocean. When ice shelves -- ice still connected to the ice sheet but floating over water -- melt, they also cause the ice sheet to flow faster. In Greenland, the Jakobshavn ice shelf has retreated more than 5 miles since 1992. Rocks and cliffs on the sides of fiords or inlets slow the seaward movement of the ice shelves. If these shelves break up and melt, the ice streams behind them move more rapidly.

Ice shelf failures have also occurred on Antarctica where, for example, most of the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in March of 2002 and increased the rate of ice stream flow eight times.

"Water temperature is more important than air temperature in melting the ice shelves," says Alley. "However, both contribute."

Warmer oceans, caused by general global warming or local events can trigger more breakups of ice shelves and faster flow of ice streams in Antarctica. In Greenland, sustained increase in temperatures of only a few degrees will remove the ice.

Alley believes he knows the direction to go to gain a better understanding of the ice sheets, how they work and the effect they have on climate change. Although those who study ice sheets have long modeled ice sheet behavior, simulations of the whole earth system typically have not included ice sheets along with the atmosphere, oceans and clouds, in their models. Past atmospheric modelers usually treated the ice sheets simply as white mountains.

"They are not white mountains and they need to be modeled," said Alley. "We need to have them in the models to figure out how the system works."

Alley notes that a collaboration of government and academic scientists created the atmospheric and ocean models, but collaborations to model the ice are only just being developed.


02-26-2009, 09:18 AM
UN Scientists:; Climate Change Evidence Unequivocal By Julia Ritchey
26 February 2009

http://www.voanews.com/english/images/AP_Arctic_Melting_28July08.jpgLarge pieces of ice drifting off after separating from an Ice Shelf (File)Scientists for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, say the group's latest findings on global warming show rapidly increasing carbon dioxide emissions and quickly shrinking Arctic ice. To compound matters, a separate study released on Wednesday finds that the melting of polar ice is more severe than previously thought.

The Chairman of the IPCC, RK Pachauri, said 11 of the last 12 years were among the warmest for global surface temperature in recorded history. Pachauri testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the IPCC's latest findings on global warming.

He said climate change will impact some parts of the world more severely than others.

"In Africa, for instance, by 2020 our projections show that 75 to 250 million people would be affected by water stress on account of climate change, and crop revenues could drop very rapidly," said RK Pachauri. "We are really causing major distortions and disparities in economic development and growth throughout the world."

Pachauri's testimony coincided with another study by the U.N.-backed International Polar Year program, which found that icecaps at both the North and South Poles are melting at unprecedented rate. The report, compiled by scientists from more than 60 countries, also says that the shrinking of polar and Greenland ice is fueling a rise in sea levels and the potential for dramatic changes in the global climate system.

The authors say the Arctic permafrost also reveals larger amounts of carbon than expected that, with further melting, could release more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Christopher Field, a contributor to the IPCC report, told the Senate Committee that temperatures at the South Pole are rising faster than expected.

"Just within the last few months we've seen confirmation that the continent of Antarctica has been warming," said Christopher Field. "And it's been warming at a rate of almost 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, comparable in pace to much of the rest of the Southern Hemisphere."

Pachauri and Field say the costs of mitigating human generated carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions are modest compared to the costs of doing nothing. Field adds that the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says if CO2 levels are left unchecked, the earth's temperature could rise several degrees by the end of the century.

Scientists who are skeptical of the severity of global warming contend that there is no way to measure the impact of human activity on climate and that no one knows how much warming will occur or how it might affect the earth. Some experts suggest that global warming may be part of natural climate cycles that humans can do little about.


03-08-2009, 02:45 PM
Scientists to issue stark warning over dramatic new sea level figures

Rising sea levels pose a far bigger eco threat than previously thought. This week's climate change conference in Copenhagen will sound an alarm over new floodings - enough to swamp Bangladesh, Florida, the Norfolk Broads and the Thames estuary.
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pixies/2009/3/7/1236463511952/Windmills-in-Holland-001.jpg With much of the country already below sea level, even a small rise would be devastating for the Dutch. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP

Scientists will warn this week that rising sea levels, triggered by global warming, pose a far greater danger to the planet than previously estimated. There is now a major risk that many coastal areas around the world will be inundated by the end of the century because Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are melting faster than previously estimated.
Low-lying areas including Bangladesh, Florida, the Maldives and the Netherlands face catastrophic flooding (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/flooding), while, in Britain, large areas of the Norfolk Broads and the Thames estuary are likely to disappear by 2100. In addition, cities including London, Hull and Portsmouth will need new flood defences.

"It is now clear that there are going to be massive flooding disasters around the globe," said Dr David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey. "Populations are shifting to the coast, which means that more and more people are going to be threatened by sea-level rises."

The issue is set to dominate the opening sessions of the international climate change (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/scienceofclimatechange) conference in Copenhagen this week, when scientists will outline their latest findings on a host of issues concerning global warming. The meeting has been organised to set the agenda for this December's international climate talks (also to be held in Copenhagen), which will draw up a treaty to replace the current Kyoto protocol for limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

And key to these deliberations will be the issue of ice-sheet melting. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - when it presented its most up-to-date report on the likely impact of global warming in 2007 - concluded that sea-level rises of between 20 and 60 centimetres would occur by 2100. These figures were derived from estimates of how much the sea will increase in volume as it heats up, a process called thermal expansion, and from projected increases in run-off water from melting glaciers in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges.

But the report contained an important caveat: that its sea-level rise estimate contained very little input from melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. The IPCC forecast therefore tended to underestimate forthcoming changes.

"The IPCC felt the whole dynamics of polar ice-sheet melting were too poorly understood," added Vaughan. "However, we are now getting a much better idea of what is going on in Greenland and Antarctica and can make much more accurate forecasts about ice-sheet melting and its contribution to sea-level rises."

From studying satellite images, scientists have watched the sea ice that hugs the Greenland and Antarctic shores dwindle and disappear. Sea-ice melting on its own does not cause ocean levels to rise, but its disappearance has a major impact on land ice sheets. Without sea ice to prop them up, the land sheets tip into the water and disintegrate at increasing rates, a phenomenon that is now being studied in detail by researchers.

"It is becoming increasingly apparent from our studies of Greenland and Antarctica that changes to sea ice are being transmitted into the hearts of the land-ice sheets in a remarkably short time," added Vaughan. As a result, those land sheets are breaking up faster and far more melt water is being added to the oceans than was previously expected.

These revisions suggest sea-level rises could easily top a metre by 2100 - a figure that is backed by the US Geological Survey, which this year warned that they could reach as much as 1.5 metres.

In addition, in September, a team led by Tad Pfeffer at the University of Colorado at Boulder published calculations using conservative, medium and extreme glaciological assumptions for sea-level rise expected from Greenland, Antarctica and the world's smaller glaciers and ice caps. They concluded that the most plausible scenario, when factoring in thermal expansion due to warming waters, will lead to a total sea level rise of one to two metres by 2100.

Similarly, a commission of 20 international experts, called on by the Dutch government to help plan its coastal defences, recently gave a range of 55cm to 1.1 metres for sea-level rises by 2100. "Equally important, this commission has highlighted the fact that sea-level rise will not stop in the year 2100," said Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "By 2200, they estimate a rise of 1.5 to 3.5m unless we stop the warming. This would spell the end of many of our coastal cities."

This point was backed by Dr Jason Lowe of the Hadley Centre, the UK's foremost climate change research centre. "It is still not clear exactly how much the sea will rise by the end of this century, but it is certain that rises will continue for hundreds of years beyond that - even if we do manage to stabilise carbon dioxide emissions and halt the rise in atmospheric temperature. The sea will continue to heat up and expand. In addition, the Greenland ice sheets will continue to melt," he said.
This latter effect could, ultimately, have a particularly destructive impact. Scientists have calculated that if industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases eventually produce a global temperature increase of around 4C, there is a risk that Greenland's ice covering could melt completely. This could take several hundred years or it might require a couple of thousand. The end result is not in doubt, however. It would add around seven metres to the planet's sea levels. The consequence would be utter devastation.

Such a scenario is distant, but real, scientists insist. However, at present, the most important issue, they argue, is that of short-term sea-level rises: probably around one metre by 2100. When that occurs, the Maldives will be submerged, along with islands like the Sunderbans in the Bay of Bengal, and Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific. The US - which has roughly 12,400 miles of coastline and more than 19,900 square miles of coastal wetlands - would face a bill of around $156bn to protect this land. Cities such as London would require massive investments to provide defences against the rising waters. Others, such as Alexandria, in Egypt, would simply be inundated.

Rising oceans will also contaminate both surface and underground fresh water supplies, worsening the world's existing fresh-water shortage. Underground water sources in Thailand, Israel, China and Vietnam are already experiencing salt-water contamination.

Coastal farmland will be wiped out, triggering massive displacements of men, women and children. It is estimated that a one-metre sea-level rise could flood 17% of Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, reducing its rice-farming land by 50% and leaving tens of millions without homes.

Such destruction would not be caused merely by rising sea levels, however. Other effects of global warming will also worsen the mayhem that lies ahead: in particular, the increase in major storms. "When we talk about the dangers of future sea-level rises, we are not talking about a problem akin to pouring water into a bath," added Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineering. "Climate-change research shows there will be significant increases in storms as global temperatures rise. These will produce more intense gales and hurricanes and these, in turn, will produce massive storm surges as they pass over the sea."

The result will be the appearance of the super-surge, a climatic double whammy that will savage low-lying regions that include Britain's south-eastern coastline, in particular East Anglia and the Thames Estuary, along with cities such as London, Portsmouth and Hull, which are rated as being particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise.

In addition to these hotspots, the country will also face massive disruption to its transport and energy systems unless it acts swiftly, according to a report - Climate Change, Adapting to the Inevitable - published last month by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Many rail lines run along river valleys that will be flooded with increased regularity while bridges carrying trains and lorries often cross shipping lanes and may have to be redesigned to accommodate rising water levels.

"Power supplies will also be affected," added Brown. "The Sizewell B nuclear plant has been built on the Suffolk coast, a site that has been earmarked for the construction of several more nuclear plants. However, Sizewell will certainly be affected by rising sea levels. Engineers say they can build concrete walls that will keep out the water throughout the working lives of these new plants. But that is not enough. Nuclear plants may operate for 50 years, but it could take hundreds of years to decommission them. By that time, who knows what sea-level rises and what kinds of inundations the country will be experiencing?"

Most scientists believe Britain remains relatively well placed to combat sea-level rises. "The government has been fairly far-sighted over this issue, with projects such as Thames Estuary 2100 being set up to prepare flooding defence projects," said Professor Robert Nicholls, of Southampton University.

This does not stop the controversy, however. In its report, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers warned that many areas would have to be abandoned because they are simply too expensive to protect. In particular, large areas of the Norfolk coastline would be left to be inundated, a massive loss of human habitat.

But this approach represents an abrogation of national duty to many people - particularly those whose homes will be destroyed, individuals such as Martin George, former chairman of the Broads Society. "A country that has the technological know-how to extract oil and coal from below the North Sea should surely be capable of finding a way to protect a concrete sea wall against the effects of climate change. We should do our damnedest to safeguard our heritage," he said.
• Additional research by Lisa Kjellsson
Why the sea is rising

• Thermal expansion. All bodies expand when they are heated, and that is true for the water that covers 70 per cent of the planet. The oceans are expanding - upwards. It is estimated this increase in volume will raise levels by 10-40 cms.
• Melting glaciers and mountain ice caps - outside Greenland and Antarctica - are also adding water to rivers that flow to the oceans. However, these remain a modest source of sea-level rise. Possibly around 10 cms.
• The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets represent vast reserves of frozen fresh water. The former would add 7m to sea levels if melted completely; the latter would bring a further 60m rise to the levels of the world's oceans.


Auburn Boy
03-08-2009, 04:14 PM
But, but, but..,

I thought all that GLOBAL WARMING stuff was just B**LS**T!!!

03-14-2009, 10:03 AM
Scientist: Warming Could Cut Population to 1 Billion

By James Kanter

COPENHAGEN — A scientist known for his aggressive stance on climate policy made an apocalyptic prediction on Thursay.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said that if the buildup of greenhouse gases and its consequences pushed global temperatures 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today — well below the upper temperature range that scientists project could occur from global warming — Earth’s population would be devastated. [UPDATED, 6:10 p.m: The preceding line was adjusted to reflect that Dr. Schellnhuber was not describing a worst-case warming projection. h/t to Joe Romm.]

“In a very cynical way, it’s a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something –- namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people,” said Dr. Schellnhuber, who has advised German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate policy and is a visiting professor at Oxford.

At that temperature, there would be “no fluctuations anymore, we can be fairly sure,” said Dr. Schellnhuber, exercising his characteristically dark sense of humor at the morning plenary session on the closing day of an international climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. [Earlier post: The conference organizers have sought to jog policymakers with a stronger assessment of global warming's risks, but some scientists warned the approach could backfire.]

“What a triumph,” Dr. Schellnhuber said. “On the other hand do we want this alternative? I think we can do much, much better,” he told the conference.

Dr. Schellnhuber, citing his own research, said that at certain “tipping points,” higher temperatures could cause areas of the ocean to become deoxygenated, resulting in what he calls “oxygen holes” between 600 and 2,400 feet deep. These are areas so depleted of the gas that they would badly disrupt the food chain.

Unabated warming would also lead to “disruption of the monsoon, collapse of the Amazon rain forest and the Greenland ice sheet will meltdown,” he said.

But on the bright side, he noted, in a joking reference to the meeting’s Danish hosts, the retreat of the sheath of ice covering Greenland, which is Danish-controlled territory, “would increase your usable land by, I don’t know, 10,000 percent.”
“But I’m not sure whether you want to do this,” he said.


03-26-2009, 05:43 PM
The ice caps are in trouble
http://images.smh.com.au/2009/03/24/430532/470_arctic_icebreaker-470x0.jpg To the ends of the earth ... icebreaker Louis S. St Laurent makes its way through ice in Baffin Bay, Canada. Scientists predict summer ice will soon disappear from the region.
Photo: AP

March 23, 2009

Polar ice is melting at such an alarming rate the rest of the world can't help but feel the heat, reports Marian Wilkinson.

Before the summer heatwave hit Australia in January, climate scientists around the world were already turning their attention in our direction.
The popular belief that Antarctica might be resistant to global warming was punctured with new research based on data from satellites and weather stations, confirming that for the past 50 years, much of the continent has been warming at the same rate as the rest of the planet.
Antarctica is split into two huge ice sheets: east and west, separated by mountains. Because the Eastern Antarctic ice sheet has been extremely cold and stable, many believed it would hold down temperatures across the vast continent. But the new data found West Antarctica has been warming faster than previously believed, "meaning that on average the continent has gotten warmer", says Eric Steig, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington.

Until recently it was mainly the fragile Antarctic Peninsula, jutting up from West Antarctica towards South America, that was seen as vulnerable to global warming. The peninsula was already warming more rapidly than much of the rest of the world, with temperatures rising 2.5 degrees in the past 50 years and ice loss increasing 140 per cent in a decade. Around the peninsula, ice shelves have broken up or disappeared, exposing the glaciers on the land behind them and speeding up the discharge of ice and fresh water into the ocean. As Dr Ian Allison of the Australian Antarctic Division explains, this activity on the peninsula appears to be linked to air and water temperatures rising.

So far, Australian scientists say, the main Western Antarctic ice sheet, outside the peninsula, is still cold enough to resist the melting of its surface. If this 900,000-square-kilometre ice sheet were to succumb to melting, it holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by five metres, swamping coastal regions from the Indian sub-continent to south Florida.
That is not expected to happen in this century or even the next. But, disturbingly, glaciers on the Western Antarctic ice sheet are also discharging more ice and water into the ocean. Scientists are trying to find why this is happening, whether there is a link to global warming or whether there is a natural glaciological explanation.

The role of global warming in the melting of the Greenland ice sheet is clearer, says Allison, the co-chairman of International Polar Year, a global research effort that focused on the Arctic and the Antarctic during 2007 and 2008.

"Greenland is of major concern," Allison says. "In Greenland, the rate of ice loss is getting greater over the last 10 years and the surface [ice] melt is definitely related to the warming."

The Polar Year leaders concluded: "It now appears certain that both the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass and thus raising sea level and that the rate of ice loss from Greenland is growing.

"The potential for these ice sheets to undergo further rapid ice discharge remains the largest unknown in projections of the rate of sea level rise by the (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

Allison and many of the world's top climate scientists met in Copenhagen last week to update the warnings on climate change that the intergovernmental panel delivered in 2007. The findings, including the threat of sea-level rise, will be given to political leaders before they meet to debate the new global climate agreement at the end of the year.

When the UN Environment Program delivered its annual review on the planet last month, it gave a blunt warning on climate change: "The potential for runaway greenhouse warming is real and has never been more clear."

Among the danger signs noted in the report are the shrinking Arctic sea ice and the accelerating melting rates in Greenland and Antarctica. Last year, the Arctic sea ice shrank to its second-lowest extent since satellite monitoring began in 1979. The previous low was the summer of 2007. "Taken together, the two summers have no parallel," the report says.

In 2007 and 2008, an ice-free channel opened in the famous Northwest Passage in Arctic Canada, the passage where many colonial navigators perished when they were trapped by sea ice. But last year also marked the opening of the Northern Sea Route along the Siberian coast in the Arctic. "The two passages have probably not been open simultaneously since before the last ice age, 100,000 years ago," the report finds.

The Arctic is not only warming faster than most of the rest of world, the warming is feeding back on itself. As the reflective snow and ice disappear in the northern summer and are replaced by dark sea, more heat is being drawn into the Arctic. There are now some scientists predicting there will be an ice-free Arctic summer by 2012. More cautious scientists still say we could see this by 2030.

Dr Don Perovich, a research scientist with the US Army Cold Regions Research Laboratories, explained the enormity of this event in simple language: "You might say, `Well, OK, what if we have an ice-free summer Arctic? Is that a big deal?' As near as we can tell, looking at the historical record, there's been ice in the Arctic in the summer for at least 16 million years, so this would be a big difference."

The ramifications of the warming will not be confined to the poles because weather patterns are likely to change. As scientist Mark Serreze, from the US Snow and Ice Data Centre, explains, the poles are like the Earth's refrigerators. "What we're doing by getting rid of that [Arctic] sea ice is radically changing the nature of that refrigerator," he says.

"We're making it much less efficient. But everything is connected, so what happens up there eventually influences what happens in other parts of the globe."

Since the intergovernmental panel delivered its findings, it had been widely accepted that the planet's warming is almost certainly due to human-induced climate change. The causes are principally the burning of fossil fuels, cement manufacture and land clearing, all of which release greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite the scientific warnings and the promises of politicians, these emissions are still growing at an unprecedented rate. The Arctic contains large amounts of carbon in the form of methane that until now has been locked in permafrost on the land and below the Arctic Ocean bed. Two studies last year found there could be double the amount of carbon in the permafrost as there is in the atmosphere.

Large areas of Alaska's permafrost are within just one or two degrees of thawing. If the Arctic keeps warming, the unfreezing of the permafrost and the release of carbon could rapidly increase the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and in turn accelerate warming.

Dr Ted Scambos, of the Snow and Ice Data Centre, warns: "What will happen, I think, is that we'll get this whole new source of CO2 [carbon dioxide] and methane from the thawing permafrost that we won't easily be able to shut off, even if we get our act together."


03-28-2009, 07:19 PM
'Extreme Ice': Seeing is believing on glacial melting

Film shows at Aspen Environmental Forum

Scott Condon ([email protected])
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN — Probably no bit of information presented at the Aspen Environment Forum was as sobering as the screening of the film “Extreme Ice” at the Wheeler Opera House Thursday night.

The documentary used time-lapse photography to show how the biggest glaciers in the world are disappearing because of global warming. “Seeing is believing” is the motto for the film and for the Extreme Ice Survey, a research project sponsored by National Geographic.

Photojournalist James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey team installed 27 time-lapse cameras at 15 sites in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and other places to document the dramatic retreat of the ice floes.

The general information wasn’t new for anyone paying attention to climate change issues. It’s well known, for example, that Glacier National Park in Montana will soon be without glaciers.

But “Extreme Ice” provides stunning visual evidence that goes well beyond comparisons of still photographs from different years. The time-lapse photography shows the big glaciers melting away like a plastic bread wrapper on fire.

Many of Balog’s photographs are artistically stunning as well. You can feel Balog’s stated pain as he photographs broken chunks of glaciers getting carried out to sea by the tide. It’s like he is lamenting the death of an endangered animal. In another scene, he shows how the melting ice has uncovered a layer where dirt and debris collected. He exclaims that the glacier seems lifeless and you know what he means from the image.

But he also displayed the beauty of the glaciers. In one harrowing scene, Balog rappels into a chasm opened by a torrent of water gushing from a melting glacier. The ice is layered just like sandstone in the canyon country of Utah. He captures the cool blue of the ice in other pictures.

Video also shows massive chunks of ice collapsing into water and, most remarkably, popping up from the water like a cork.

See this strangely beautiful piece for yourself. Go to http://www.extremeicesurvey.org/ (http://www.extremeicesurvey.org/).

http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20090328/NEWS/903279928/1077&ParentProfile=1058&title=Seeing%20is%20believing%20on%20glacial%20mel ting

04-07-2009, 10:53 PM
Icy lands melting at accelerating pace

Greenland, Antarctica, and Alaska are all suffering due to climate change.
By PlentyMag.com (http://www.mnn.com/users/plenty)
Tue, Apr 07 2009

Greenland is melting, and fast. That’s the gist of the findings that will be presented on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (http://www.agu.org/) in San Francisco. The water melting from Greenland in the past five years would fill up about 11 Chesapeake Bays, according to the AP (http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/264/story/546561.html).

Oh, but it gets worse. In addition to Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have also taken a hit (http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/264/story/546561.html) from global warming. The three areas combined have lost more than 2 trillion tons of land ice since 2003, which is when NASA first began taking estimates.

And as it turns out, there’s a big difference between the impacts of melting land ice versus melting sea ice. When sea ice melts, it doesn’t have much effect on sea levels because the ice itself is already taking up space in the water. But land ice is a different story. Once it melts, it makes its way from the land to the sea, hence rising sea levels. As the AP reports,Greenland is adding about half a millimeter of sea level rise each year. Plus, between Greenland, Antarctica, and Alaska, melting land ice has raised global sea levels about one-fifth of an inch in the past five years.

But the bad news doesn’t end there. Once the ice has melted into the sea, it’s hardly dormant. Since water expands as it warms, rising temperatures mean that sea levels will only continue to expand (i.e. rise) as the water warms. Unfortunately, in a world where everything is connected, water is hardly the only element affected by the warming taking place.

As sea ice melts, the Arctic waters absorb more heat in the summer, having lost the reflective powers of vast packs of white ice. That absorbed heat is released into the air in the fall. That has led to autumn temperatures in the last several years that are six to 10 degrees warmer than they were in the 1980s, said research scientist Julienne Stroeve at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. (source: AP)

“That's a strong and early impact of global warming,” said (http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/264/story/546561.html) Stroeve.

Arctic thawing also means that more methane, which is trapped under permafrost in places like Alaska, will be released into the atmosphere. Methane is 20 times more effective (http://www.epa.gov/methane/) in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, so it’s safe to say that methane is not something we’d like to see more of in the atmosphere anytime soon.

So how are Greenlanders reacting to all of this startling news? Surprisingly well, according to Greenland’s Foreign Minister, Inuuteq Holm Olsen, in a recent Plenty Q&A (http://www.plentymag.com/features/2008/12/foucus_greenland_qa_with_deput.php). Though Olsen acknowledges global warming’s negative impacts (like the damage to infrastructure due to melting permafrost and an increase in violent storms), he also mentions that there can be positive effects to Greenland’s melting, like more fresh water for developing hydroelectric power plants; increased accessibility to minerals; and a prolonged growing season.

“For the first time in my life, a couple of weeks ago, I could buy cabbages grown in Greenland,” Olsen says.

Optimism is no doubt needed during a period of such troubled waters. But let’s hope that Greenland’s cheerfulness doesn’t keep it from doing its part in Copenhagen next year (http://www.copenhagenclimatecouncil.com/) during the UN Climate Summit. With a problem as global as warming, it’s crucial that everybody is on board with curbing climate change—even if that means sacrificing their fresh cabbages.


04-11-2009, 11:04 AM
ENVIRONMENT: Earth's Arctic Freezer Turning Into Hothouse
By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Apr 10 (IPS) - The world is losing its northern freezer as Arctic winter ice is in sharp decline, NASA scientists reported this week. Even with below average winter temperatures, Arctic ice is thinner and covers less area than it did a decade ago.

Arctic sea ice is the cooling mechanism for the global climate system. As it declines and the region warms - already three to five degrees Celsius warmer - then inevitably there are local, regional and hemispheric climate impacts.

"We’ve already lost one third of the summer ice cover since the 1980s. There are already impacts from this," says Ron Kwok of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

"A completely ice-free summer by 2013 is not impossible," Kwok said in a telephone news conference. "You would have been laughed out the room if you suggested this five years ago."

The new study shows that the maximum extent of the 2008-2009 winter sea ice cover was the fifth-lowest since researchers began collecting such information 30 years ago. The past six years have produced the six lowest maximums in that record.

More stunning, and indicative of the rapid warming of the region, is the decline in the thick, hard-to-melt multi-year ice, says Walter Meier, research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado. Multiyear ice is ice that is two or more years old and therefore doesn't melt in the summer.

"Less than 10 percent is multiyear now. It used to be 30 percent in 1981," Meier said at the news conference.

Polar amplification is the reason why climate change is warming the Arctic far faster than anywhere else. A combination of processes and feedbacks in the region have resulted a three to five degree Celsius warming already. In 50 to 100 years time if average global temperature rises three degrees Celsius, the Arctic freezer will be a hothouse - at least 10 degrees Celsius warmer.

"The polar cryosphere has long existed as a buffer against [global] climate warming to an extent," Dick Peltier, Director of the Centre for Global Change Science at the University of Toronto, told IPS.

The Earth’s great northern freezer is undergoing "great transformations of energy" away from cooling and shifting to warming. More ice melt means more open water resulting in more of the sun’s energy being trapped in the Arctic Ocean and warming water temperatures. That means winter freeze-up comes later, the ice is thinner, and more likely to melt when summer returns. This positive feedback loop is already operating and the meltdown of the Arctic sea ice looks to be irreversible he says.

"It's a bit like a flywheel now able to turn with reckless abandon."

The loss of Arctic sea ice won’t raise sea levels directly but as it acts to warm the entire region that will affect the massive Greenland ice sheet. If the whole ice sheet were to melt it would result in a six to seven-metre sea-level rise. Recent studies report thinning at the margins of the Greenland ice sheet, an increased fresh water discharge from outlet glaciers, and a significant increase in surface melt, NASA reported in a release.

The current Arctic meltdown is already changing the local climate and having impacts on northern peoples, Meier said.

"No Arctic ice in the summer will result in profound changes," says Peltier.

Meanwhile weather patterns in the Arctic have already changed with a northward deepening of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), says Peltier. The NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the Arctic and North Atlantic.

The jet stream has also shifted further north as the Arctic warms. The jet stream is a fast-flowing westward current of air approx 10 kilometres above the ground. It is the boundary zone between the warm tropical air mass of the south and the cold polar Arctic air mass. Less ice in the Arctic weakens the cold polar air and the jet, while continuing its ebb and flow as seen on daily weather maps, is incrementally pushing northwards altering local weather patterns.

"There has been a northward shift in precipitation, with more rain falling on the northern boreal regions while the southern U.S. is becoming drier," says Peltier. Although those observed changes are not directly attributable to the Arctic ice loss, but to climate change overall. However there is no doubt that the Arctic meltdown "will eventually affect our weather," he says.

The rapid warming of the Arctic has happened so quickly that scientists have only begun to study what the potential implications may be. Chief among their concerns is the vast region of permafrost that covers one quarter of the land surface of the Northern hemisphere. The permanently frozen bog and peatland contains enormous amounts of organic carbon - perhaps enough to triple the amount currently in the atmosphere, as previously reported by IPS.

As the permafrost melts carbon dioxide and the more potent greenhouse gas methane is released. And that seems to have been the case during the extremely warm northern summer of 2007 when global atmospheric methane levels shot up by several million tonnes after having been stable for more than a decade. However there is no smoking gun pointing to permafrost.

"Our abilities to detect how much and where methane is being released is really bad," says Peltier. And there is no "predictive capacity" to get some insight into what might happen to permafrost and when. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made permafrost a priority for its next major report in four or five years time, he said. "There is clear potential for large methane releases."



04-14-2009, 07:41 PM
The impact of temperature rises

LESS than 2 degrees. Arctic sea ice cap disappears, leaving polar bears homeless. Now expected by 2030 or earlier. Hotter ocean waters kill off most coral and flatten marine biodiversity. Droughts, heatwaves and fires spread through the subtropics.

2-3 degrees. Summer heatwaves occur annually. Temperatures reach the low 40s in southern England. Amazon rainforest is replaced by desert. Oceans are increasingly acidic, wiping out many species of plankton, the basis of the marine food chain. Several metres of sea level rise as Greenland ice sheet disappears.

3-4 degrees. Glacier and snow-melt depletes freshwater flows to downstream cities and agricultural land. Most affected are California, Peru, Pakistan and China. Global food production is under threat as key bread baskets in Europe, Asia and the US suffer drought, and heatwaves outstrip the tolerance of crops.

4-5 degrees. Massive amounts of methane are released by melting Siberian permafrost. Much human habitation in southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and other subtropical areas is unviable due to excessive heat. Temperatures remain cool enough at the poles for crops, and rainfall — with severe floods — persists. All sea ice is gone from both poles; mountain glaciers are gone from Andes, Alps and Rockies.

5-6 degrees. Global average temperatures are now hotter than for 50 million years. The entire Arctic is ice-free year round. Most of the tropics, subtropics and even lower mid-latitudes are inhabitable. Coastal cities across the world are largely abandoned.

6 degrees and above. Most sea life is dead. Human refuges confined to highland areas and polar regions. Human population is drastically cut. Perhaps 90 per cent of species extinct.


04-14-2009, 08:48 PM
Major Studies Reveal State of the Poles

Published on April 14th, 2009
This month, as the results of data analyses come in climate scientists are getting a more detailed, far clearer picture of the ‘State of the Poles’ and the effects of warming and climate change in these most extreme regions of our planet. Although this project is actually the culmination of two years work, some 160 separate studies and over a billion dollars it has been officially deemed the ‘International Polar Year’ (IPY).

One of the most important findings of this project is a confirmation of what many climate scientists have suspected for a couple of years now–that the impact of climate change on our environment is happening at a much faster rate than previous computer models predicted. This is true even for the four major reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the last of which was released in 2007).

Other important findings: the ice masses that cover Antarctica and Greenland are indeed diminishing and contributing to a rise in sea levels. As the reader may know, this question of total (net) loss of ice mass–especially with regards to Greenland–has been a point of contention both within the science community, and also with opponents of anthropogenic climate change. There was some earlier data suggesting that, while the rate of melting at the outer “fingers” of Greenland’s glaciers and their movement towards the sea was increasing, the central ice mass was also increasing (due to a short term increase in snow accumulation, etc.). But based on the results of these more comprehensive and more accurate studies the contention–or confusion–is apparently over and resolved, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Science, sponsors of IPY. Officials at these two organizations believe that they now have accumulated enough concrete scientific evidence on which to base their climate policy recommendations.
Another troubling confirmation: Arctic permafrost is thawing, most likely due to a rise (over the past 35 years) in the average Arctic temperature of 1° to 2 ° Celsius (one degree of Celsius or centigrade is equal to 1.8 degrees of Fahrenheit). This is a sufficient rise to allow thawing of permafrost. The concern here is that the millions of tons of organic matter that currently is contained by the permafrost “seal”, will begin decomposing–releasing large quantities of both CO2 and Methane gas, two major green house gases (note: methane gas, CH4, also destroys ozone, O3). This, it is predicted, will further tip the balance towards a “runaway greenhouse effect”.

But predicting the exact nature and timing of climate change in different locales is difficult due to unique geographic conditions (which can either augment or mitigate warming effects) and the interplay of positive and negative feedback loops constituting the global climate system. Still, these new studies will provide better data for far more accurate climate models–computer simulations that are actually highly accurate in the short term.

So, it seems that over the next few years we will likely see the clear impact of global warming and climate change on our local and global environments (as opposed to just seeing it on television documentaries).

The poles, being covered largely by (white) ice, reflect a great deal of sunlight back into space. Little heat is absorbed under typical conditions, and these regions remain extremely cold. This is known as the albido effect. Currently, the North Pole appears to be losing some of it’s albido functioning. Even slight warming at the poles can alter this process–producing less snowfall, which translates into less ice mass…more heat absorbed by newly exposed water, more fragmenting and melting of ice caps, etc….pushing the poles into (possibly) a ‘positive feedback cycle’ of more and more heat absorption and ice melting.

The impact of this warming and potential positive feedback cycle on polar animal life and ocean fisheries, is the focus of other long-term census studies currently under way.


04-16-2009, 07:05 PM
I included a spreadsheet in this post that is almost unreadable but from that you can include that if the Greenland ice fall of is 150 Giga tons a year the energy needed to melt it is 11963241,4 Kilotons and that is a lot of nuclear bombs exploded.

Ice needs a lot more energy to melt than water to heat 1 degree, 80 times more.

So the more ice falls of the colder the climate will get as there is not enough sunlight (heat) to melt it and it will take the heat from the atmosphere.

Now when we include the melting south pole and north pole with the alps, a definite ice age is coming as the cooling affect of the melting ice will be over 99999999999 Kilotons.

Sorry for the crappy spreadsheet.

Interesting though the falling if ice reaches in the shape of a milk carton to the moon 10 times an hour end to end and to the sun twice a week (more than the US bailout) so the water level is definitely going to go up, and I am moving to higher grounds.

Had to download winzip from http://www.oldversion.com/WinZip.html no xls spread sheets or rar files accepted here but that’s cool. Its in there.

04-17-2009, 11:45 PM
I included a spreadsheet in this post that is almost unreadable but from that you can include that if the Greenland ice fall of is 150 Giga tons a year the energy needed to melt it is 11963241,4 Kilotons and that is a lot of nuclear bombs exploded.

Ice needs a lot more energy to melt than water to heat 1 degree, 80 times more....

What's your point?

"Why Isn't Earth Hot as an Oven?"
Sunlight is the source of energy for the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, land, and biosphere. This energy serves to heat the Earth to temperatures far above the minus 454 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Kelvin) of deep space. Averaged over an entire year and the entire Earth, the sun deposits 342 Watts of energy into every square meter of the Earth. This is a very large amount of heat—4.4 x 10 16 watts of power that the sun sends to the Earth/ atmosphere system. For comparison, a large electric power plant would produce 100 million watts of power, or 10 8 watts. It would take 440 million such power plants to equal the energy coming to the Earth from the sun—roughly one for every ten people on the Earth! Where does all the Sun's heat go? Why doesn’t the Earth just keep getting hotter?

Most of the sun’s heat is deposited into the tropics of the Earth. This is because the Earth’s rotational axis is almost perpendicular to the plane of Earth’s orbit around the sun. The polar latitudes receive on average much less solar heating than the equator. If the tilt of the Earth’s axis were exactly perpendicular to the orbit plane around the sun, then there would be no seasons! Climate in January would be the same as climate in April or July, all over the Earth. But the Earth’s rotational axis tilts 23.5 degrees away from perpendicular. Consequently, during one part of the orbit around the sun, the North Pole will be tilted 23.5 degrees toward the sun and willbe in sunlight 24 hours a day. Six months later at the opposite side of the orbit around the sun, the North Pole will be in total darkness 24 hours a day. Why is this important? The amount of solar heating of the polar latitudes varies greatly through the year. In the summer, polar latitudes receive almost as much solar energy as the tropics, while in the winter they receive no solar heat at all. Meanwhile, the tropics receive by comparison roughly constant solar heating throughout the year (hence the small seasonal cycles there). As a result, in the winter hemisphere, the difference in solar heating between the equator and the pole is very large—a situation perfect for driving a strong "heat engine," or circulation of the atmosphere. This energy difference drives large mid-latitude storm systems as heat moves from the surplus in the equator to the deficit in the polar regions. In contrast, the summer has very similar heating at the equator and poles, such that the heat engine slows down, and mid-latitude storms lose their source of energy. Summer storms tend to be very small scale and local.

Solar heating of the Earth and its atmosphere drives the large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns, and even the seasons. The difference in solar heating between day and night also drives the strong diurnal (or daily) cycle of surface temperature over land. But with all this solar heating going on, we still haven’t answered our earlier question: Why doesn’t the Earth just keep getting hotter?

The answer might be loosely called the yang and yin, or the "duality of radiation fluxes." At the same time the solar energy that we can see with our eyes is heating the planet, there is radiation being emitted at much longer wavelengths that our eyes do not see—called "thermal infrared radiation" (basically heat). The amount of heat emitted from a solid surface is proportional to the fourth power of the temperature of the surface. So as the temperature of the Earth rises, it rapidly emits and loses to space an increasing amount of heat. If the Earth were a ball of rock with no atmosphere, a simple calculation that equates the solar energy absorbed by the Earth to the heat emitted by the Earth would predict the global average Earth temperature to be 0 degrees Fahrenheit, or 255 Kelvin—very cold, and not the Earth as we know it (this scenario assumes that an average rock reflects 30 percent of all light that hits it).

Earth's Invisible Blanket
Atmospheric gases, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide, absorb the heat emitted from the surface, capturing it in the atmosphere (Figure 1). Because atmospheric temperature decreases with altitude, the heat emission of the atmosphere is at a much lower temperature than the surface. So the Earth and atmosphere keep heating up until the heat emitted roughly balances with the amount of sunlight absorbed. This trapping of heat by carbon dioxide and water vapor is typically called the "greenhouse effect," and these gases are referred to as "greenhouse gases." It is the increase in these gases with time (led by carbon dioxide release from burning oil, gas, and coal) that leads to the potential for future climate change. In fact, most theoretical models predict that as temperatures in the atmosphere increase, the amount of water vapor will increase, thereby acting as a "positive feedback" loop to further increase atmospheric temperatures.....



04-18-2009, 10:29 PM
Artist Records Glacier's Sounds from the Deep

http://media.npr.org/programs/wesun/features/2007/jul/glacier200.jpg (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);) http://download.npr.org/anon.npr-www/chrome/icon_enlarge.gifEnlarge (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);)

July 29, 2007 · Artist Katie Paterson is recording the last gasps of Vatnajokull Glacier before it disappears into the ocean.

The Glaswegian artist documented a week in the erosion of Europe's largest glacier using a waterproof microphone in the lagoon at the edge of the glacier. She shared the sound with the rest of the world using a phone line and amplifier linked to the microphone.
at link

04-19-2009, 11:47 AM
Rick Holmes: Action on global warming - at last

By Rick Holmes

Sat Apr 18, 2009, 05:11 PM EDT

- Americans remain deeply divided over global warming, much more so than scientists. For the last eight years, that division -- and Big Oil's clout in Washington -- has provided an excuse for the American government not to do anything about climate change.

But the people now running the government aren't accepting that excuse any more. Citizens are free to keep debating whether the threat is real or exaggerated, but in the meantime, the White House and the Congress are ready for action, and not a minute too soon.

Action begins this week in the House of Representatives, where Rep. Ed Markey will hold hearings on his bill establishing rules, goals and incentives to reduce America's production of greenhouse gases. He hopes to get a bill out of committee by Memorial Day. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promises the House will act by the end of July.

President Barack Obama has his own timetable. He'd like to sign a green energy bill before the next round of international climate change negotiations begins in Copenhagen in December.

Markey is the latest Massachusetts Democrat charged with carrying the ball on a major administration initiative. Pelosi named him to chair the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming two years ago, and this year replaced a climate conservative who chaired the Commerce and Energy Committee, John Dingell of Michigan, with an environmental champion from California, Henry Waxman.

The draft bill, written by Markey and Waxman, will require 25 percent of the nation's electricity come from renewable sources by 2025. It will require more energy efficiency, from kitchen appliances to power plants. It sets a goal of reducing carbon emissions 83 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, and creates a cap-and-trade system to make it happen.

Will it pass? Only if Markey can convince affected industries that there's something in it for them. He's telling power generators a cap-and-trade system will provide more predictable energy prices than the roller-coaster ride we've all been on these last couple of years. He's telling the steel industry that it will make more producing steel for wind turbines than it will save by keeping coal prices low. He's throwing billions into carbon sequestration research even though environmentalists consider "clean coal" a pipedream. If someone can figure out a way to inexpensively get the carbon out of the emissions from coal-burning power plants, reductions in greenhouse gases could be swift and dramatic. Besides, Markey needs coal-state votes for his bill.

But if the bill stalls, Obama has a Plan B. Environmentalists spent most of the Bush administration trying to get the Environmental Protection Administration to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Bush resisted, claiming the EPA had no such power. Massachusetts and other states challenged that claim, and in 2007, the Supreme Court agreed.
The Bush White House continued to stall, but there's a new president now. Friday, the EPA announced it had concluded the science is "compelling and overwhelming" that "greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations."

The political message in that announcement: Either work with Congress to enact green energy legislation, or the EPA will come up with its own regulations.

In the weeks to come, opponents of governmental action to combat global warming will continue to try to discredit the conclusions of the EPA, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and most knowledgeable scientists. It is an unfortunate characteristic of these times that scientific inquiry has been infected by political agendas.

But that won't stop Markey. If anything, he told me during a recent visit to Framingham, Mass., "science probably understates the magnitude of the problem."

He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went to Greenland, he said, where they felt "ice-quakes" deep below them. The ice-quakes have been increasing in frequency, a sign that the ice cap is slipping on the land below. One of global warming's nightmare scenarios involves Greenland's ice breaking up and slipping into the Atlantic, raising sea levels around the world.

It's happened before. In a report published last week, scientists studying fossil coral reefs concluded that during the last warm interlude between ice ages, sea levels rose as much as 10 feet over a 50- to 100-year span.
That could happen quickly, well before the U.S. reaches Markey's 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goal - assuming Congress doesn't water down that goal or fall short of meeting it. The trendlines and probabilities and tipping points that guide climate change aren't waiting for Obama to find 60 votes in the Senate.

As columnist Gwynne Dyer noted in this space a week ago, "If there's going to be a 40-day flood, you either build an ark or you learn to breathe underwater. Building half an ark is not a useful option."

Markey makes no predictions. "I will do whatever the politics will allow," he told me. That's Obama's attitude as well.

But Markey is an optimist, especially when it comes to technology. For more than 30 years, he's had a front-row seat on the House Telecommunications Subcommittee. He watched what the breakup of AT&T and more effective regulation has done to spark the digital revolution. We went from black rotary telephones in an age when a long-distance call was a special event, to cell phones and broadband and home satellite dishes in a couple of decades.

That can happen with energy, too - and some of it is happening right here. Markey touts A123, a Watertown company that is already making batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles, and 1366, a Lexington solar panel firm with MIT roots, which promises to make solar energy as cheap as coal by 2012, and American Superconductor of Westborough, which is developing efficient power cables for tomorrow's energy grid.

A clean, green energy system is ready to be born, Markey said. But Washington will have to be its midwife, and Washington is finally ready to step up.

"We have to get started," he said. "We're already a decade behind."


05-08-2009, 08:26 PM
Will the Sun’s Decreased Activity Mean Another Little Ice Age?

May 08, 2009 05:30 PM
by Haley A. Lovett (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/employees/audience-dev/haley-a-lovett.html)
The sun may be heading into a century-long period of low activity, like the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century, but global warming may prevent another Little Ice Age.
Sun Is Getting Dimmer, Less Active (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/science/2009/may/Will-the-Sun-s-Decreased-Activity-Mean-Another-Little-Ice-Age-.html#0)
Sunspots, the sources of solar activity such as solar flares, had a slow year in 2008, only being observed on about 25 percent of days. But 2009 might be even less active. At the beginning of April NASA reported that sunspots had only been observed on 12 out of the 90 days of the year thus far. In 2008 the sun saw it’s quietest year since 1913, but 2009 might bring even less activity.

Since 1996 the sun’s brightness has dimmed .02 percent at wavelengths visible to the human eye; ultra violet wavelengths have dimmed 6 percent. Solar wind seems to have dropped 20 percent in that same time period, and radio emissions recorded by NASA are down as well.

The sun normally goes through 11-year cycles of activity. The bottom of the activity cycle was 2008, and 2013 is supposed to be the year of maximum activity this sun cycle. But according to New Scientist, the sun also experiences longer high and low cycles that last much longer periods of time, and it is thought that we are currently in a high cycle that has lasted almost 80 years. Scientists in Greenland analyzed the isotopes that were trapped in ancient ice to chart high cycles from the last 10,000 years. They estimate that we may reach a low by 2020.

Opinion: What would a cooler sun mean for Earth? (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/science/2009/may/Will-the-Sun-s-Decreased-Activity-Mean-Another-Little-Ice-Age-.html#1)

Sources in this Story

NASA: How Low Can It Go? Sun Plunges into the Quietest Solar Minimum in a Century (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/solar_minimum09.html)
New Scientist: Danger ahead as the Sun goes quiet (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126903.700-danger-ahead-as-the-sun-goes-quiet.html)
Kansas City Star: Theories on calmer sun flare up (http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/1183017.html)
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: The Sun’s Chilly Impact on Earth (http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20011207iceage.html)
findingDulcinea: Severe Solar Flares Could Cause Catastrophic Power Outage in United States (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/science/2009/march/Severe-Solar-Flares-Could-Cause-Catastrophic-Power-Outage-in-United-States.html)

Although a decline in solar activity might mean fewer dangers from solar flares, there are drawbacks to a less active sun.

New Scientist points out that decreased solar winds would allow more harmful cosmic rays to make it into the solar system, and astronauts would be in greater danger of getting cancer or other complications if exposed to those rays. The Kansas City Star suggests that if the debated correlation between clouds on Earth and cosmic rays turns out to be true, a less active sun might create fewer clouds on Earth, which could mean we’d lose the protective blocking and the warming effect of clouds.

As for an overall cooling of the Earth, some scientists say that it is possible. Nigel Weiss told New Scientist that overall cooling would be less than 1 degree Fahrenheit. Weiss and at least two other scientists, astrophysicists Angela Speck and Adrian Merlott, note that any change in temperature due to a decrease in sun activity would be small in comparison to the potential climate change from global warming. “My worry,” Merlott told the Kansas City Star,” is that it will lower temperatures and cause people to think it’s OK to burn all that coal and oil.”

Background: The Little Ice Age (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/science/2009/may/Will-the-Sun-s-Decreased-Activity-Mean-Another-Little-Ice-Age-.html#2)

As scientists continue to debate weather the Sun is entering a period of long-term low activity, many can’t help but think of the Maunder Minimum in the 17th century.

During the “Little Ice Age” that lasted from the 1400s to the early 1700s, sea ice increased, glaciers grew, and Greenland was cut off due to ice. One theory is that low solar activity caused a decrease in circulation on Earth (and thus less warm air was circulated to the poles) that led to the lower temperatures near the northern pole. According to NASA, the coldest part of that period was between 1645 and 1715, and was mainly due to inactivity from the sun. Scientists at the time only recorded 50 sunspots in 30 years.

One study of the Maunder Minimum by a group from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies found that while global temperatures changed very little, temperatures in regions such as North America and Europe changed quite dramatically.

Related Topics: The danger of coronal mass ejection (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/science/2009/may/Will-the-Sun-s-Decreased-Activity-Mean-Another-Little-Ice-Age-.html#3)

Solar activity is most often seen near the North Pole as the aurora borealis, but a flare from the sun can sometimes be harmful, and not just a pretty sight. At times the sun emits a huge ball of plasma all at once, traveling at incredible speeds, this is called a coronal mass ejection. If this ball of plasma were to hit the earth, it could affect satellites as well as power grids. Some scientists worry that a very large, fast coronal mass ejection could be powerful enough to destroy life as we know it (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/science/2009/march/Severe-Solar-Flares-Could-Cause-Catastrophic-Power-Outage-in-United-States.htm).


05-15-2009, 07:36 PM
Greenland Ice Sheet Melt: The Latest Simulations (http://thisbluemarble.com/blog/arxiv/23531/)

If your simulations show the catastrophic collapse of ice sheets, under what circumstances can you ignore these predictions?
Friday, May 15, 2009
When the International Panel on Climate Change published its latest projections for the future of the planet a couple of years ago, it pointed out an important caveat to its conclusions.

One question that nobody could answer was the role that various feedback mechanisms would play in the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheets. Since then, it has looked to many as if the rate of melting is increasing rapidly. That's important because the ice sheets contain enough water to increase global sea levels by more than 7 metres.

Now Ralf Greve and Shin Sugiyama at the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University in Japan, have carried out an impressive set of simulations to see how the melting will proceed. The simulations start with the current ice sheet and run until 2350.

The main feedback mechanism they consider is that meltwater streams lubricate the movement of glaciers and so speed up their rush towards the sea. So how serious is this mechanism?

Greve and Sugiyama conclude that the effect significantly accelerates the decay of the Greenland Ice Sheet as a whole in the 21st century and beyond. But that they do not expect a catastrophic decay of the ice sheet.

They predict that the Greenland ice sheets will lead to an 18 cm rise in global sea level by 2100. (That may not be catastrophic for them but it will be for many low lying regions of the world).

One interesting point is the basis on which they dismiss the possibility of a catastrophic decay of the ice sheet. The simulation depends on certain technical parameters that determine things like the surface melt rate.

Greve and Sugiyama say that for certain choices, the ice edge moves at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per year.

They dismiss this result on the basis that such speeds are unrealistic. But it's not clear, at least not to me, why such speeds should be disreguarded. Why couldn't the the catastrophic break up of a glacier lead to the ice edge moving at such speeds?

Leaving that aside, another question arises which is whether this simulation captures all the feedback mechanisms that can occur in ice sheets as they melt and fracture.

That's something that other studies need to urgently address.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0905.2027 (http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.2027): Decay of the Greenland Ice Sheet Due to Surface-Meltwater-Induced Acceleration of Basal Sliding


05-29-2009, 08:21 PM
Climate clock is ticking

For most people, news of the ice melt was little more than a distant curiosity. But for climate scientists it was the scariest thing they had seen yet, and what's more it had caught them completely by surprise.


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Pen Hadow, a member of the Catlin Arctic Survey team that is measuring how quickly Arctic ice sheets are melting, prepares to test his immersion suit at Resolute Bay.

Photograph by: MARTIN HARTLEY REUTERS, The Gazette

In the summer of 2007, a large portion of Arctic Sea ice - about 40 per cent - simply vanished. That wasn't supposed to happen. At least not yet. As recent as 2004, scientists had predicted it would take another 50 to 100 years for that much ice to melt. Yet here it was happening today.
It raised the question: Had global warming suddenly pressed the gas pedal to the floor? If so, the world was in for quite a climate ride - dramatic, jarring changes in climate much sooner than expected. Climate scientists were deeply worried.

"It really caught the scientific community by surprise," Professor James Ford, a McGill University geographer and Arctic expert recalled. "The Arctic system is close to crossing the threshold beyond which we will get dramatic changes in climate."

The sudden mass melting brought an earlier ice event into new perspective. In 2005, scientists at the Canadian Ice Service, the nation's leading ice specialists, were examining satellite images when they noticed that the Ayles Ice Shelf, which is about as big as the island of Montreal, had suddenly broken free from the top of Ellesmere Island and floated away.

Vincent Warwick, an Arctic expert at Université Laval, said at the time: "This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years. We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead."

The ice melt of 2007 seemed to confirm Warwick's fears. Reports since then claim the Arctic ice could be gone by 2013.

We have already crossed some critical climate thresholds. The world not only has to drastically cut back its greenhouse gas emissions but also begin to take steps to deal with the inevitable changes that global warming will cause. The much-feared tipping points - which would cause massive icecap and ice shield melting, and plunge the world headlong into severe weather systems, causing broad devastation and rising seas - seem increasingly probable.

This is why, scientists say, the United Nations climate talks that began this week in Bonn, Germany, and will culminate in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, are so important. They are a last chance for the world to come to its senses and negotiate an agreement to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists have been warning about these tipping points for decades, but few politicians have listened. Most industrialized countries led by the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe have continued to pump increased amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere despite promises to reduce emissions below 1990 levels.

Developing countries like China and India have taken no steps to curtail their emissions. With a new coal-fired power plant coming on stream every week, China is now the world's biggest GHG producer.

The atmosphere now contains 387 parts per million of carbon dioxide. This is more than the Earth has seen in the last 650,000 years. Pre-industrial levels were about 270 ppm, which remained pretty well constant over the 100,000 years mankind has walked the Earth. Scientists say that because of a delayed reaction, we have yet to experienced the full effect of what we already have put into the atmosphere. That effect will unravel in the decades to come. Meanwhile, we're adding about 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually or about 2 ppm. Last year alone, global GHGs increased three per cent.

Many scientists believe that we have delayed so long that this is our last chance to act. They say that even if we make cuts over the next two decades of 80 per cent in GHG emissions, our children and grandchildren will still have to cope with rising sea levels, creeping desertification and violent storm surges, not to mention the geopolitical pressure that will be placed on governments trying to deal with human migration away from devastated areas of the globe.

Over the last 20 years, the International Panel on Climate Change has been accumulating and assessing climate change evidence from thousands of scientists around the world from an array of disciplines including chemistry, physics, meteorology, biology, geology and oceanography. The data these scientists have produced has given the IPCC absolute certainty that the climate is warming and it is caused by mankind's use of fossil fuels.

"I frankly think that this Copenhagen is the last chance for us to deal with this problem," Andrew Weaver, a climate expert, IPCC contributor and author of Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World with the University of British Colombia. "I'm serious. They're vital."

"If we don't do anything now, we're going to push the world past what is known as a 2-degree-Celsius threshold, which means that we are committing it to 12 metres of sea level rise, the desertification of southern Europe and many, many other things. So, frankly, now is the time."

As representatives of the world's nations meet in Bonn, they are basing their negotiations primarily on the conclusions of the IPCC and its thousands of contributing scientists. Negotiators, however, will have to contend with the fact that many of the dire predictions of the latest IPCC report, which was delivered in 2007 are likely outdated and perhaps too optimistic. As more data is gathered and scientists sharpen their techniques, they realize that climate changes are suddenly happening faster than predicted.

"Some people are saying we have already crossed this threshold (into unstoppable, jarring changes)," Ford, who is also an IPCC contributor, said. "Others are saying ... we haven't crossed it yet, but it's pretty close. The climate is definitely changing faster than we thought, especially the Arctic. Globally as well. This really caught the scientific community by surprise. In 2002, what was involved was this idea of gradual climate change: We may see dramatic changes but towards the end of the century, not today.

"That is now changing, we are now thinking these changes are occurring quite rapidly today. Quite a few people are speculating that we are going to see even more dramatic changes quite soon."

For this reason, he said, the talks this year are "very important."
"If we fail and there is no agreement, it's going to really constrain our ability globally to address this problem."

Canadian scientists who have contributed to the IPCC reports on climate change over the last 20 years say the Canadian government in particular has been dangerously lax in addressing climate change and must show world leadership in reducing GHGs.

Dr. John Stone, a chemist at Carleton University and a leader of an IPCC working group, said Canada simply has no policy on climate change.
"They promise regulations. We still have not seen those."

He added: "I think this issue is regarded as a bit of a nuisance, in fact a big nuisance (to the Conservative government). They wish it would go away but it's not going to go away. There is a lack of action and engagement."

The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year. One of the IPCC founders is Canadian meteorologist Jim Bruce, who for years was a director of the weather service at Environment Canada. He was in Oslo when the prize was awarded. Yet, Stone noted, the federal government never invited the IPCC scientists to Ottawa for a celebration. It fell to the opposition parties to hold a reception.

"I mean what did that tell you?" he asked. "It even seems mean-spirited. Even (former U.S. president) George Bush invited the IPCC to the White House."

Stone also noted that no IPCC scientist has been asked to brief the government on climate change.

"When I was a civil servant I was forever briefing all the people," he said.
"Hypothetically, if we don't get an agreement in Copenhagen but we do in another year's time, the atmosphere, the climate will notice but not very much. But if we don't get that agreement for 10 years or so, the impacts will be really much larger. ... Time is running out."

Jim Bruce said in an interview the world has to make large emission reductions within the next 15 years.

"I'm thinking that that's to be realistic. It takes a while once you adapt some targets. It takes a while to put in place the programs and policies to implement those targets. And we have to recognize that large emissions are going to be coming from China, India, Southeast Asia and for them to begin to reduce emissions is going to be very difficult when their priority is to provide for the economy for their people."

He added "the only cheerful thing is we have this depression which may slow down the emissions for a year or two, but I think we will be back on the bandwagon driving them up very rapidly immediately afterwards if we don't come to some agreement in Copenhagen."

He said Canada is paralyzed by the worry that fighting climate change will hurt the economy. "But European countries have shown that if you take action you create new businesses in the green economy," he said.
Weaver said that when it comes to climate change, Canadians have an international reputation as "laggards and obstructionists."

"We have had so far policies of inaction, obstructionism and in some sense denial that the problem actually exists. ... I think most Canadians don't recognize how serious the issue of global warming is."
So how serious is it?

The international consensus is that we have delayed action for so long that it is "virtually certain" that future generations will have to contend with mean temperature rises of about 1.5 to 2C. That may not sound like much, but in fact it is enormous. Here are some of the repercussions scientists have concluded with 90-per-cent certainty will occur - in some cases they're already happening:

At least 30 per cent of species will be at risk of extinction due to floods, drought, wildfire, insect infestations and acidification of the oceans.
Ocean currents will slow, threatening marine life.

Tropical and semi-tropical areas will experience more frequent and deadly heat waves.

Arid and semi-arid regions like the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East, North Africa and coastal Australia will become drier and desertification will set in.

The melting of mountain glaciers and snowpack will accelerate.
Most of Canada will continue to become warmer with increased violent storms and rain in the east. Areas of the southern Prairies will become more arid. The Arctic will experience melting permafrost and melting ice sheets.

Ocean levels will continue to rise for centuries to come to the point where countries such as the Netherlands, Bangladesh and other low-lying regions will likely be inundated.

Crop production will gradually increase for northerly climates, while it will decrease in tropical and semi-arid areas, where most of the Earth's 6 billion people live.

What are not clearly understood are the impacts of feedbacks that will drive global warming faster and farther. Permafrost melting, for instance, will release vast amounts of methane, a powerful GHG, while the warming of the ocean will reduce its capacity to absorb GHGs.

This is the general picture that scientists have laid out with a high degree of certainty. The question now is: Are we ready to reduce emissions fast enough to limit the damage?

"The reason for concern for the 2C warming is it's a round number," Weaver said.

"It's close to a couple of key thresholds. No. 1 is it's close to the threshold beyond which we are committed to the demise of the Greenland ice sheet, which commits (us to a) sea level rise of seven metres. So that's in the cards. It's also at the same level that you commit us to losing the west Antarctic ice sheet. That's another five metres. So you are committing the world to 12 metres of sea level rise. It won't happen overnight. It takes centuries.

"With 12 metres, you've got 130 million people in the Netherlands and China, including the cities of Shanghai and Jiangyin, under water. What do you say? You say, 'Well, in Canada we have a slightly longer growing season so you can just quietly go and die there in China. And you know it's not our problem.' So to me the big issue is the political instability that is clearly going to arise."

The IPCC reports that individuals can have a significant impact on mitigating the impacts of climate change. Most of us can considerably reduce our use of fossil fuels by properly insulating our homes and changing our lifestyles - simple stuff such as walking, bicycling and taking public transit. On a broader scale, promoting alternative energy sources like wind, tidal, geothermal, solar and biofuels can greatly reduce GHG emissions.

"Awareness of the issue is quite broad," Stone said. "There is a question about the extent to which people understand it, that they understand that they are part of the problem and they can be part of the solution. I think that we still have a lot of work to do there. If we don't get a globally rigid regime in place within the next 10 years, then I think things could be bad."


06-07-2009, 12:13 PM
Billion-tonne iceberg could be Arctic shipping hazard
By Randy Boswell, Canwest News ServiceJune 6, 2009

http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.vancouversun.com/technology/billion+tonne+iceberg+could+arctic+shipping+hazard/1670898/1670899.bin (http://javascript<b></b>:setClass('storypage','story_photo_content');)

A billion-tonne iceberg that calved from a northern Greenland glacier last summer has drifted 2,000 kilometres into Canadian waters and is now stalking the southern coast of Baffin Island. Petermann Glacier had major calving events in both 2001 and 2008.

Photograph by: Martin Fortier , University of Laval

A billion-tonne iceberg that calved from a northern Greenland glacier last summer has drifted 2,000 kilometres into Canadian waters and is now stalking the southern coast of Baffin Island — a potential shipping hazard that federal scientists are closely tracking by satellite and with a beacon placed directly on the frozen mass.

But experts monitoring the Petermann Ice Island — named for the glacier it split from last July — say they’re bracing for the birth of a monster berg five times bigger that could break away from the same High Arctic source this summer.

If that colossal chunk of ice and snow remains whole after it heaves clear of Greenland’s ancient Petermann Glacier, it would form a floating monolith about the size of B.C.’s Saltspring Island — greater in area than New Brunswick’s Grand Manan or Ontario’s Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands.

Officials with the Canadian Ice Service, the branch of Environment Canada that monitors ice conditions on the country’s navigable waterways, is sharing data with a team of U.S. scientists to ensure an early warning when the glacier calves again.

It currently has a massive crack about one kilometre wide and 12 kilometres long — a split that could produce a 160-square-kilometre ice island likely to track the same southward route down Davis Strait the earlier one did.

“In terms of another chunk of ice about to break off,” a Canadian Ice Service spokeswoman told Canwest News Service, the service is “sharing RADARSAT-2 images” with U.S. researchers studying the Greenland glacier, who will in return provide Environment Canada with “advance warning of any impending breakup.”

Ohio State University scientist Jason Box and other experts with the Byrd Polar Research Center first alerted the world last summer to the loss of a 29-square-kilometre ice island from Petermann.

Petermann is a 1,300-sq.-km projection of ice down a Greenland fiord that constitutes the largest floating glacier in the northern hemisphere.

The breakaway iceberg was the billion-tonne colossus that drifted through Nares Strait between Ellesmere Island and Greenland en route to its current position along Baffin Island’s southeastern shore, said ice service spokeswoman Sujata Raisinghani.

Since that ice island calved 11 months ago, it has shrunk to 12 square kilometres and lost about half of its mass, she said.

“In keeping with our mandate to monitor ice conditions to protect the safety of mariners and their ships in Canada’s navigable waters, we have been tracking the ice island’s movement,” she said. “During the past month, the ice island has been in a stationary position just north of the entrance to Frobisher Bay.”

The ice service says Petermann Ice Island poses “no immediate danger to marine shipping,” but added it will continue to be tracked in case it threatens to interfere with summer traffic in Canada’s increasingly busy Arctic waters.

At the time of the 29-sq.-km calving event, Box warned of the growing crack further up the glacier and the “imminent” possibility of a larger collapse.

“This crack is moving, and moving closer and closer to the front,” he said at the time. “It’s just a matter of time till a much larger piece is going to break off.”

The collapse of several Arctic ice shelves in recent years have kept Canadian officials on alert for possible disruptions to shipping activity or danger to offshore oil platforms.

In 2005, a 66-sq.-km chunk of the Ayles Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island’s northern coast broke free and began drifting south. Federal scientists kept a close watch on the resulting Ayles Ice Island as it tracked a worrisome route toward the Beaufort Sea, a hot spot for oil exploration.

But in August 2007, the five-by-15-km slab turned down a dead-end channel between Meighen and Axel Heiberg islands, where scientists expected it to slowly break up — probably over decades — and become an anonymous part of the Arctic pack ice.

Last year, the Ellesmere Island ice shelves experienced unprecedented losses of about 200 square kilometres, sending more huge chunks drifting through Canada’s Arctic waters.

One of the country’s five remaining Arctic ice shelves — the 4,500-year-old, 50-sq.-km Markham Ice Shelf — broke completely away from Ellesmere and drifted into the Arctic Ocean, the most dramatic sign yet of how rising temperatures and retreating sea ice are creating what one top scientist called “irreversible’’ changes to the country’s polar frontier.

Referring to last summer’s loss of about 25 per cent of the total area in Canada covered by ice shelves, Trent University ice expert Derek Mueller said: “These substantial calving events underscore the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic. These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present.’’

In an interview last year with Canwest News Service, Canadian Ice Service director Douglas Bancroft warned that although the opening of Arctic sea ice in recent years holds the promise of more shipping in the Northwest Passage and other polar routes, the breakup of multi-year ice caused by record-setting warm temperatures could also pose an increased hazard for navigation.


06-13-2009, 03:41 PM
The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than expected according to a new study led by a University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher and published in the journal Hydrological Processes.

Study results indicate that the ice sheet may be responsible for nearly 25 percent of global sea rise in the past 13 years. The study also shows that seas now are rising by more than 3 millimeters a year—more than 50 percent faster than the average for the 20th century.

UAF researcher Sebastian H. Mernild and colleagues from the United States, United Kingdom and Denmark discovered that from 1995 to 2007, overall precipitation on the ice sheet decreased while surface ablation—the combination of evaporation, melting and calving of the ice sheet—increased. According to Mernild's new data, since 1995 the ice sheet lost an average of 265 cubic kilometers per year, which has contributed to about 0.7 millimeters per year in global sea level rise. These figures do not include thermal expansion—the expansion of the ice volume in response to heat—so the contribution could be up to twice that.

The Greenland ice sheet has been of considerable interest to researchers over the last few years as one of the major indicators of climate change. In late 2000/early 2001 and in 2007, major glacier calving events sent up to 44 square miles of ice into the sea at a time. Researchers are studying these major events as well as the less dramatic ongoing melting of the ice sheet through runoff and surface processes.

Ice melt from a warming Arctic has two major effects on the ocean. First, increased water contributes to global sea-level rise, which in turn affects coastlines across the globe. Second, fresh water from melting ice changes the salinity of the world's oceans, which can affect ocean ecosystems and deep water mixing.

"Increasing sea level rise will be a problem in the future for people living in coastal regions around the globe," said Mernild. "Even a small sea level rise can be a problem for these communities. It is our hope that this research can provide people with accurate information needed to plan for protecting people and communities."

Source: University of Alaska Fairbanks

06-15-2009, 10:56 PM
Microbes found miles beneath Greenland ice given new life

Discovery raises hopes of lifeforms enduring harsh conditions on other planets
By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Monday, 15 June 2009

http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00187/microbes_187445t.jpg (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/microbes-found-miles-beneath-greenland-ice-given-new-life-1705311.html?action=Popup)
An image of the chryseobacterium greenlandensis bacteria which has been buried under the Greenland ice sheet for for nearly 12,000 years

http://www.independent.co.uk/independent.co.uk/images/i_photos.gif enlarge (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/microbes-found-miles-beneath-greenland-ice-given-new-life-1705311.html?action=Popup&gallery=no)

Tiny microbes that have been buried below nearly two miles of ice for at least 120,000 years have been revived in the laboratory, in a study that raises the prospect that similar life forms could have survived on other planets.

Scientists have found at least two species of miniature bacteria, many times smaller than normal microbes, in an ice core bored deep beneath the surface of a Greenland glacier where they have been trapped for tens of thousands of years.

The researchers managed to isolate and grow the bacteria in the laboratory, where they have established thriving colonies of small, purple-brown microbes that are so small that they can pass straight through conventional medical filters used for sterilisation.

The microbes' ability to survive the harsh environment of a Greenland glacier for such a long period of time suggests that extraterrestrial life forms – if they exist – could survive in equally extreme environments on Mars or Europa, the ice-covered moon of Jupiter where extraterrestrial life is thought to be possible.

"These extremely cold environments are the best analogues of possible extraterrestrial habitats," said Jennifer Loveland-Curtze of Pennsylvania State University, who led the study.

"The exceptionally low temperatures can preserve cells and nucleic acids [DNA] for even millions of years," said Professor Loveland-Curtze, whose study is published today in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

The ultra-small size of both bacteria – which are up to 50 times smaller than the E. coli bacteria found in the human gut – may have helped them to survive in the small liquid veins between ice crystals, she said.
"They were trapped in the ice for at least 120,000 years and possibly much longer. We're not sure how much metabolism was going on during this time but there was probably some activity in the cells to preserve their DNA," Professor Loveland-Curtze said.

"They may have divided perhaps once every 100 years or 1,000 years. We don't know. A lot of organisms are out there in environments that we consider harsh and extreme."

The study has so far revived two kinds of bacteria, which have been formally named as Herminiimonas glaciei and Chryseobacterium greenlandensis. H. glaciei is about half the size of C. greenlandensis and can pass through the ultra-fine filters used to sterilise chemical solutions – although it is not harmful, Professor Loveland-Curtze said. Both bacteria were recovered from ice cores drilled from a depth of 3,042 metres (10,000 ft) below the surface of the glacier. The ice at this depth is at least 120,000 years old but it could be up to several million years old, Professor Loveland-Curtze said.

"Studying these bacteria can provide insights into how cells can survive, and even grow, under extremely harsh conditions, such as temperatures down to minus 56C, little oxygen, low nutrients, high pressure and limited space," she said.

Similar bacteria have now been recovered from a range of extreme environments on Earth, including ice cores drilled deep beneath the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet. In 2000, scientists claimed to have revived bacterial spores that had been trapped in salt crystals 2,000ft below ground.


06-15-2009, 10:58 PM
Waking the Dead

You gotta love science and scientists. I read a report today that researchers from Penn State "coaxed back to life" 120,000 year old microbes that had been buried two miles beneath a Greenland glacier. Other scientists have revived 32,000 year old bacteria, and in 2001, scientists exhumed corpses in the Alaskan permafrost to find frozen, but still living, examples of the variation of H1N1 virus that killed 50 to 100 million people in 1918.

Obviously, a microbe isn't exactly a fully functional T-Rex ala Jurassic Park, stomping around the streets of Los Angeles eating hapless pedestrians and chihuahuas. In other words, it doesn't exactly capture the imagination or rate high on the sexiness scale of how science relates to the average person. On the other hand, the Spanish Flu, as the 1918 pandemic was called, wiped out more than half a million Americans -- more than died in the Civil War, more than in World War 2 -- and perhaps 5% of the world population. So digging up a human corpsicle to research the variation of the flu that is presently freaking out every epidemiologist, national and world health organizations, and me every time I board an airplane seems sensible. (Speaking of freaking out, United has stopped distributing blankets b/c of fear of spreading H1N1 from plane to plane, which just confirmed my lifelong suspicion that those blankets saw a bath with about the same frequency as a an English courtier in the 16th century.)

But is it just me, or is the idea of micron-sized paddles shocking bacteria back to life after a thousand centuries a little scary? Perhaps I'm still scarred by the memories of reading "The Andromeda Strain" as a kid, but is it that far fetched to worry about the potential consequences of an "extinct" bacteria on immune systems that may have caused a homo erectus to sneeze?

I am sure that all possible precautions on containment are taken by these researcher. The odds of these ancient microbes a) escaping and b) being deadly are, compared to contagion from existing viral threats which only have to deal with porous border crossings, recirculated air in confined quarters, and overall hygiene levels worldwide, infinitesimal.

Still, I can't help but be reminded by what westerners did to the indigenous populations of the New World, where diseases brought by explorers and colonists for which the natives had no resistance wiped out 90% of their population within 150 years. Is there, somewhere, sleeping deep within the ice of Antarctica, a single cell that is the portent of our own doom?


06-16-2009, 03:22 PM
There's also a thread in the science center on this subject:

06-17-2009, 07:12 PM
2,500-year-old bird's nest found

Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45933000/jpg/_45933830_thulebooth.jpg Good for generation after generation

A 2,500-year-old bird's nest has been discovered on a cliff in Greenland. The nesting site is still continually used by gyrfalcons, the world's largest species of falcon, and is the oldest raptor nest ever recorded.
Three other nests, each over 1,000 years old, have also been found, one of which contains feathers from a bird that lived more than 600 years ago.
However, ornithologists fear climate change may soon drive the birds from these ancient nesting sites.
Gyrfalcons live circumpolar to the Arctic. The birds range in colour from being almost exclusively white in Greenland to usually black in Labrador in Canada.
Like many falcons, they do not build nests out of sticks and twigs, but typically lay eggs in bowl-shaped depressions they scrape into existing ledges or old nests made by other birds such as ravens.
But while stick nests are often frequently damaged, preventing their repeated use, gyrfalcons will often revisit some ledges and potholes from year to year.
To find out just how long the birds return to the same site, ornithologist Kurt Burnham of the University of Oxford, UK and colleagues decided to carbon date the guano and other debris that birds leave at various nest sites around Greenland.
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45933000/jpg/_45933854_billoncliffagain.jpg An ancient nest, this one dated at a mere 1000 years old.

The cold dry climate of Greenland slows the decay of the falcons' droppings and various nest sites had built up levels of guano almost 2m deep.
But Burnham was still surprised to find out just how old these nests are.
Carbon dating revealed that one nest in Kangerlussuaq in central-west Greenland is between 2,360 and 2,740 years old, the researchers report in Ibis.
Three other nests in the area are older than 1,000 years, with the youngest nest site first being occupied 520 to 650 years ago.
These ancient nests are still being regularly used by gyrfalcons.
"While I know many falcon species re-use nest sites year after year, I never imagined we would be talking about nests that have been used on and off for over 2,000 years," says Burnham.
Within the nests, Burnham's team also found intriguing clues as to the past inhabitants.
In the 13 nests sampled, they found three feathers belonging to previous tenants. The youngest came from a bird residing in the nest 60 years ago, while the oldest came from a falcon that used the nest some 670 years ago.
The ancient guano samples also gave an indication of what the birds ate in times long past.
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45933000/jpg/_45933856_hm0i5972.jpg The world's largest falcon.

Those gyrfalcons living in central-west Greenland, which is farther from the ice sheet and nearer the ocean, fed from a diet much richer in marine animals, such as little auks and black guillemots.
Falcons living further north closer to the ice fed on terrestrial prey such as rock ptarmigan and arctic hare.
"These findings put new emphasis on just how important nest site characteristics can be for raptor species, particularly large raptors," Burnham says.
"Something, be it nest ledge depth, or the amount of cliff overhang above the nest, is so attractive at these locations that gyrfalcons are re-using them for thousands of years."
Yet the fact that gyrfalcons remain faithful to certain nest sites for hundreds of generations suggest that they may be especially vulnerable to climate change, says Burnham.
"As a result of a warming and ameliorating climate other bird species, such as peregrine falcons, are moving further north."
"As peregrine populations continue to increase in density they will likely use more and more of these traditional gyrfalcon nests, forcing gyrfalcons to find alternate locations to nest in which may not offer the same amount of protection from the harsh Arctic environment in Greenland."
Similar studies have been used to show when whole colonies of birds first took up residence at certain sites.
By carbon dating solidified stomach contents, peat moss deposits and bone and feather samples from various moulting sites, researchers have in the past shown that colonies of snow petrel have returned to the same sites for 34,000 years and adelie penguins for 44,000 years.


06-21-2009, 09:04 AM
Magnitude 5.2
Date-Time Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 12:27:07 UTC
Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 02:27:07 PM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 76.407°N, 7.031°E
Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
Distances 780 km (485 miles) SE of Nord, Greenland

06-21-2009, 09:26 AM
Earthquakes in Iceland (http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2009/05/30/earthquakes-in-iceland/)

By Alex (http://www.icenews.is/index.php/author/alex/) on May 30, 2009

Iceland’s south western Reykjanes Peninsula has been experiencing a huge amount of seismic activity in recent days.

438 earthquakes have occurred in the region in the last 48 hours alone. The biggest quakes happened at 21.33 last night and at 13.35 today. Last night’s quake measured 4.9 on the Richter scale, and today’s 4.5.

Both were centred near the town of Grindavik and were clearly felt by residents in the capital, Reykjavik. The famous Blue Lagoon spa is also very near the epicentre and guests felt the full force of today’s quake, but were not asked to leave the complex. The Blue Lagoon was already closed by the time last night’s tremor took place.
No damage or injury has been reported anywhere and the quakes were much smaller than last June’s 6.3 tremor, which also killed no one.

[URL]http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2009/05/30/earthquakes-in-iceland/ (http://www.firmaconsulting.is/firma/en/?Icenews2)

06-25-2009, 07:34 PM
The 800-pound Gorilla

June 25, 2009

For some years now, glaciologists have been tip-toeing around the Greenland ice sheet with the earth-science equivalents of stethoscopes, like veterinary doctors trying to very carefully take the pulse of a fitfully sleeping gorilla. There are good reasons for this.

http://blogs.discovery.com/.a/6a00d8341bf67c53ef011571597de8970b-800wi (http://dsc.discovery.com/guides/discovery-earth-live/earth-extras/greenland-ice-melt/greenland-audio.html) As NASA's chief ice scientist Waleed Abdalati explains in an audio you can hear by clicking on this image, Greenland contains enough fresh water to raise global sea level 23 feet if all of the ice were to melt. Of course, all of its doesn't have to melt to cause very serious problems around the world. Rapid influx of meltwater could change climate by altering patterns of ocean circulation.

In the face of rising temperatures in the atmosphere and the oceans at high latitudes, there are signs that the Greenland gorilla is waking. Especially since the beginning of the new century, the ice sheet has been giving up mass to the surrounding seas faster than it has been gaining mass as falling snow.

The authoritative 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saw Greenland as only a modest contributor to future sea level rise, although it characterized the question as one of the bigger unknowns in the field. Estimates have increased as the melt rate has been accelerating, and ice specialists have been working overtime to figure out just how this great block of frozen fresh water, two miles deep in places, responds to a warming world.
http://blogs.discovery.com/.a/6a00d8341bf67c53ef011570646807970c-800wi Most recently, University of Buffalo researcher Jason Briner and colleagues report in the journal Nature Geoscience results of a study of a Canadian Arctic glacier just across Baffin Bay that "rapidly deglaciated about 9,500 years ago." Like those draining Greenland, the Sam Ford Fjord was a tidewater glacier, its terminus floating on warming ocean water. Rapid retreat occurred when water under the floating ice was a kilometer or more deep -- conditions which mirror those under the big Jakobshavn Glacier flowing out of Greenland across Baffin Bay. Click on the image at right and watch a fascinating video as NASA's Abdalati describes what has been happening at the Jakobshavn Glacier.

Briner said his findings "suggest that contemporary tidewater glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica that are retreating into deep waters may begin to experience even faster rates of retreat than are currently being observed."

For all the work underway, too much is still not known. There is modeling evidence that the flows from these tidewater glaciers slow when their advancing edges reach back onto land, but there is a real gap in understanding of how the Greenland ice sheet has responded to changes over the last several centuries -- between the meticulous pulse-taking of current observations and the blurry pictures that come from geological evidence if the distant past. Bridging that gap is the focus of researcher Andrew Long, writing in the current issue (http://www.gsajournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1130%2FGSATG40A.1)of GSA Today, the journal of the Geological Society of America. "Only then will we reduce the considerable uncertainty that presently exists regarding the contribution of the Greenland Ice Sheet to past and future sea-level change," he concludes.

http://blogs.discovery.com/earth/2009/06/the-800-pound-gorilla.html (http://blogs.discovery.com/earth/2009/06/the-800-pound-gorilla.html)

07-07-2009, 08:46 PM
This can't be good for all that ice :no:


Magnitude 6.1
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 at 19:11:45 UTC
Tuesday, July 07, 2009 at 02:11:45 PM at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
Location75.325°N, 72.312°WDepth10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program

07-19-2009, 05:26 PM
Manhattan-Sized Ice Chunk to Break Off Arctic Glacier (Update1)

By Jeremy van Loon and Alex Morales

July 16 (Bloomberg) -- A Manhattan-sized chunk (http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/nycity.htm) of ice may break away from a glacier in northwestern Greenland and fall into the sea within about two months, Greenpeace said today.

A 5 billion-metric-ton piece of the Petermann Glacier may detach and float south along the coast of Canada’s Ellesmere Island (http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/lgcolor/glcolor.htm) in the Arctic, said Greenpeace’s Kieran Mulvaney (http://search.bloomberg.com/search?q=Kieran+Mulvaney&site=wnews&client=wnews&proxystylesheet=wnews&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&filter=p&getfields=wnnis&sort=date:D:S:d1), who directs the expedition of scientists monitoring the situation. The chunk is part of the Northern Hemisphere’s largest “ice tongue,” the part of a glacier extending over the sea.

“There appears to be a lot of activity, whirlpools and rivers forming on the glacier,” Mulvaney said today in an interview. “It’s clearly an environment in a state of change.”

Glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting faster than predicted, accelerating their march to the sea and adding to the rising ocean levels that threaten coastal communities worldwide, according to many scientific studies.

The ice expected to break off Petermann this summer will dwarf the one-billion ton piece that fell away from the ice sheet last year, Greenpeace said in an e-mailed statement.

The forecast came from a team of independent scientists on a Greenpeace ship about 80 miles from the site, the environmental-advocacy group said. The boat was moored to the ice until a few days ago, Mulvaney said.

Sea-Level Threat
The floating ice tongue covers about 500 square miles, and researchers at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University are monitoring a rift in the ice, according to NASA (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=9085). Over a two-week period last summer, the glacier lost 11 square miles, NASA said.

Melting glaciers may contribute to sea-level rise of 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) this century, according to the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (http://ipcc.ch/).

The planet’s oceans have risen 0.2 meters over the past century, and global warming is expected to further add to that gain, the two UN organizations have said. As the earth heats up, water in oceans will increase in volume, a process known as thermal expansion that also adds to climbing sea levels.


07-26-2009, 11:30 AM
Here Comes the Ice

July 21, 2009

Greenpeace is recording the breakup of the Petermann glacier, one of Greenland’s largest.© www.greenpeace.org (http://www.greenpeace.org)

The largest floating glacier in the northern hemisphere is cracking again. Scientists are expecting five billion tons of ice to break away from the Petermann glacier this summer—a piece about the size of Manhattan. In fact, the ice chunk contains enough water to supply New York City for more than two years.

A team of independent scientists spent the past two weeks studying the 50-mile long, 10-mile wide “ice tounge” on the northwest coast of Greenland. Aboard the Artic Sunrise, a Greenpeace ship, they took photographs and footage of the massive glacier.

The Petermann glacier lost a one-billion-ton chunk of ice from the same shelf last year, and about a 1.9 square-mile piece on July 13. Scientists are using new technology to study the melting glacier that allows them to estimate when future cracks and breaks will occur.

With the aid of time-lapse cameras, GPS units and oceanographic equipment, the researchers are documenting the accelerating rate of glacier melting. They say the ice is melting at a faster rate than originally predicted.

“The loss of ice from glaciers like Petermann has been likened to pulling a cork from a bottle,” Dr. Alun Hubbard, a glaciologist, said. “Their removal hastens the flow of Greenland’s ice sheet to the ocean, contributing to sea level rise.”

The Petermann glacier is part of a network of glaciers that hold back the Greenland ice sheet. If that ice sheet collapses, scientists say, water would be released at an incredibly high rate. Melanie Duchin, the Greenpeace expedition leader, says, “Greenland’s glaciers are melting much faster than scientists have been predicting indicating the urgent need for real and meaningful action at the upcoming climate meeting in Copenhagen in December.”


09-26-2009, 06:05 PM
Greenland’s Frigid Waters Being Warmed By Subtropical Streams

Posted on: Wednesday, 23 September 2009, 13:05 CDT

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution spent last month trying to determine if warmer oceanic waters were seeping into the regions surrounding Greenland.

Ruth Curry and a team of researchers based their study on the observation that glaciers have started to flow faster than normal throughout the past decade.

This observation led them to believe that warmer, subtropical waters were to blame.

In 2005, scientists noticed that Greenland’s Helheim Glacier had nearly doubled in speed as it moved through a river at a pace of 100 feet per day.

The rapid movement caught researchers by surprise and sparked concerns that it could be a sign of a massive melting of the Greenland’s ice sheet to come.

A melting of the massive two-mile-thick ice sheet could result in a global sea level increase of 20 feet.

"If you were to dip your hand in it, it doesn't seem that warm," Curry, Senior Research Specialist of Physical Oceanography at WHOI, told the Associated Press.

"But it is. It's warm enough to melt ice. And that's the important thing here."

Curry’s team took observations in the icebergs of the Sermilik fjord last month to determine if waters from warmer latitudes were flowing into the region.
They used tools to discover that subtropical water with a temperature of about 39 Fahrenheit was reaching the distant region.

"The measurements alone are not enough to conclude that the glacial melt is to a high degree driven by subtropical water. But I think the story is (starting) to come together," research leader Fiamma Straneo told the AP.

“We've had a confirmation that the waters are really coming up to the glacier. This is the first time that we've seen it in these southeast glacial fjords.”

The warmer waters are carried by currents known as the Gulf Stream. But researchers said it is typical for the warmer waters and frigid waters to battle it out naturally. However, they have not previously resulted in such a constant rise in oceanic temperature.

"We've actually measured the waters at their source and have seen their temperature going up, up, up in a way that can't be explained without taking into account human influences," Curry said.

Researchers are trying to gather as much information as possible, as soon as possible, in order to meet a December deadline when the world’s leaders are expected to meet in Copenhagen to discuss a new agreement to replace Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report estimated that sea levels could rise by 7 to 24 inches, but the report fails to take the Greenland melt into account.

Some researchers estimate that the addition of melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland could double to estimates projected by the IPCC.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1758490/greenlands_frigid_waters_being_warmed_by_subtropic al_streams/

09-29-2009, 11:29 PM
Two metre sea level rise unstoppable-experts

Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:39pm EDT
* Several metres sea level rise almost unstoppable
* Coast protection would save much land, homes, assets
* Cost up to $215 billion a year by 2100

By Gerard Wynn

OXFORD, England, Sept 29 (Reuters) - A rise of at least two metres in the world's sea levels is now almost unstoppable, experts told a climate conference at Oxford University on Tuesday.

"The crux of the sea level issue is that it starts very slowly but once it gets going it is practically unstoppable," said Stefan Rahmstorf, a scientist at Germany's Potsdam Institute and a widely recognised sea level expert.

"There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions."

Rahmstorf said the best outcome was that after temperatures stabilised, sea levels would only rise at a steady rate "for centuries to come", and not accelerate.

Most scientists expect at least 2 degrees Celsius warming as a result of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and probably more. The world warmed 0.7-0.8 degrees last century.

Rahmstorf estimated that if the world limited warming to 1.5 degrees then it would still see two metres sea level rise over centuries, which would see some island nations disappear.

His best guess was a one metre rise this century, assuming three degrees warming, and up to five metres over the next 300 years.

"There is nothing we can do to stop this unless we manage to cool the planet. That would require extracting the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There is no way of doing this on the sufficient scale known today," he said.

Scientists say that ice melt acquires a momentum of its own - for example warming the air as less ice reflects less heat, warming the local area.

"Once the ice is on the move, it's like a tipping point which reinforces itself," said Wageningen University's Pier Vellinga, citing various research.

"Even if you reduce all the emissions in the world once this has started it may be unstoppable. I conclude that beyond 2 degrees global average temperature rise the probability of the Greenland ice sheet disintegrating is 50 percent or more."

"(That) will result in about 7 metres sea level rise, and the time frame is about 300-1,000 years."


Delegates from about 190 nations are meeting in Bangkok to try to speed up U.N.-led negotiations to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a tougher climate pact. [ID:nLS243569]

Speakers in Oxford used history to back up their arguments on rising seas. Three million years ago the planet was 2-3 degrees warmer and the sea 25-35 metres higher, and 122,000 years ago 2 degrees warmer and 10 metres higher, they said.

"What we now see in Greenland, Antarctica could be a temporary phenomena but it could also be the start of what we saw 122,000 years ago," said Vellinga.

Sea levels have risen about 20 centimetres in the past century and that effect was accelerating, speakers said.

That rise was adding to storms such as that in the Philippines [ID:nSP127545], although that single event couldn't be attributed to climate change, said Rahmstorf.

"Of course the flooding from a given storm event would be less severe if we hadn't added those extra centimetres."

About 40 million people worldwide live in flood plains, said Southampton University's Robert Nicholls. That is 0.6 percent of the global population and 5 percent of global wealth, because of valuable assets such as airports and power plants.

He was confident that coastal protection could hugely reduce lost land and assets. The cost of that speakers put at anywhere from 50 billion euros ($72.85 billion) a year by 2020 to up to $215 billion a year by 2100


10-27-2009, 11:47 AM
Thanks for the information, it's very helpful for me

11-01-2009, 03:05 PM
The Lungs of the Earth

November 1st, 2009 6:48 AM

by Andrew Glikson
Figure 1. A plot of global mean temperature (increase above pre-industrial
time in degrees C) vs atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration
(in CO2-eqivalent, a value which includes the effect of methane). The
assumed climate is 3+/-1.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2-e. The field I, II,
III, etc. correspond to the IPCC’s various emission scenarios. IPCC Climate
Change 2007: Synthesis Report, figure 5.1 ipcc.ch/graphics/syr/fig5-1.jpg (http://www.ipcc.ch/graphics/syr/fig5-1.jpg)

The recent warning by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact: “We are simply talking about the very life support system of this planet” [1] is consistent with the lessons arising from the history of the Earth’s atmosphere/ocean system. A rise of CO2-e (CO2-equivalent, including the effect of methane) above 500 ppm and of mean global temperature toward and above 4 degrees C, projected by the IPCC [2], Copenhagen [3] and Oxford [4] scientific reports, as well as reports by the world’s leading climate science bodies (NASA/GISS, Hadley-Met, Potsdam Climate Impact Institute, NSIDC, CSIRO, BOM), would transcend the conditions which allowed the development of agriculture in the early Neolithic, tracking toward climates which dominated the mid-Pliocene (3 Ma) (1 Ma = 1 million years) and further toward greenhouse Earth conditions analogous to those of the Cretaceous (145–65 Ma) and early Cenozoic (pre-34 Ma). Lost all too often in the climate debate is an appreciation of the delicate balance between the physical and chemical state of the atmosphere-ocean-land system and the evolving biosphere, which controls the emergence, survival and demise of species, including humans.

By contrast to Venus, with its thick blanket of CO2 and sulphur dioxide greenhouse atmosphere, exerting extreme pressure (90 bars) at the surface, or Mars with its thin (0.01 bar) CO2 atmosphere, the presence in the Earth’s atmosphere of trace concentrations of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitric oxides, ozone) modulates surface temperatures in the range of -89 and +57.7 degrees Celsius, allowing the presence of liquid water and thereby of life.

Forming a thin breathable veneer only slightly more than one thousand the diameter of Earth, and evolving both gradually as well as through major perturbations with time, the Earth’s atmosphere acts as the lungs of the biosphere, allowing an exchange of carbon gases and oxygen with plants and animals, which in turn affect the atmosphere, for example through release of methane and photosynthetic oxygen.

An excess of carbon dioxide in the lungs triggers a need to breath. When the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere rises above a critical threshold, the climate moves to a different state. Any significant increase in the level of carbon gases triggers powerful feedbacks. These include ice melt/warm water interaction, decline of ice reflection (albedo) effect and increase in infrared absorption by exposed water. Further release of CO2 from the oceans and from drying and burning vegetation shifts global climate zones toward the poles, warms the oceans and induces ocean acidification.

The essential physics of the infrared absorption/emission resonance of greenhouse molecules has long been established by observations in nature and laboratory studies, as portrayed in the relations between atmospheric CO2 and mean global temperature projections in Figure 1.

The living biosphere, allowing survival of large mammals and of humans on the continents, has developed when CO2 levels fell below about 500 ppm some 34 million years ago (late Eocene). At that stage, and again about 15 million years ago (mid-Miocene), development of the Antarctic ice sheet led to a fundamental change in the global climate regime.

About 2.8 million years ago (mid-Pliocene) the Greenland ice sheet and the Arctic Sea ice began to form, with further decline in global temperatures expressed through glacial-interglacial cycles regulated by orbital forcing (Milankovic cycles), with atmospheric CO2 levels oscillating between 180 and 280 ppm CO2 [5]. These conditions allowed the emergence of humans in Africa and later all over the world [6].

Humans already existed 3 million years-ago, however these were small clans which, in response to changing climates migrated to more hospitable parts of Africa and subsequently Asia [6]. About 124 thousand years ago, during the Emian interglacial, temperatures rose by about 1 degree C and sea levels by 6-8 meters.

The development of agriculture and thereby human civilization had to wait until climate stabilized about 8000 years ago, when large scale irrigation along the great river valleys (the Nile, Euphrates, Hindus and Yellow River) became possible.

Since the industrial revolution humans dug, pumped and burnt more than 320 billion tons of carbon which accumulated as the result of biological activity during 400 million years. 320 billion tons of carbon is more than 50% the carbon concentration of the original atmosphere (540 billion tons). As a consequence the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by about 40%, from 280 to 388 ppm.

The world is now witnessing a dangerous shift in the state of the atmosphere-ocean system, an extremely rapid change from the interglacial condition of the Holocene, which began about 11,700 years-ago, to conditions analogous to those of the mid-Pliocene when mean global temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees C higher, and sea levels about 25+/-12 meters higher, than the early 20th century.

In terms of the combined effects of CO2, methane and nitric oxide, the rise of greenhouse gases has reached about 460 ppm CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) (Figure 1), only slightly below the 500 ppm level which correlates with the maximum stability of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The current rate at which CO2 is rising, 2 ppm per year, is unprecedented in the recent history of the Earth, with the exception of the onset of greenhouse atmospheric conditions following major volcanic episodes and asteroid and comet impacts, which led to the large mass extinctions in the history of the Earth (end-Ordovician, end-Devonian, end-Permian and Permian-Triassic boundary, end-Triassic, end-Jurassic, end-Cretaceous) (Figure 2).

Further rise of CO2-e above 500 ppm and mean global temperatures above 4 degrees C can only lead toward greenhouse Earth conditions such as existed during the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic (Figure 2).

At 4 degrees C advanced to total melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets leads to sea levels tens of meters higher than at present.

Since the 18th century mean global temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees C. Another 0.5 degrees C is masked by industrial-emitted aerosols (SO2), and further rise ensues from current melting of the ice sheets and sea ice, with loss of reflection (albedo) of ice and gain in infrared absorption by open water, leading to feedback effects.

The polar regions, actinv as the “thermostats” of the Earth, are the source of the cold air current vortices and the cold ocean currents, such as the Humboldt and California current, which keep the Earth’s overall temperature balance, much as the blood stream regulates the body’s temperature and the supply of oxygen.

Unfortunately climate change is not an abstract notion, with consequences manifest around the globe in terms of (1) Polar ice melt; (2) Sea level rise; (3) Migration of climate zones toward the poles; (4) Desertification of temperate climate zones; (5) Intensification of hurricanes and floods, related to increase in the level of atmospheric energy; (6) acidification of the oceans; (7) Destruction of coral reefs [2-4].

Which is why the European Union and in recent international conferences defined a rise by 2.0 degrees C as the maximum permissible level. A dominant scientific view has emerged that atmospheric CO2 levels, currently at 388 ppm, need to be urgently reduced to below 350 ppm [5]. This is because, a rise of CO2 concentration above 350 ppm triggers feedback effects, which include:

1. Carbon cycle feedback due to warming, which dries and burns vegetation, with loss of CO2. With further warming, the onset of methane release from polar bogs and sediments is of major concern.

2. Ice/melt water interaction feedbacks: melt water melts more ice, ice loss results in albedo loss, exposed water absorb infrared heat. Because CO2 is cumulative, with atmospheric residence time on the scale of centuries to millennia, it may not be possible to stabilize or control the climate through small incremental reduction in emission and avoid irreversible tipping points [7]. Humans can not argue with the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. Time is running out. What is needed are global emergency measures, including:

1. Urgent deep cuts in carbon emissions by as much as 80%.

2. Parallel Fast track transformation to non-polluting energy utilities – solar, solar-thermal, wind, tide, geothermal, hot rocks.

3. Global reforestation and re-vegetation campaigns, including application of biochar.
Business as usual, with its focus on the annual balance sheet, can hardly continue under conditions of environmental collapse. Governments, focused on the next elections, need to focus on the survival of the next generation

Good planets are hard to come by.

Figure 2. Variations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and oxygen concentrations correlated with ice ages
(blue histograms, extending according to geographic latitude). Note the sharp decline in atmospheric CO2
during ice ages. After Royer et al. 2004 [8] and Berner et al. 2007 [9].


11-12-2009, 09:11 PM
Greenland ice loss accelerating: study

Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:04pm EST
By Alister Doyle (http://blogs.reuters.com/search/journalist.php?edition=us&n=alister.doyle&), Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Greenland's ice losses are accelerating and nudging up sea levels, according to a study showing that icebergs breaking away and meltwater runoff are equally to blame for the shrinking ice sheet.

The report, using computer models to confirm satellite readings, indicated that ice losses quickened in 2006-08 to the equivalent of 0.75 mm (0.03 inch) of world sea level rise per year from an average 0.46 mm a year for 2000-08.

"Mass loss has accelerated," said Michiel van den Broeke, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who led the study, in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"The years 2006-08, with their warm summers, have seen a huge melting," he told Reuters of the study with colleagues in the United States, the Netherlands and Britain.

"The underlying causes suggest this trend is likely to continue in the near future," Jonathan Bamber, a co-author at the University of Bristol, said in a statement.

The computer models matched satellite data for ice losses -- raising confidence in the findings -- and showed that losses were due equally to meltwater, caused by rising temperatures, and icebergs breaking off from glaciers.

"This helps us to understand the processes that affect Greenland. This will also help us predict what will happen," van den Broeke said. Until now, the relative roles of snowfall, icebergs and thawing ice have been poorly understood.

Greenland locks up enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7 meters (23 ft) if it ever all thawed. At the other end of the globe, far-colder Antarctica contains ice equivalent to 58 meters of sea level rise, according to U.N. estimates.

About 190 governments will meet in Copenhagen from December 7-18 to try to agree a U.N. pact to slow global warming, fearing that rising temperatures will bring more powerful storms, heatwaves, mudslides and species extinctions as well as rising sea levels.

The study said losses of ice from Greenland would have been roughly double recent rates but were masked by more snowfall and a re-freezing of some meltwater before it reached the sea.

In total, Greenland lost about 1,500 billion tons of ice from 2000-08, split between icebergs cracking into the sea from glaciers and water runoff. "The mass loss would have been twice as great," without offsetting effects, Van den Broeke said.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated in 2007 that world sea levels could rise by 18-59 cms by 2100. A natural expansion of water as it warms would account for most of the rise, rather than melting ice.

Greenland's current rate, of 0.75 mm a year, would be 7.5 cms if continued for 100 years. "This is...much more that previous estimates of the Greenland contribution," van den Broeke said.


11-15-2009, 07:04 PM
Bristol University study on Greenland ice melt spells global danger

Sunday, November 15th 2009 00:00

The Greenland ice cap is melting at three-times the rate of decline just ten years ago.

Global warming is responsible for nearly 273-gigatonnes of water being released from Greenland into the oceans every year - the equivalent of 300 Lake Windermeres.

A study conducted by Bristol University, led by Professor Jonathan Bamber, highlights the dangerous effects this is having on sea levels, and even the effect on the earth's gravitational pull.

It's been published in a paper in Science.

Lake Windermere contains around 1 gigatonne of water, which is the entire daily water usage of Great Britain.

Bamber says, "It is clear from these results that mass loss from Greenland has been accelerating since the late 1990s and the underlying causes suggest this trend is likely to continue in the near future. We have produced agreement between two totally independent estimates, giving us a lot of confidence in the numbers and our inferences about the processes".


11-17-2009, 12:47 AM
"earth's gravitational pull"

on what?

The moon - more water, less ice = the moon will shift out of orbit how many hundreds of thousands of years from now. . . . sheesh

11-19-2009, 09:40 PM
U.S. group sees worsening coastal flooding threat

Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:22pm EST

* East Coast cities more vulnerable to rising sea levels

* Fast-melting Greenland, Antarctica ice heighten concern

By Richard Cowan (http://blogs.reuters.com/search/journalist.php?edition=us&n=richard.cowan&)

WASHINGTON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Fast-melting ice from Greenland and Antarctica will lead to a much sharper rise in sea levels than previously estimated, touching off flooding that will radically alter U.S. East Coast cities from Miami to Baltimore, according to a new study.

Climate change will cause a rise of at least 1 meter (39 inches) in sea levels by the end of this century, according to a review of scientific data by Clean Air-Cool Planet, an environmental group that calls itself nonpartisan.

The projection is in sharp contrast to a 2007 study by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said world sea levels could increase 18-59 centimeters (7-23 inches) by 2100.

"We are on our way to radically changing what the coasts look like," said Jim White, a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, who worked on the study. "Norfolk could replace New Orleans as the poster child" for coastal flooding, he told reporters on Thursday.

Norfolk, Virginia, situated near the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, is home to the world's largest naval base.

The group said it based its conclusions on a study of ice melting by Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

The 2007 U.N. study linked most of its projected sea level rise to a natural expansion of water as it warms. But newer scientific data has focused more on the added impact of ice sheets sliding into oceans.

Gordon Hamilton, an associate professor at the University of Maine, said satellite data shows that Greenland is shedding ice at an accelerated rate, pushing more and more of it into the ocean.

"Icebergs are being calved off the ice sheet at a rate three times faster now than just a few years ago," he said.

Clean Air-Cool Planet wants aggressive action by governments around the world to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

To bolster those efforts, the group is traveling along the U.S. East Coast with maps showing flooding possibilities in various cities.

Urban planners attending some of the presentations say they already are factoring in flooding concerns to long-term studies on infrastructure upgrades, according to Hamilton and White.

Officials of more than 190 countries are set to meet Dec. 7-18 in Copenhagen to discuss steps for reducing carbon emissions. But leaders of those countries acknowledge that a deal will not be wrapped up in the Danish capital and that six months to a year of additional negotiating might be needed. (Editing by Xavier Briand (http://blogs.reuters.com/search/journalist.php?edition=us&n=xavier.briand&))


11-23-2009, 09:35 PM
Sea level rise could cost port cities $28 trillion

By Peter Wilkinson, CNN
November 23, 2009 9:40 a.m. EST

The melting of ice caps in Greenland and the Antarctic could mean sea levels rising by 0.5 meters, the report says.

Possible rise in sea levels by 0.5 meters by 2050 could put at risk more than $28 trillion worth of assets, report says

London, England (CNN) -- A possible rise in sea levels by 0.5 meters by 2050 could put at risk more than $28 trillion worth of assets in the world's largest coastal cities, according to a report compiled for the insurance industry.

The value of infrastructure exposed in so-called "port mega-cities," urban conurbations with more than 10 million people, is just $3 trillion at present.

The rise in potential losses would be a result of expected greater urbanization and increased exposure of this greater population to catastrophic surge events occurring once every 100 years caused by rising sea levels and higher temperatures.

The report, released on Monday by WWF and financial services Allianz, concludes that the world's diverse regions and ecosystems are close to temperature thresholds -- or "tipping points."

Any one of these surge events could unleash devastating environmental, social and economic changes amid a higher urban population.

According to the report, carried out by the UK-based Tyndall Centre, the impacts of passing "Tipping Points" on the livelihoods of people and economic assets have been underestimated.

Global temperatures have already risen by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius and the report says a further rise by 2-3 degrees in the second half of the century is likely unless deep cuts in emissions are put in place before 2015.

The consequent melting of the Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Shield could lead to one such tipping point scenario, possibly a sea level rise of up to 0.5 meters by 2050.

The report focuses on regions and phenomena where such events might be expected to cause significant environmental (http://topics.cnn.com/topics/nature_and_the_environment) impacts within the first half of the century.

For example a hurricane in New York, which could cost $1 trillion now, would mean a $5 trillion insurance bill by the middle of the century, the report adds.

"If we don't take immediate action against climate change, we are in grave danger of disruptive and devastating changes," said Kim Carstensen, the Head of WWF Global Climate Initiative.

"Reaching a tipping point means losing something forever. This must be a strong argument for world leaders to agree a strong and binding climate deal in Copenhagen in December."


11-30-2009, 10:18 PM
The Atmosphere Is Not Waiting For
Human Decision

By Andrew Glikson
30 November, 2009
The cumulative nature and centuries to millennia-scale atmospheric residence time of CO2 is tracking toward the natural boundary between the current interglacial climate state and a transient greenhouse climate state, defined by paleoclimate history above a level equivalent to 500 ppm CO2 [1]. The effects of this rise are evidenced by contemporaneous melting of Mountain glaciers, Arctic Sea ice, Greenland and West and East Antarctica ice sheets (Fig. 1) and the increasing rate of sea level rise.

Global warming by +0.8 degrees C since 1750, plus +0.5 degrees C currently masked by sulphur aerosols, with further effects of ice albedo (reflection) loss not yet accounted for, has surpassed the temperature rise associated with the last interglacial (Emian: 124,000 years ago; ~ +1 degree C; ~ +4 to 6 meter sea level rise) (Figs 2 – 4). At 460 ppm CO2-e (a value including the CO2-equivalent radiative forcing of methane) the energy level of the atmosphere exceeds that of the mid-Pliocene (2.8 million years ago; CO2 ~400 ppm, +2 to +3 degrees C; sea levels +25±12 meters). As CO2 and temperatures rise they track toward levels reached in the mid-Miocene ~13-15 million years ago (CO2 levels near-500 ppm; deep sea temperature 4.0 - 4.4 degrees C) and the Oligocene (CO2 ~650 ppm; deep sea temperatures ~5 degrees C; sea levels tens of meters higher than at present) (Figs 5, 6). Trends in atmospheric CO2, temperatures, ice age phases and greenhouse phases in Earth history demonstrate close relations between atmospheric CO2 levels of below 500 ppm and glaciations (Figs 2 – 4).

There is no known precedence in the recent history of Earth for a rise in CO2 as fast as the current rate of 2 ppm/year. With an upper stability limit of the Antarctic ice sheet at about 500 ppm [1], the onset of ice melt at the margins of East Antarctica [2] raises the possibility Earth may be tracking toward ice-free conditions analogous to those of the late Eocene (>500 ppm CO2; +5 degrees C; +70 meters sea level). There is no knowing the time table towards an ice-free Earth, the current “experiment” by Homo sapiens being unique in the history of the planet.

The history of the Pleistocene (1.8 – 0.01 million years-ago) glacial-interglacial era is dominated by abrupt shifts in the state of the climate [3]. During this time gradual climate changes were repeatedly interrupted by abrupt tipping points, involving temperature shifts of several degrees over a few centuries, a few decades and even a few years [4]. The implications for an unstable, highly reactive, nature of the atmosphere are clear.

Having placed a man on the moon, split the atom, coded the DNA and created a World Wide Web, science and technology possess the ingenuity required for 11th hour attempts at climate change mitigation and adaptation, including bio-sequestration and CO2 down-draw techniques. However, the $trillion-scale funding needed to implement these methods continues to be poured into the military, casinos and games. A medieval state of mind appears to be manifest through a resistance to enlightenment and to science. Much like the grieving cycle of Helen Kubler-Ross, denial, resistance, anger and finally resignation alternate. Vested interests embark on massive well financed disinformation campaign, using mouthpieces who defy the basic laws of physics and often fabricate climate data. Governments undertake merely symbolic actions out of step with scientific projections of looming climate tipping points. None of the targets discussed in Copenhagen gets near the minimum effort required to reduce the increasing carbon emissions and deforestation.

What is referred to as climate change represents, in terms of Earth’s history, a Great Oxidation Event perpetrated by a Prometheans who assumed the mastery of fire. We may never understand the natural rationale for a species to cut and burn the forests from which it descended, proceed to dig and burn the fossil remnants of past biospheres and unconsciously render the atmosphere, the lungs of the Earth, unsuitable for its own future.

Figure 1.

Greenland, west Antarctica and East Antarctica ice melt rates and glacier thinning in meters per year (ma-1). British Antarctic Survey. The red and purple areas represent ice melting at rates larger than 0.5 meters per year. Grey areas have no ice melt data.

Figure 2.

Variations in Oxygen and CO2 through the last 600 million years of Earth evolution. Note the concomitant decline in CO2 and increase in O2 during ice ages, and the opposite relations during greenhouse phases of Earth history.

Oxygen plot after Berner et al. 2007 [6]. CO2 plot after Royer 2004 [1]. The blue bars represent glacial periods, with heights corresponding to the latitudes the ice sheets reached.
Figure 3

Paleo-CO2 and paleo-temperature plots for the periods 400 million year to the present and 65 million years to the present. Note the upper ~500 ppm CO2 boundary between glacial and greenhouse Earth climate conditions.
IPCC-2007 Chapter 6.

Top: Atmospheric CO2 and continental glaciation 400 Ma to present. Vertical blue bars mark the timing and paleo-latitudinal extent of ice sheets. Plotted CO2 records four major proxies.

Middle: Global compilation of deep-sea temperatures based on 18O of fossil plankton from 40 Deep Sea Drilling Program and Ocean Drilling Program sites.

Bottom: Detailed record of CO2 for the last 65 Million years. Estimates based on soil nodules have high uncertainty.
Figure 4.

Atmospheric CO2 and ocean bottom temperatures for the period 25 – 10 million years ago (Oligocene-Miocene). Paleo-temperatures are based on 18O and Ca/Mg ratios; Paleo CO2 levels are based on Stomata (fossil leaves pores), carbon isotopes and boron isotopes. Royer, 2008. PNAS, 105, 407-408, January 15, 2008 [1].

Figure 5.

Sea levels relative to mean global temperatures in the Eocene (>34 million years ago), mid-Pliocene (~3 million years ago), at present and during the last glacial maximum (20,000 years ago). After Rahmstorf, 2005. Climate Change Fact Sheet Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ( www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan (http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan))

Figure 6.

Paleogeographic map of Australia during the Oligocene – Miocene (~30 – 10 million years ago), showing land areas (brown) and sea covered areas (light blue). Australian Paleogeographic Atlas, AGSO.

By Andrew Glikson


12-04-2009, 10:09 PM
Earth could plunge into sudden ice age

Experts: ‘Big Freeze’ about 12,800 years ago happened within months

http://msnbcmedia2.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/091202-tech-dayafter-hlarge.hlarge.jpg 20th Century Fox
The film "The Day After Tomorrow" was all good fiction when it came out in 2004, but now scientists are finding eerie truths to the possibilities of sudden temperature swings.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/images/icons/slideshow.gif (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34242917/displaymode/1176/rstry/34242705/) View related photos (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34242917/displaymode/1176/rstry/34242705/)

By Charles Q. Choi

In the film, "The Day After Tomorrow," the world gets gripped in ice within the span of just a few weeks. Now research now suggests an eerily similar event might indeed have occurred in the past.

Looking ahead to the future, there is no reason why such a freeze shouldn't happen again — and in ironic fashion (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34242705/ns/technology_and_science-science/#) it could be precipitated if ongoing changes in climate (http://www.livescience.com/environment/080127-new-epoch.html) force the Greenland ice sheet to suddenly melt, scientists say.

Starting roughly 12,800 years ago, the Northern Hemisphere was gripped by a chill that lasted some 1,300 years. Known by scientists as the Younger Dryas and nicknamed the"Big Freeze," (http://www.livescience.com/animals/090720-cosmic-impact.html) geological evidence suggests it was brought on when a vast pulse of fresh water — a greater volume than all of North America's Great Lakes combined — poured into the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

This abrupt influx, caused when the glacial Lake Agassiz in North America burst its banks, diluted the circulation of warmer water in the North Atlantic, bringing this "conveyer belt" (http://www.livescience.com/environment/050629_fresh_water.html) to a halt. Without this warming influence, evidence shows that temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere plummeted.

No time to react
Previous evidence from Greenland ice samples had suggested this abrupt shift (http://www.livescience.com/animals/090720-cosmic-impact.html) in climate happened over the span of a decade or so. Now researchers say it surprisingly may have taken place over the course of a few months, or a year or two at most.

"That the climate system can turn on and off that quickly is extremely important," said earth system scientist Henry Mullins at Syracuse University, who did not take part in this research. "Once the tipping point is reached, there would be essentially no opportunity for humans to react."

For two years, isotope biogeochemist William Patterson at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and his colleagues investigated a mud core — a tube of mud — taken from the ancient lake Lough Monreach in Ireland. Because this sediment was deposited slowly over time, each layer from this core effectively represents a snapshot of history, with slices just a half-millimeter thick presenting one to three months.

"Basically, I drive around in western Ireland looking for the right conditions — bedrock, vegetation and lake — to obtain the most complete record of climate," Patterson explained.

The details
By looking at isotopes of carbon in each slice, the researchers could deduce how productive (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34242705/ns/technology_and_science-science/#) the lake was. When plants grow in lakes, they prefer carbon-12 to make up their organic tissue — that is, carbon atoms that have 12 protons and neutrons in total in their nucleus. This leaves the lake water with relatively more carbon-13. At the same time, oxygen isotopes give a picture of temperature — when animals or plants produce calcium carbonate, the ratio of oxygen-16 and oxygen-18 isotopes within are related to temperature.

At the start of the Younger Dryas, Patterson and his colleagues discovered temperatures and lake productivity (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34242705/ns/technology_and_science-science/#) dropped over the course of just a few years.

"It would be like taking Ireland today and moving it up to above the Arctic Circle, creating icy conditions in a very short period of time," Patterson said.

Their findings also suggest that it may have taken 100 to 200 years before the lake and climate recovered, rather than the decade or so that Greenland ice cores had indicated.

"This makes sense because it would take time for the ocean and atmospheric circulation to turn on again," Patterson said.

The discrepancies between the evidence from the mud core and the ice cores might be due to disturbances in how material flowed within the ice. "Sometimes there's melting, and you have percolation of material between layers, which can blur the records," Patterson explained. "We found a core that had not been disturbed even on a millimeter by millimeter basis, so the sediment had been layered in order since it was deposited."

Chilly future
Looking ahead to the future, Patterson said there was no reason why a big freeze shouldn't happen again.

"If the Greenland ice sheet melted suddenly it would be catastrophic (http://www.livescience.com/environment/top10_naturaldisasterthreats_us.html)," he said.

This kind of scenario would not discount (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34242705/ns/technology_and_science-science/#) evidence pointing toward global warming — after all, it leans on the Greenland ice sheet melting.

"We could say that global warming could lead to a dramatic cooling," Patterson told LiveScience. "This should serve as a further warning rather than a pass."

"People assume that we're political, that we're either pro-global-warming or anti-global-warming, when it's really neither," Patterson added. "Our goal is just to understand climate."

Patterson and his colleagues detailed their findings at the European Science Foundation BOREAS conference on humans in the Arctic, in Rovaniemi, Finland.


Ought Six
12-05-2009, 04:26 PM
So now that AGW has turned out to be nothing more than a massive fraud, we are back to 'global cooling'? :mkay:

I guess we always have to have some kind of massive incipient disaster to justify massive government intervention and control.

12-05-2009, 04:50 PM
So now that AGW has turned out to be nothing more than a massive fraud, we are back to 'global cooling'? :mkay:

I guess we always have to have some kind of massive incipient disaster to justify massive government intervention and control.

We know you understand about the cooling....:rolleyes:
Climategate doesn't change the facts

our planet is at risk; Global warming deniers will do anything to confuse public
By Graham Thomson, Edmonton JournalDecember 5, 2009

I'd like to thank everyone who has written to me the past week about the "Climategate" affair to tell me this is proof positive that the theory of climate change is a hoax.
After all, I always appreciate hearing from readers.

But I'm not sure you needed to make your point by putting your comments in capital letters followed by exclamation points, although I suppose "GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX!!!" has a certain flair.

However, no matter how large the type or all the exclamation points, the fact remains the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets continue to melt, the seas continue to rise, and the climate continues to change.
And the fact remains that no matter how loud the furor surrounding "Climategate" becomes, it does not disprove the theory of man-made climate change any more than the "Piltdown Man" fraud of 1912 disproved the theory of evolution.

"Climategate," as it has been dubbed by global warming deniers, involves the theft from the University of East Anglia of thousands of e-mails sent between several top climate change scientists. Cherrypicked quotations from the emails certainly make it appear the scientists acted unscientifically in trying to suppress contradictory research. But many of the excerpts were taken out of context. The word "trick" in the emails, for example, has been played up as proof the scientists were trying to deceive the public when in fact it's a term used to describe a technique to deal with complex data.

More troubling, admittedly, are allegations the scientists conspired to suppress evidence that didn't support their conclusions. The scientists have denied any wrongdoing--but the scandal has forced Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit, to step down as an investigation starts up. Indeed, an investigation is needed to clear the air, so to speak.

The facts over Climategate are perplexing but what it clearly demonstrates is the lengths the denial industry will travel to in an attempt to to confuse the public over climate change. One Canadian climatologist, Andrew Weaver at the University of Victoria, says scientists face a well-orchestrated campaign of harassment by deniers of global warming. He says his office has been broken into twice and hackers have tried to break into his computer system several times. "They were trying to find any dirt they could, as they have done in the U.K.," said Weaver. If they can't find "dirt," they manufacture it from out-of-context e-mails or skewed statistics.

Climategate has also demonstrated how inept scientists are at public relations. The moment the scandal broke the scientists involved tried to lay low, refusing to answer reporters' questions. That gave the impression they had something to hide. When they did respond, the damage had been done.

The denial industry is ruthless, tireless and in more than a few cases well-funded by the energy industry. It is remarkably similar to the campaign launched by the tobacco industry over the years against scientific evidence linking cigarette smoke --first-hand and second-hand--to cancer. In fact, some of the very same people behind the tobacco-denial industry are behind the climate-change-denial industry.

Author George Monbiot wrote about this in his book Heat: How to Stop the World From Burning and quoted a memo from one tobacco company saying, "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy."

Tobacco companies raised doubt by trotting out bought-and-paid-for experts who cherry-picked data. The tobacco industry and the climate-change-denial industry don't have to prove that respected scientific data are wrong, they merely have to raise doubts about the data and confuse the public.

One favourite statistic used by deniers is that the earth's climate has been cooling, not warming, since 1998. However, the year 1998 was what Monbiot calls a "wild outlier," where a strong El Nino effect combined with background climate change to create the warmest year on record. While no individual year has been as warm since then, the past decade has been the warmest on record. In fact, eight of the 10 hottest years in the past 160 years have occurred since 2001.

Besides confusing people, Climategate has detracted attention from the latest evidence of climate change. A team of 26 scientists has released a new report called The Copenhagen Diagnosis that warns "several important aspects of climate change are occurring at the high end or even beyond the expectations of only a few years ago."
Among the findings:

-"both the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass and contributing to sea level rise at an increasing rate."

-"Arctic sea-ice has melted far beyond the expectations of climate models."

-"Sea level has risen more than five centimetres over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) projections from 2001."

The report concludes "global emissions must peak then decline rapidly within the next five to ten years for the world to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the very worst impacts of climate change."

Even if you were to take the handful of scientists tainted by "Climategate" and banish them to a disintegrating ice floe in the Arctic, the science of climate change wouldn't disappear with them.

(By the way, a sincere thank-you to everyone who joined me for an online chat about carbon capture and storage at The Journal's web page on Thursday. I'm sorry there wasn't time to answer everybody's question and hope we can chat again).


12-08-2009, 09:50 PM
Absence of Evidence for a Meteorite Impact Event 13,000 Years Ago

Greenland. A black mat layer across North America which is correlated to the Younger Dryas climatic shift is seen in Greenland ice cores dated at 13,000 years ago by radio carbon dating. (Credit: iStockphoto/Frank Van Den Bergh)

ScienceDaily (Dec. 7, 2009) — An international team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has found no evidence supporting an extraterrestrial impact event at the onset of the Younger Dryas approximately 13,000 years ago.

The Younger Dryas is an abrupt cooling event in Earth's history. It coincided with the extinction of many large mammals including the woolly mammoth, the saber toothed jaguar and many sloths. This cooling period is generally considered to be the result of the complex global climate system, possibly spurred on by a reduction or slowdown of the thermohaline circulation in North America. This paradigm was challenged two years ago by a group of researchers that reported finding high iridium concentrations in terrestrial sediments dated during this time period, which led them to theorise that an impact event was instead the instigator of this climate shift.

A team led by François Paquay, a Doctoral graduate student in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) decided to also investigate this theory, to add more evidence to what they considered a conceptually appealing theory. However, not only were they unable to replicate the results found by the other researchers, but additional lines of evidence failed to support an impact theory for the onset of the Younger Dryas.

Their results will be published in the December 7th early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The idea that an impact event may have been the instigator for this cooling period was appealing because of several alleged impact markers, especially the high iridium concentrations that the previous team reported. However, it is difficult for proponents of this theory to explain why no impact crater of this age is known. "There is a black mat layer across North America which is correlated to the Younger Dryas climatic shift seen in Greenland ice cores dated at 13,000 years ago by radio carbon," explains Paquay. "Initially I thought this type of layer could be associated with an impact event because concentration in the proxies of widespread wildfires are sky high. That plus very high levels of iridium (which is one indicator used to indicate extraterrestrial impact events). So the theory was conceptually appealing, but because of the missing impact site, the idea of one or multiple airburst arose."

To corroborate the theory, Paquay and his colleagues decided to take a three-pronged approach. The first was to replicate the original researchers data, the second step was to look for other tracers, specifically osmium isotopes, of extraterrestrial matter in those rocks, and the third step was to look for these concentrations in other settings. "Because there are so many aspects to the impact theory, we decided to just focus on geochemical evidence that was associated with it, like the concentration of iridium and other platinum group elements, and the osmium isotopes," says Paquay. "We also decided to look in very high resolution sediment cores across North America, and yet we could find nothing in our data to support their theory."

The team includes American, Belgian and Canadian researchers. Analysis of the sediments was done both at UHM and in Belgium, using the same sediments from the same interval and indepedently did the analysis work and got similar results. Both the marine and terrestrial sediment records do not indicate that an impact event was the trigger for the transition into the Younger Dryas cold period. "The marine and terrestrial record both complement each other to support this finding," concludes Paquay. "That's what makes the beauty of this study."

This project was supported by the Geological Society of America and the National Science Foundation. Sediment samples were provided by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

The other authors from this paper are Greg Ravizza (also from UHM), Steven Goderis and Philippe Claeys from Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Frank Vanhaeck from the Universiteit Ghent, Matthew Boyd from Lakehead University, Todd A. Surovell from the University of Wyoming at Laramie, and Vance T. Holliday and C. Vance Haynes, Jr. from the University of Arizona at Tucson.

This research will be presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall 2009 Meeting in San Francisco. Wednesday December 16th, 2:52 PM -- 3:04 PM, Room 2006 Moscone West


12-09-2009, 10:23 AM
We know you understand about the cooling....:rolleyes:

Just like we know that you are breathlessly anticipating the global disaster.


The Gloom and Doomer. A first cousin of the Herald of Disaster is the Gloom and Doomer. The difference between the two is that Heralds of Disaster are more panicky and focus on specific events. Their tone is different, urgent, frantic, and borderline hysterical. All their statements end in exclamation points. The Gloom and Doomers have a hopeless tone to them. They are more resigned to things not working out and they don’t get excited or upset about anything. In fact their reactions are dead. “It can’t be done, if it hasn’t’ been done before it isn’t going to be done now, and you aren’t going to do any different, so don’t even try.” These are the people who continuously told the Wright brothers to give up, to forget it, who said, “If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings.” If you have a new invention, don’t tell one of them, because they will only throw dirt on your sparks.

If you fit one of these categories and want help in overcoming negativity please contact Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott, Negaholic Specialist, at [email protected]

Hope this helps.


12-09-2009, 10:44 PM
Just like we know that you are breathlessly anticipating the global disaster.


Hope this helps.

I said a long time ago that all of the AGW debate is nonsense. The climate is going to change...that's what it does. It's done it before, and it'll do it again.

Lying to ourselves isn't going to help anybody. We can tell ourselves the lie that it won't happen, and we'll find ourselves unprepared. We can tell ourselves the lie that addressing AGW will stop climate change, and we'll find ourselves unprepared.

We don't need to waste time and money disproving AGW anymore than we should waste time and money trying to cut greenhouse gases (it's too late for that). We best get busy getting ready.

Sea level rise could cost port cities $28 trillion

By Peter Wilkinson, CNN
November 23, 2009 9:40 a.m. EST

The melting of ice caps in Greenland and the Antarctic could mean sea levels rising by 0.5 meters, the report says.


Possible rise in sea levels by 0.5 meters by 2050 could put at risk more than $28 trillion worth of assets, report says
London, England (CNN) -- A possible rise in sea levels by 0.5 meters by 2050 could put at risk more than $28 trillion worth of assets in the world's largest coastal cities, according to a report compiled for the insurance industry.

The value of infrastructure exposed in so-called "port mega-cities," urban conurbations with more than 10 million people, is just $3 trillion at present....

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/11/23/climate.report.wwf.allianz/ (http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/11/23/climate.report.wwf.allianz/)

12-13-2009, 01:08 PM
Mystery Volcano May Have Triggered Mini Ice Age
December 12, 2009

Listen to the Story (http://javascript<b></b>:NPR.Player.openPlayer(121377379, 121380404, null, NPR.Player.Action.PLAY_NOW, NPR.Player.Type.STORY, '0'))

Researchers suspect the mystery volcano may have been somewhere near the equator.
December 12, 2009
Global warming may be making some people nervous now, but from 1810 to 1819, people worried because the Earth was colder than usual.
For an entire decade, the Earth cooled almost a full degree Fahrenheit. In fact, 1816 was known as the year without a summer. And until recently, scientists weren't quite sure why everyone was shivering.

The chill of 1816 has long been blamed on an Indonesian volcano called Tambora, which erupted the year before. But no one could figure out why the years before Tambora's eruption were also colder than usual.

Now, newly uncovered evidence in the ice of Antarctica and Greenland suggests that yet another volcanic eruption may have contributed to the worldwide dip in temperatures.

Jihong Cole-Dai, a chemistry professor at South Dakota State University, led the expeditions to Antarctica and Greenland. He tells NPR's Guy Raz that volcanoes dump large quantities of ash and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. That material acts almost like a giant window shade, reflecting sunlight and lowering temperatures on the ground for years afterward.

But Cole-Dai says one eruption isn't enough to chill an entire decade. He knew something else had to have been going on. And he found evidence — layers of sulfur — in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica that showed another volcano had erupted some time in 1809, kicking off a sort of mini ice age.

Cole-Dai says his research team isn't sure exactly where the mystery volcano is, but they suspect that it was somewhere far from the Earth's poles — near the equator — and that it had to be large enough to blanket the planet in ash.

It's tempting to conclude that shooting a load of sulfur into the air might combat global warming. Not so fast, Cole-Dai says. It might be possible, but not ideal: The sulfur would linger in the atmosphere for a few years, cooling the Earth. But then it would come down again — as acid rain.


Ought Six
12-14-2009, 06:32 PM
s:"Just like we know that you are breathlessly anticipating the global disaster."http://thisbluemarble.com/showthread.php?t=22096

12-14-2009, 09:50 PM
The upside 06, is that the rising sea-levels will produce in a lot of new mud for you to sling:mkay:

Gore: Polar ice may vanish in 5-7 years
By CHARLES J. HANLEY (AP) – 4 hours ago
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/media/ALeqM5izrABXo2GKKfea13mvF1vxCKKxTg?size=s2 (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/slideshow/ALeqM5hGkx5ED3BxWScLRJuzhDFRm9wAzwD9CJACDG0?index= 0&ned=us)

COPENHAGEN — New computer modeling suggests the Arctic Ocean may be nearly ice-free in the summertime as early as 2014, Al Gore said Monday at the U.N. climate conference. This new projection, following several years of dramatic retreat by polar sea ice, suggests that the ice cap may nearly vanish in the summer much sooner than the year 2030, as was forecast by a U.S. government agency eight months ago.

One U.S. government scientist Monday questioned the new prediction as too severe, but other researchers previously have projected a quicker end than 2030 to the Arctic summer ice cap.

"It is hard to capture the astonishment that the experts in the science of ice felt when they saw this," said former U.S. Vice President Gore, who joined Scandinavian officials and scientists to brief journalists and delegates. It was Gore's first appearance at the two-week conference.

The group presented two new reports updating fast-moving developments in Antarctica, the autonomous Danish territory of Greenland, and the rest of the Arctic.

"The time for collective and immediate action on climate change is now," said Denmark's foreign minister, Per Stig Moeller.

But delegates from 192 nations were bogged down in disputes over key issues. This further dimmed hopes for immediate action to cut more deeply into global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Gore and Danish ice scientist Dorthe Dahl Jensen clicked through two slide shows for a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds in a side event at the Bella Center conference site.

One report, on the Greenland ice sheet, was issued by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, an expert group formed by eight Arctic governments, including the United States. The other, commissioned by Gore and Norway's government, was compiled by the Norwegian Polar Institute on the status of ice melt worldwide.

Average global temperatures have increased 0.74 degrees C (1.3 degrees F) in the past century, but the mercury has risen at least twice as quickly in the Arctic. Scientists say the makeup of the frozen north polar sea has shifted significantly in recent years as much of the thick multiyear ice has given way to thin seasonal ice.

In the summer of 2007, the Arctic ice cap dwindled to a record-low minimum extent of 4.3 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles) in September. The melting in 2008 and 2009 was not as extensive, but still ranked as the second- and third-greatest decreases on record.

Last April, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that Arctic summers could be almost ice-free within 30 years, not at the 21st century's end as earlier predicted.

Gore cited new scientific work at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, whose Arctic ice research is important for planning polar voyages by Navy submarines. The computer modeling there stresses the "volumetric," looking not just at the surface extent of ice but its thickness as well.

"Some of the models suggest that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap during some of the summer months will be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years," Gore said. His office later said he meant nearly ice-free, because ice would be expected to survive in island channels and other locations.

Asked for comment, one U.S. government scientist questioned what he called this "aggressive" projection.

"It's possible but not likely," said Mark Serreze of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. "We're sticking with 2030."
On the other hand, a leading NASA ice scientist, Jay Zwally, said last year that the Arctic could be essentially ice-free within "five to less than 10 years."

Meanwhile, what's happening to Greenland's titanic ice sheet "has really surprised us," said Jensen of the University of Copenhagen.

She cited one huge glacier in west Greenland, at Jakobshavn, that in recent years has doubled its rate of dumping ice into the sea. Between melted land ice and heat expansion of ocean waters, the sea-level rise has increased from 1.8 millimeters a year to 3.4 millimeters (.07 inch a year to .13 inch) in the past 10 years.

Jensen said the biggest ice sheets — Greenland and West Antarctica — were already contributing 1 millimeter (.04 inch) a year to those rising sea levels. She said this could double within the next decade.
"With global warming, we have woken giants," she said.


12-16-2009, 10:49 PM
Study suggests greater sea level rise from warming
NEW YORK — Global warming in this century might raise sea levels more than expected in future centuries, says a study that looked at what happened at a time when Neanderthals roamed Europe.

Unless global warming is curbed or expensive measures are taken to hold back rising water, the projected sea level rise could submerge about one-third of Florida, southern Manhattan, much of Bangladesh and almost all the Netherlands, for example, researchers said.

An expert praised the work but cautioned that such projections can't be made with precision.

Earth naturally alternates between ice ages and warmer times, due to changes in the tilt of the planet and its orbit around the sun. It is now in a warmer spell that began some 10,000 years ago. But scientists say that man-made, heat-trapping gases are driving the warming beyond the natural amount.

Warmth can raise sea levels by expanding water volume and melting huge sheets of ice in Greenland and Antarctica. To get an idea of what future warming might do to sea levels, scientists at Princeton and Harvard universities looked at Earth's last warm period, which peaked some 125,000 years ago. It's sometimes called the Eemian stage.

During this time, Neanderthals lived in Europe and elephants roamed what is now southern Britain and New York state. Lions prowled and hippos bathed in France, Spain and Italy. But such animals were different species from their cousins in Africa today, adapted to different temperatures.

So what happened to sea level during the warm Eemian stage? Previous studies have estimated that the global sea level was maybe 13 feet to 20 feet higher than today.
The new work, reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, says it almost certainly peaked at more than 22 feet higher than today. In fact, it probably rose between 26 feet and 30 feet, researchers concluded.

Temperatures at the North and South Poles — critical for triggering ice melt — could return to Eemian levels again if the global temperature rises about 4 degrees (2 degrees Celsius), the researchers said.

Scientists project that without concerted action, as is now being discussed in Copenhagen, Earth could add that much heat in this century from the buildup of greenhouse gases.

If the polar regions once more reach Eemian-like temperatures, the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica "are at risk of large-scale disintegration," said Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton, an author of the study.

"We may be locking in this (future) event by the temperatures we reach this century," said Oppenheimer in a telephone interview from Copenhagen.

He said it's not clear how long such temperatures would have to continue in the future to set off large-scale melting; it could take centuries or a much briefer time, he said.

Nor can the study tell how fast the water rose per century during the Eemian, said Robert Kopp of Princeton, another study author. It estimates a rate of about 20 to 30 feet per 1,000 years.

The researchers estimated Eemian sea levels by looking at data from fossil corals and ancient sediments from nearly 50 sites around the world.

"It's a very impressive piece of work," said Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University, who didn't participate in the study. "I really don't expect this is going to be the last word (about the Eemian) ... but I think this is the best word at this point."

He cautioned that scientists can't yet predict what happens to ice sheets at given global temperatures. But he said the work confirms that "ice sheets are vulnerable to warming, and it doesn't take very many degrees to really change the size of an ice sheet."

12-21-2009, 08:53 PM
Greenland Glaciers: Water Flowing Beneath Ice Plays More Complex Role

ScienceDaily (Dec. 16, 2009) — Scientists who study the melting of Greenland's glaciers are discovering that water flowing beneath the ice plays a much more complex role than they previously imagined.

Researchers previously thought that meltwater simply lubricated ice against the bedrock, speeding the flow of glaciers out to sea.

Now, new studies have revealed that the effect of meltwater on acceleration and ice loss -- through fast-moving outlet glaciers that connect the inland ice sheet to the ocean -- is much more complex. This is because a kind of plumbing system evolves over time at the base of the ice, expanding and shrinking with the volume of meltwater.

Researchers are now developing new low-cost technologies to track the flow of glaciers and get a glimpse of what lies beneath the ice.

As ice melts, water trickles down into the glacier through crevices large and small, and eventually forms vast rivers and lakes under the ice, explained Ian Howat, assistant professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University. Researchers once thought that this sub-glacial water was to blame for sudden speed-ups of outlet glaciers along the Greenland coasts.

"We've come to realize that sub-glacial meltwater is not responsible for the big accelerations that we've seen for the last ten years," Howat said. "Changes in the glacial fronts, where the ice meets the ocean, are the real key."

"That doesn't mean that meltwater is not important," he continued. "It plays a role along these glacial fronts -- it's just a very complex role, one that makes it hard for us to predict the future."

In a press conference at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco on December 16, 2009, Howat will join colleagues from the University of Colorado-Boulder/NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to discuss three related projects -- all of which aim to uncover how this meltwater interacts with ice and the ocean.

Their work has implications for ice loss elsewhere in the world -- including Antarctica -- and could ultimately lead to better estimates of future sea level rise due to climate change.

Howat leads a team of researchers who are planting inexpensive global positioning system (GPS) devices on the ice in Greenland and Alaska to track glacial flow. Designed to transmit their data off the ice, these systems have to be inexpensive, because there's a high likelihood that they will never be recovered from the highly crevassed glaciers.

Howat will describe the team's early results at the AGU meeting, and give an overview of what researchers have learned about meltwater so far.

John Adler, a doctoral student at CIRES, works to calculate the volume of water in lakes on the top of the ice sheet. These lakes periodically drain, and the entire water volume disappears into the ice. He uses small unmanned aerial vehicles to measure the ice's surface roughness -- an indication of where cracks may form to enable this drainage to happen. Other members of his team are releasing GPS-tagged autonomous probes into the meltwater itself, to follow the water all the way down to the base of the ice sheet and out to sea.

"My tenet is pushing the miniaturization of technology, so that small autonomous platforms -- in the sea, on the surface, or in the air -- can reliably gather scientific information in remote regions," Adler said.

All these efforts require cutting-edge technology, and that's where Alberto Behar of JPL comes in. An Investigation Scientist on the upcoming Mars rover project, Behar designs the GPS units that will give researchers the data they need.

Howat's team placed six units on outlet glaciers in Greenland last year, and this year they placed three in Greenland and three in Alaska. The units offer centimeter-scale measurements of ice speed, and Behar designed the power and communications systems to keep the overall cost per unit as inexpensive as possible.

Howat has found that glacial meltwater at the base of the ice sheet has little influence on ice loss along the coast -- most of the time.

All over Greenland, meltwater collects beneath the ice, gradually carving out an intricate network of passageways called moulins. The moulins form an ever-changing plumbing system that regulate where water collects between the ice and bedrock at different times of the year. According to Howat, meltwater increases as ice melts in the summer, and decreases as water re-freezes in winter.

In the early summer, the sudden influx of water overwhelms the subglacial drainage system, causing the water pressure to increase and the ice to lift off its bed and flow faster, to the tune of 100 meters per year, he said. The water passageways quickly expand, however, and reduce the water pressure so that by mid-summer the glaciers are flowing slowly again.

Inland, this summertime boost in speed is very noticeable, since the glaciers are moving so slowly in general.

But outlet glaciers along the coast are already flowing out to sea at rates as high as 10 kilometers per year -- a rate too high to be caused by the meltwater.

"So you have this inland ice moving slowly, and you have these outlet glaciers moving 100 times faster. Those outlet glaciers are feeling a small acceleration from the meltwater, but overall the contribution is negligible," Howat said.

His team looked for correlations between times of peak meltwater in the summer and times of sudden acceleration in outlet glaciers, and found none. "Some of these outlet glaciers accelerated in the wintertime, and some of accelerated over long periods of time. The changes didn't correlate with any time that you would expect there to be more melt," he added.

So if meltwater is not responsible for rapidly moving outlet glaciers, then what is responsible? Howat suspects that the ocean is the cause.

Through computer modeling, he and his colleagues have determined that friction between the glacial walls and the fjords that surround them is probably what holds outlet glaciers in place, and sudden increases in ocean water temperature cause the outlet glaciers to speed up.

Howat did point out two cases in which meltwater can have a dramatic effect on ice loss along the coast: it can expand within cracks to form stress fractures, or it can bubble out from under the base of the ice sheet and stir up the warmer ocean water. Both circumstances can cause large pieces of the glacier to break off.

At one point, he and his colleagues witnessed the latter effect first hand. They detected a sudden decrease of sub-glacial meltwater inland, only to see a giant plume of dirty water burst out from under the ice at the nearby water's edge.

The dirty water was freshwater -- glacial meltwater. It sprayed out from between the glacier and the bedrock "like a fire hose," Howat said. Since saltwater is more dense than freshwater, the freshwater bubbled straight up to the surface. "This was the equivalent of the pipes bursting on all that plumbing beneath the ice, releasing the pressure."

That kind of turbulence stirs up the warm ocean water, and can cause more ice to melt, he said. "So you can't just say, 'if you increase melting, you increase glacial speed.' The relationship is much more complex than that, and since the plumbing system evolves over time, it's especially hard to pin down."

This research was funded by Ohio State's Climate, Water, and Carbon Program; NASA; and the National Science Foundation.


12-22-2009, 09:09 PM
Mysteries of Greenland's ice

By John D. Cox (http://news.discovery.com/contributors/john-d.-cox/) | Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:26 AM ET Ice scientists are changing their thinking about the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the two-mile deep block of ice that holds enough water to fill the Gulf of Mexico and put coastal regions awash in rising seas.

Watching surface ice melt in rising temperatures, researchers a few years ago surmised that the meltwater pouring through crevices in the ice sheet reached the base of the ice sheet, lubricating its movement over bedrock and causing outlet glaciers to flow more quickly into the sea. Now the picture looks more complicated, they say, and less predictable.

http://blogs.discovery.com/.a/6a00d8341bf67c53ef01287675356f970c-800wi (http://blogs.discovery.com/.a/6a00d8341bf67c53ef01287675356f970c-pi)

"We've come to realize that sub glacial melt water is not responsible for the big acceleration that we've seen in the last ten years," Ian Howat, an Ohio State University researcher, told the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. "Changes in the glacial fronts, where the ice meets the ocean, are the real key."

This image, courtesy of researcher Alberto Behar, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows mist rising above the collapse of ice from the face of a west Greenland outlet glacier.

Meltwater increases through the summer, sending torrents thundering through pathways through the ice and slowing as the season shifts to winter, but the researchers found that the outlet glaciers in their study area of western Greenland do not exactly track this pattern.

To their surprise, they found that the outlet glaciers actually slowed their flow to the sea in the middle of summer, a time of maximum ice melt when they might have been expected to be flowing fastest. Instead of responding directly to the meltwater flow, something else was at work.

The meltwater evidently overwhelms the system of tunnels through and beneath the ice sheet, causing them to collapse, and the glacier comes skidding to a stop. "This was the equivalent of the pipes bursting on all that plumbing beneath the ice, releasing the pressure," said Howat.

So increasing melting does not automatically translate into faster glacier speed. "The relationship is much more complex than that," he said, "and since the plumbing system evolves over time, it's especially hard to pin down."

What they do know, with more confidence now, is that Greenland ice sheet is losing mass much faster than it was 10 years ago, Howat said. "Now we can confidently say that the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass at a rate of somewhere between 100 and 200 gigatons per year, a rate of one-half millimeter per year in sea level rise."

Ought Six
12-23-2009, 01:09 AM
".... a rate of one-half millimeter per year in sea level rise."25.4 millimeters per inch, so that means in a little over a half-century, we might get a one inch rise in sea level from the Greenland ice sheet melting a little faster.

12-23-2009, 02:36 PM
25.4 millimeters per inch, so that means in a little over a half-century, we might get a one inch rise in sea level from the Greenland ice sheet melting a little faster.

If it would continue to melt like it does now.

They said:

What they do know, with more confidence now, is that Greenland ice sheet is losing mass much faster than it was 10 years ago, Howat said. "Now we can confidently say that the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass at a rate of somewhere between 100 and 200 gigatons per year, a rate of one-half millimeter per year in sea level rise."

The rate is much faster then ten years ago and it'll be faster 10 years from now increasing with arctic ice loss.

12-23-2009, 03:10 PM
If it would continue to melt like it does now.

They said:

The rate is much faster then ten years ago and it'll be faster 10 years from now increasing with arctic ice loss.

Except that according to the article above that one, Greenland will be ice-free in 10 years. So does that mean that when the whole thing melts it will only raise global sea levels a quarter of an inch?

Of course, all of this speculation is just that. I find it interesting that Caonacl has posted 3 articles to this thread in the last week or so with wildly different claims about sea-level rise.

She cited one huge glacier in west Greenland, at Jakobshavn, that in recent years has doubled its rate of dumping ice into the sea. Between melted land ice and heat expansion of ocean waters, the sea-level rise has increased from 1.8 millimeters a year to 3.4 millimeters (.07 inch a year to .13 inch) in the past 10 years.

Jensen said the biggest ice sheets — Greenland and West Antarctica — were already contributing 1 millimeter (.04 inch) a year to those rising sea levels. She said this could double within the next decade.

NEW YORK — Global warming in this century might raise sea levels more than expected in future centuries, says a study that looked at what happened at a time when Neanderthals roamed Europe.

Unless global warming is curbed or expensive measures are taken to hold back rising water, the projected sea level rise could submerge about one-third of Florida, southern Manhattan, much of Bangladesh and almost all the Netherlands, for example, researchers said.

"Now we can confidently say that the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass at a rate of somewhere between 100 and 200 gigatons per year, a rate of one-half millimeter per year in sea level rise."
(no link provided for this one, sorry)

If there was any actual science behind any of these claims, you would think that they would at least be close to each other. Maybe they should get together and vote on which one is the best estimate. Isn't that what the IPCC did to form their "consensus"?


01-01-2010, 10:02 AM
As the ice melts Greenland switches to heavy industry

Thursday, 17 December, 2009 08:15
http://cop15post.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Greenland2.jpg (http://cop15post.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Greenland2.jpg) Fishermen´s livelihoods are increasingly being replaced with tourism and mining (Photo: Shutterstock)
Traditional practises being phased out in favour of mineral extraction, hydro power and oil drilling

By Tiffany Fisher
Climate change in Greenland has generated an industrial revolution. Due to melting ice and warming oceans, the country says it must adapt in order to survive. Fish and shellfish account for a huge a proportion of Greenland’s exports, yet warmer ocean currents are decimating prawn stocks, which make up over half of the trade. Studies indicate that cod are replacing prawns and halibut. However, there is a steep transition cost for refitting boats and factories to accommodate different types of fishing.

Seal hunting is also a problem. The animals are migrating to colder waters. Milder temperatures make it unsafe for hunters to use their dogsleds and villagers in remote areas are becoming concerned about the lack of seal meat.

Hunters and fishermen are forfeiting their traditional lifestyles in favour of other industries. According to the documentaries, Greenland and Double Effect, an easy transition appears to be tourism. In the film a local fisherman claims the people have become ‘tourists in our own town’ responding to unusual changes in the weather and finding themselves swamped with tourists. Hunters and fishermen are hoping to profit from tourists rather than their catch. The hope is that traditional lifestyles will not be completely lost.

Greenland will be 75 percent dependent on hydroelectric power by 2010. This technology harnesses the glacial melt water – of which there is an increasing supply. Industries such as these are “vital in order to create a self-sustaining economy” according to the Employers Association of Greenland.

Mineral and oil deposits will be increasingly exploited. “Greenland wants to turn the mineral resources industry into one of the country’s primary business areas,” says the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum. Gold, lead, zinc, precious stones, and uranium mines all have the potential to employ hundreds of workers.

Thirteen offshore areas have been licensed for oil and natural gas extraction. The Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum states, “It is a central strategic aim to make the industry interested in investing in oil exploration in Greenland.”

But some Greenlanders are dismayed at the current pollution levels in their country, which would only be exacerbated by more mines, factories, and potential oil spills. The Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum is not worried, stating that a formal assessment of the offshore areas to ensure that “The activities undertaken will have the least possible negative impact on the environment.”

Greenland gained autonomy in lieu of Danish Home Rule earlier this year. In the past twenty years, a major economic expansion has seen GDP grow by 188 percent. It is up to Greenland to decide which tack their industrial revolution will take.


Ought Six
01-01-2010, 04:19 PM
K:"The rate is much faster then ten years ago and it'll be faster 10 years from now increasing with arctic ice loss.".... because simplistic linear predictions when it comes to something as incredibly complex and variable as our climate are always right. :ohmygod:

But hey, no problem! It will be quite easy to fabricate a computer model from cherrypicked, 'massaged' and falsifiied to 'prove' your prediction. ;)

01-01-2010, 04:55 PM
K:.... because linear predictions when it comes to something as incredibly complex and variable as our climate are always right. :ohmygod:
Various climate change feedback mechanisms make predictions difficult. Suffice it to say, "We're on an express elevator to hell; going down!"

01-01-2010, 05:41 PM
I looked up the global sea surface area, LINK, (http://www.net-comber.com/worldarea.html) and found we have 361,132,400 square kilometers.

Think of a cubic kilometer and slice it into 1 meter slabs, this will give us 1,000 slabs 1 metre deep, so if we divide the global sea area by 1,000 we get 361,132.4 cubic kilometres of water. That is the amount of water we need to raise the sea level by one meter.

One cubic kilometer of water is 1000 x 1000 x 1000 cubic meters or 10^9 tons or 1 gigaton. We have 361,132.4 cubic kilometers so we end up with that number of gigatons.

So if the Greenland ice is melting at say 150 gigatons a year (see post #114 above) it will take 2,407 years of melting to raise the sea level by 1 meter.

This figure is an underestimate because no allowance has been made for flooding of low lying lands close to the sea shores.

I think we have some time to strengthen our sea defences. :D

01-01-2010, 05:55 PM
I looked up the global sea surface area, LINK, (http://www.net-comber.com/worldarea.html) and found we have 361,132,400 square kilometers.

Think of a cubic kilometer and slice it into 1 meter slabs, this will give us 1,000 slabs 1 metre deep, so if we divide the global sea area by 1,000 we get 361,132.4 cubic kilometres of water. That is the amount of water we need to raise the sea level by one meter.

One cubic kilometer of water is 1000 x 1000 x 1000 cubic meters or 10^9 tons or 1 gigaton. We have 361,132.4 cubic kilometers so we end up with that number of gigatons.

So if the Greenland ice is melting at say 150 gigatons a year (see post #114 above) it will take 2,407 years of melting to raise the sea level by 1 meter.

This figure is an underestimate because no allowance has been made for flooding of low lying lands close to the sea shores.

I think we have some time to strengthen our sea defences. :D
You forgot to factor in the acceleration effect.

Many real world phenomena can be modeled by functions that describe how things grow or decay as time passes. Examples of such phenomena include the studies of populations, bacteria, the AIDS virus, radioactive substances, electricity, temperatures and credit payments, to mention a few.

Any quantity that grows or decays by a fixed percent at regular intervals is said to possess exponential growth or exponential decay.

At the Algebra level, there are two functions that can be easily used to illustrate the concepts of growth or decay in applied situations. When a quantity grows by a fixed percent at regular intervals, the pattern can be represented by the functions,

a = initial amount before measuring growth/decay
r = growth/decay rate (often a percent)
x = number of time intervals that have passed

Cell Phone UsersIn 1985, there were 285 cell phone subscribers in the small town of Centerville. The number of subscribers increased by 75% per year after 1985. How many cell phone subscribers were in Centerville in 1994? (Don't consider a fractional part of a person.)

There are 43871 subscribers in 1994.


a = the initial amount before the growth begins
r = growth rate

x = the number of intervals http://regentsprep.org/REgents/math/ALGEBRA/AE7/ExpDec21.gif

as x ranges from 1 to 9 for this problem

After the data points are plotted, set Y1 = to the function, and graph. The function and the scatter plot will overlap as they did at the right.

horizontal axis = year (1986 = 1)
vertical axis = number of cell phone users

01-01-2010, 06:05 PM
Well, if you have some valid past and present melt rates - give it a go.

Ought Six
01-01-2010, 06:18 PM
c:"Suffice it to say, "We're on an express elevator to hell; going down!""Wishful thinking (for a doom junkie). The truth is, we (that includes *you*) have no idea what the future of our climate holds. The warming could get worse, or stop, or reverse, or we could fall into a new ice age of any level of severity from mild to catastrophic. The idea that we can accurately predict the climate in any significant way is nothing more than a laughable conceit held by arrogant and/or corrupt scientists, and parroted by those whose agenda is served by the idea.

01-01-2010, 06:59 PM
Well, if you have some valid past and present melt rates - give it a go.
I do not. I'm just saying it's not a linear function.

01-01-2010, 08:29 PM
Even if there is not global warming due to the increasing levels of CO2 in the world's atmosphere, I wonder if enough of the increasing levels of ash, soot and dust in the world's atmosphere from human activities might be drifting to ice covered areas and settling on that ice causing more rapid ice melt.

Ought Six
01-02-2010, 01:58 AM
If that were true, would not significant volcanic events be accompanied by a significant and sudden increase in the rate of melt for that year? I know there have been big eruptions in Siberia, and I think Iceland as well. I wonder if anyone has tried to make that correlation?

01-02-2010, 03:42 AM
Andrea Thompson
- LiveScience
- December 15, 2009
Pollution May Be Melting the Himalayas

Tiny particles of pollution known as "black carbon" — and not heat-trapping greenhouse gases — may be causing most of the rapid melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, a key water source for much of Asia.

SAN FRANCISCO — Tiny particles of pollution known as "black carbon" — and not heat-trapping greenhouse gases — may be causing most of the rapid melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, a key water source for much of Asia.

The contribution of this form of man-made pollution (http://www.livescience.com/topic/pollution), sometimes called soot, to the speedy melting occurring in this mountainous region — sometimes known as Earth's "third pole" — was discussed here today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Earth's third pole
The Himalayas (http://www.livescience.com/environment/080821-tibet-tectonics.html) are home to some 110 peaks that stretch along 1,550 miles of Asia and harbor 10,000 glaciers. These massive rivers of ice hold the third largest amount of stored fresh water on the planet (after the North and South Poles).

All that frozen water is the main source of replenishment to lakes, streams and some of the continent's mightiest rivers, on which millions of people depend for their water supplies.

But since the 1960s, the acreage covered by Himalayan glaciers has declined by more than 20 percent. Some glaciers are melting away so rapidly that scientists worry they could disappear by mid-century.
The rate of warming in the Himalayas has been about twice the global average over the past 30 years, scientists have found.

New research by several groups of scientists has found that the increase in greenhouse gases (http://www.livescience.com/topic/greenhouse), such as carbon dioxide, might not be the main culprit. Instead, another more localized source of pollution emitted by industrial and other processes might be responsible for most of the melt.
"Tibet's glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate," said James Hansen, a member of one of the study teams and the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. "Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt, and greenhouse gases are responsible for the rest."
Black carbon

Black soot (or black carbon (http://www.livescience.com/environment/080407-gw-soot.html)) is created when the combustion from burning fossil fuels is incomplete.

Many of the major cities near the Himalayas — Delhi, Karachi and Dhaka — are responsible for the production of this pollution through the use of diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and outdoor cooking stoves. The amount of soot emitted from the area's cities has been on the rise in recent decades.

"This is a very populated and polluted area," said William Lau, member of another study team and head of atmospheric science at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The circulation of the atmosphere in the region causes much of the soot-laden air to "pile up" against the Himalayas, Lau explained at a press conference here today.

This soot mixes with other dust from nearby deserts, creating a massive brown cloud (http://www.livescience.com/environment/070801_brown_haze.html) visible from space that absorbs incoming solar radiation. As this layer heats up in the Himalayan foothills, it rises and enhances the seasonal northward flow of humid monsoon winds, forcing moisture and hot air up the slopes of the majestic mountain range.

As these particles rise on the warm, overturning air masses, they produce more rain over northern India, which further warms the atmosphere and fuels this "heat pump" that draws even more warm air to the region.
This "heat pump" changes the timing and intensity of the monsoon, transferring heat and hastening the melting of glaciers in the region.

Soot deposited on the glaciers themselves could also increase the melt rate by decreasing the amount of sunlight the icy surfaces reflect and increasing the amount of heat absorbed.

Contribution to climate change
Both studies that have modeled this air-mass movement, along with examinations of soot levels in cores of ice drilled from the glaciers, have shown that soot likely has a strong effect on the climate and warming in the region.
Scientists say more work is needed to pin down the relative contributions of black carbon and greenhouse gases.

"The science suggests that we've got to better monitor the flue on our 'rooftop to the world,'" Lau said. "We need to add another topic to the climate dialogue."

But the scientists at the meeting stressed the importance of monitoring this warming contribution because of its potential impact on water sources in Asia. The worry is that if glaciers disappear, so will the fresh water they provide to the region's inhabitants.


also see
http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2009/12/15/black-soot-choking-tibetan-glaciers.html (http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2009/12/15/black-soot-choking-tibetan-glaciers.html)

01-02-2010, 03:46 AM
Black and White: Soot on Ice

Soot is normally something you think of at the bottom of your chimney, but it also gets into the air, and scientists have been finding it at the frozen Arctic. Soot gets into the air when fuel, vegetation and firewood are burned. When you watch the smoke and soot drift away from your chimney, you normally wouldn't think that it would drift to the North Pole and change the ice and snow there.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110639main_icecleanPrintt.jpg (http://www.nasa.gov/mpeg/110649main_blacksoot.mpeg) http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110640main_icesootPrintt.jpg (http://www.nasa.gov/mpeg/110649main_blacksoot.mpeg)
Images above: This is a conceptual animation showing how polar ice reflects light from the sun. As this ice begins to melt, less sunlight gets reflected into space. It is instead absorbed into the oceans and land, raising the overall temperature, and fueling further melting. Darker, soot-covered ice reflects less light as well, part of the warming effect (no audio). Click on either image to view animation. Credit: NASA

NASA has been exploring how black carbon or soot affects the Earth's climate, by using satellite data and computer models that recreate the climate. New findings show that soot may be contributing to changes happening at the North Pole, such as increasing melting of sea ice and snow and warming atmospheric temperatures.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110644main1_bc_emission_t.jpg (http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110643main_bc_emission.jpg) Image to right: Black Carbon Emissions: Industrial and biomass black carbon emissions with boxed areas showing regions assumed in the model experiments. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA/GISS

Dorothy Koch of Columbia University, N.Y. and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, and James Hansen of NASA GISS are co-authors of the study that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

"This research offers additional evidence that black carbon may have a significant warming impact on the Arctic," Koch said. Warmer temperatures in the Arctic mean melting ice and snow, among other things. These temperature and ice changes also wind up affecting climate patterns around the world.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110646main1_black_carbon_t.jpg (http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110645main_black_carbon.jpg) Image to left: Regional Concentrations of Black Carbon: (top left) Annual zonal mean black carbon concentration and percent contributions from regional experiments. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA/GISS

The Arctic is especially vulnerable to pollution. In recent years the Arctic has significantly warmed, and sea-ice cover and glaciers have diminished. Likely causes for these trends include changing weather patterns and the effects of pollution. Airborne soot also warms the air and affects weather patterns and clouds.

Black carbon has already been implicated as playing a role in melting ice and snow. Basically, when soot falls on ice, it darkens the surface and accelerates melting by absorbing more sunlight than ice would, just as wearing a black shirt in the summertime makes you feel hotter than if you wore a lighter color. Dark colors absorb heat and light, and lighter colors reflect it keeping surfaces cooler.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110638main_albedo2.gif (http://www.nasa.gov/mpeg/110648main_Albedo.mpeg) Image to right: Global Reflections: This is a conceptual animation showing how melting ice on land and at sea, can affect the surrounding ocean water, changing both the chemistry and relative sea level. Click on image to view animation (no audio). Credit: NASA

Koch and Hansen used a NASA computer model and information gathered by many NASA satellites to get their finding.

The research found that in the atmosphere over the Arctic, about one-third of the soot comes from South Asia, one-third from burning biomass or vegetation around the world, and the remainder from Russia, Europe and North America.

South Asia is estimated to have the largest industrial soot emissions in the world, and the meteorology in that region readily sweeps pollution into the upper atmosphere where it is easily transported to the North Pole. Meanwhile, the pollution from Europe and Russia travels closer to the surface.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/110641main_soot.gif Image to left: Soot Particle Under a Microscope - Credit: D.M. Smith, University of Denver

During the early 1980s the main sources of Arctic pollution are believed to have been from Russia and Europe. Both of those areas have decreased their tiny particles of pollution in the last 20 years, but the pollution from South Asia has increased. Koch and Hansen suggest that Southern Asia also makes the greatest contribution to soot deposited on Greenland.

By exploring processes in the Earth’s atmosphere, NASA scientists are seeking answers to how pollutants like soot are changing the climate of the world around us.

Ought Six
01-02-2010, 04:37 AM
It seems that the major source of soot emissions is Chinese coal-fired power plants.


01-02-2010, 09:54 AM
If that were true, would not significant volcanic events be accompanied by a significant and sudden increase in the rate of melt for that year? I know there have been big eruptions in Siberia, and I think Iceland as well. I wonder if anyone has tried to make that correlation?

The eruption of Mount Saint Helens put about 2/3rds. of a cubic mile of material into the atmosphere.

The volume of annual coal burned by the world is about one cubic mile. The same with annual petroleum burned, about one cubic mile. Natural gas is also burned in a great quantity. Then there's the widespread burning of forests and grasslands. The biggie though is probably dust from heavy construction, agriculture and the simple movement of motorized vehicles across soil surfaces.

Also, there's the increased dust in the air from natural winds blowing across the at least 1/6th. of the world's surface that has been cleared and mineralized by human activity.

01-02-2010, 11:57 AM
HSD, could you add links, or sources to your info for us please?

01-02-2010, 12:21 PM
HSD, could you add links, or sources to your info for us please?

The world extracts and burns about 6 to 7 billion tons of coal and a similar a quantity of oil each year which nearly equals a cubic mile of each. A link for that is not hard to find nor is the volume of material ejected by the eruption of Mount Saint Helens.

The 1/6th. of the world's land being cleared and mineralized which is about 6 to 7 billion acres is the sum of actively farmed cropland and pastureland in the world. While it's not all bare year round, much of it is bare for much of each year. Note - There's quite a bit more (above that 6 to 7 billion acres) of marginal rangeland in the world which generally is overgrazed and subject to windblown erosion.

Then there's the millions of acres of forest and grassland deliberately burned each year.

Ought Six
01-02-2010, 04:22 PM
Soot And The Arctic Ice – A Win-Win Policy Based On Chinese Coal Fired Power Plants (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/21/soot-and-the-arctic-ice-–-a-win-win-policy-based-on-chinese-coal-fired-power-plants”/)

Kiminori Itoh of Yokohama National University
Climate Science blog, via WhatsUpWithThat blog

As you saw in a recent weblog in Climate Science, China appears to be modifying the global climate through aerosol emission from a large number of coal fired power plants: August 12, 2009, New Paper “Increase In Background Stratospheric Aerosol Observed With Lidar” By Hofmann Et Al 2009. This paper gave me an idea that soot from China may be responsible for the recent reduction of the Arctic ice, which finally leads me to a Win-Win policy on coal fired power plants in China, as you see below.

The target of the paper of Hofmann et al was sulfate aerosol transported into stratosphere. Thus, its main effect on the global climate is cooling of the troposphere and warming of the stratosphere similar to volcanic eruptions. In fact, this paper was introduced in Science (24 July 2009, p. 373) with the title of “China’s Human Volcano.”

The Chinese aerosol, however, can have another effect on the climate. That is, a possible influence of soot on the Arctic ice. It seems to me that Hofmann et al.’s paper, together with other recent findings, gives evidence for this possibility as follows:

1) Hofmann et al’s paper shows that stratospheric haze became densest in 2007 and declined a little after that. According to their claim, this is associated with the changes in sulfate emissions from China. This fact reminds me that the ice extent in the Arctic sea was significantly reduced in the 2007 summer and recovered after that. Since the amount soot should be proportional to that of sulfate, also the amount soot transported to the Arctic may have a peak in 2007, and may explain the dramatic reduction of the sea ice extent; the soot deposited onto the ice surfaces absorbs sun light of Arctic summer, gives heat to the ice, and lets it melt. This process should be particularly effective during summer of the Arctic when the sun does not set.

2) About half of the recent temperature increase in the Arctic region is reportedly due to aerosols (combination effects of sulfate and soot) (D. Shindell and G. Faluvegi, Nature Geosci. 2, 294-300 (2009)); this result convinces one that the influence of soot on the Arctic environment does exist.

3) There are other recent papers on soot: e. g., “Atmospheric brown clouds: Hemispherical and regional variations in long-range transport, absorption, and radiative forcing,” V. Ramanathan et al., J. Geophys. Res. vol. 112, D22S21, doi:10.1029/2006JD008124, 2007.

From these results, I suspect that the soot from China is responsible for the recent reduction of sea ice in the Arctic summer. To verify this, detailed chemical analyses, such as carbon allotropes, should be made if the soot can be sampled from the ice (this may be an interesting project).

Thus, I can claim that the influence of the soot is likely large. Then, according to the spirit of the precautionary principle, the soot from China should be reduced even if the scientific basis is not sufficient. The precautionary principle should be applied not just to CO2, but to other primary factors of climate changes. If this is not possible just because there is no statement on soot in the FCCC (Framework of Convention of Climate Change), we need another convention (or protocol) which enables us to treat soot properly. Otherwise, countermeasures on climate change will be useless.

Now, I want to point out that the reduction of the Chinese soot can become a Win-Win policy for China as well as for other countries. About 80% of the Chinese electricity comes from coal fired power plants. The CO2 emission from China in 2004 was about 2.27 billion metric tons, which was 8.6% of the world emissions (26.3 billion metric tons). But, their efficiency of energy production is still low (34.6% as an average), and emissions other than CO2 and aerosol (i. e., mainly SOx, NOx and mercury) bring heavy health problems as well. In fact, resultant atmospheric pollution causes 300 thousands to 400 thousands of deaths a year.

If countries like Japan, which has advanced technologies of coal fired power plants (e. g., energy production efficiency being 41.1% in Japan), can cooperate with China to increase the efficiency of energy production and to decrease all kinds of emissions, this will become a true Win-Win policy. China can save a lot of human lives and working hours, can reduce the influence of the aerosol on the global climate, and in addition, can reduce CO2 emission. The other countries also benefit from this policy, including economical ones and a reduction of transboundary pollution.

This Win-Win policy actually will reduce the emission of CO2. Just from this aspect, it is much better than the cap-and-trade policy which in fact will increase the CO2 emissions. Moreover, and importantly, when considering a large capacity of coal reserves, this is a reasonable tactics in near future.

With this kind of Win-Win policies, developing countries like China can agree with developed countries on their energy policies. There will be no progress in the negotiation between them if the developing countries can participate in the climate policies only through the reduction of CO2. We need flexible approaches for complicated issues like the climate changes.

01-09-2010, 10:25 AM
Heading for catastrophe
Date: 09 January 2010
STEVE Ellis (Climate always changes, Jan 7) has failed to understand the most basic meteorology - that weather is not the same as climate. It may be colder than usual in some parts of the northern hemisphere, but Alaska and northern Canada are 5-10C warmer than the average for this time of year, as are North Africa and the Mediterranean.

The two could be related, with blocks of high pressure preventing air flow between the land and the sea. This is called weather, which is not always predictable and changes quite often. It is not the same as climate, and single events are not the same as trends.

The earth's climate has changed many times in it's history, but current attention is on man-made global warming.

The past 10 years were the hottest decade since records began in terms of average temperatures across the globe.

The increase in carbon dioxide emissions since the industrial revolution has set in train further changes which we are powerless to prevent. Even if we were to drastically reduce our emissions today, the time it will take for this to impact on the global climate will not prevent the disappearance of summer ice in the arctic and the likely extinction of the polar bear in the wild, perhaps within 50 years.

However, if we do not take drastic and permanent action, we risk triggering 'tipping points' such as the complete loss of the Greenland ice sheet and the melting of the Arctic tundra.

The critical temperature threshold beyond which these events could not be stopped could be crossed this century. By that time, billions of people and much of the worlds wildlife will be suffering the catastrophic effects, and it is hard to see how 'normal life' as we know it could ever return.
Chris Buck, S11 global warming is happening, that is one reason for this colder, yes, colder winter.

Increased 'global' temperatures impart more energy into the weather system and creates an increase in extreme weather patterns - both hotter summers and colder winters.

It has obviously missed Mr Ellis's notice that Australia is experiencing their hottest summer since records began.

Coun JG Harston, Walkley Ward, Sheffield City Council

01-11-2010, 09:01 PM
Why the US and much of Europe are shivering in the cold

The Arctic Oscillation has dropped a blanket of cold air over North America and Europe at the same time that the Arctic itself has warmed up.
By John Timmer (http://thisbluemarble.com/author/john-timmer/) | Last updated January 11, 2010 5:33 PM


Those of us shivering through extended stretches of subfreezing temperatures might be forgiven for getting a bit impatient for the onset of more significant global warming. And, if you're reading Ars, chances are good that this describes you, as the US and Europe have been blanketed in an unusual chill. Ironically, as these inhabited parts shiver, the atmospheric system that's causing it, the Arctic Oscillation, has covered Greenland and the Arctic Ocean with air that's equally as extreme, but in the warm direction.

The folks who run the National Center for Atmospheric Research have a great rundown (http://www2.ucar.edu/magazine/currents/brrr-ao-way-low) of the details of the AO Oscillation. In short, high pressure in the Arctic forces the jet stream south, and it drags cold air with it, chilling North American and northern Eurasia. In its opposite mode, those same regions tend to be much warmer. Right now, we're in such an extreme high-pressure event that the readings have run off the scale of NOAA's AO index. Fortunately for those hoping to warm up a bit, the AO is a weather event—it often changes states multiple times within a single season, and there's no clear evidence linking its behavior to climate trends.

The NCAR site also points out one of the reasons why people are making a big deal out of this one: we tend to think short-term when it comes to our surroundings. We haven't had an AO event this severe since 2003, and the high pressure mode has been relatively rare since 1990, so many places have simply gotten used to not having an Arctic blast during the winter. The fact that November was unusually warm in the US, Canada, and Europe probably doesn't help matters, either.

When it comes to longer-term impacts, this strong phase of the AO may significantly alter the dynamics of the Arctic Ocean's ice pack, which responds both to weather events and climactic trends (http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/04/youth-of-arctic-sea-ice-revises-predictions-of-ice-free-pole.ars). Most of the Arctic Ocean freezes up during the winter, but the warm air present may limit the extent and thickness of solid ice sheets, meaning a lot of this year's freeze is likely to simply remelt next summer. At the same time, however, the wind patterns that are prevailing will drive less of the ice out of the Arctic Ocean, which may preserve some of the older, more robust multiyear ice.


01-18-2010, 08:53 PM
CryoSat-2 arrives safely at launch site

18 January 2010, by Marion O'Sullivan
The European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 Earth Explorer satellite has arrived at the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan, where it will be prepared for launch on 25 February.

http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/images/uploaded/medium/cryosat-m.jpg Artist's impression of CryoSat in orbit.

The CryoSat mission is designed to make unprecedented measurements of the thickness of sea ice in the polar oceans and the vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

Diminishing ice cover at the poles provides an early indication of global warming rates. Because ice plays an important role in regulating climate and sea level, the consequences of change are far-reaching.

'We need more information to understand how climate change is affecting the poles but until now we haven't been able to measure Arctic sea ice thickness, so this mission will help us to complete the picture of what's happening,' said Professor Duncan Wingham from the Centre for Polar Observation Modelling (part of NERC's National Centre for Earth Observation) and lead scientist for the CryoSat mission. 'CryoSat-2 will not only measure the sea ice thickness, it will measure changes in the sea-surface height, from which we can deduce what the wind is doing to the Arctic ocean. This will enable us to test the potential climate impacts of a faster moving, ice-free Arctic ocean.'

CryoSat-2 has a back-up system for its sole instrument - its radar altimeter - which should make it very reliable.

The launch campaign team will spend the next six weeks preparing the satellite for launch. CryoSat-2 will be launched by a Dnepr rocket - a converted intercontinental ballistic missile - on Thursday 25 February at 13.57 GMT (14.57 CET).

Following on from the GOCE and SMOS satellites, CryoSat-2 will be the third of ESA's Earth Explorers launched over the past year.


Ought Six
01-19-2010, 05:36 PM
Oops! The Himalayas are not melting after all.


"Oh. Nevermind!"

01-20-2010, 09:56 PM
Cave Reveals Southwest's Abrupt Climate Swings During Ice Age

ScienceDaily (Jan. 20, 2010) — Ice Age climate records from an Arizona stalagmite link the Southwest's winter precipitation to temperatures in the North Atlantic, according to new research.

The finding is the first to document that the abrupt changes in Ice Age climate known from Greenland also occurred in the southwestern U.S., said co-author Julia E. Cole of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

"It's a new picture of the climate in the Southwest during the last Ice Age," said Cole, a UA professor of geosciences. "When it was cold in Greenland, it was wet here, and when it was warm in Greenland, it was dry here."

The researchers tapped into the natural climate archives recorded in a stalagmite from a limestone cave in southern Arizona. Stalagmites grow up from cave floors.

The stalagmite yielded an almost continuous, century-by-century climate record spanning 55,000 to 11,000 years ago. During that time ice sheets covered much of North America, and the Southwest was cooler and wetter than it is now.

Cole and her colleagues found the Southwest flip-flopped between wet and dry periods during the period studied.

Each climate regime lasted from a few hundred years to more than one thousand years, she said. In many cases, the transition from wet to dry or vice versa took less than 200 years.

"These changes are part of a global pattern of abrupt changes that were first documented in Greenland ice cores," she said. "No one had documented those changes in the Southwest before."

Scientists suggest that changes in the northern Atlantic Oean's circulation drove the changes in Greenland's Ice Age climate, Cole said. "Those changes resulted in atmospheric changes that pushed around the Southwest's climate."

She added that observations from the 20th and 21st centuries link modern-day alterations in the North Atlantic's temperature with changes in the storm track that controls the Southwest's winter precipitation.
"Also, changes in the storm track are the kinds of changes we expect to see in a warming world," she said. "When you warm the North Atlantic, you move the storm track north."

The team's paper is scheduled for publication in the February issue of Nature Geoscience. Cole's UA co-authors are Jennifer D. M. Wagner, J. Warren Beck, P. Jonathan Patchett and Heidi R. Barnett. Co-author Gideon M. Henderson is from the University of Oxford, U.K.

Cole became interested in studying cave formations as natural climate archives about 10 years ago. At the suggestion of some local cave specialists, she and her students began working in the Cave of the Bells, an active limestone cave in the Santa Rita Mountains.

In such a cave, mineral-rich water percolates through the soil into the cave below and onto its floor. As the water loses carbon dioxide, the mineral known as calcium carbonate is left behind. As the calcium carbonate accumulates in the same spot on the cave floor over thousands of years, it forms a stalagmite.

The researchers chose the particular stalagmite for study because it was deep enough in the cave that the humidity was always high, an important condition for preservation of climate records, Cole said. Following established cave conservation protocols, the researchers removed the formation, which was less than 18 inches tall.

For laboratory analyses, first author Wagner took a core about one inch in diameter from the center of the stalagmite. The scientists then returned the formation to the cave, glued it back into its previous location with special epoxy and capped it with a limestone plug.

To read the climate record preserved in the stalagmite, Wagner sliced the core lengthwise several times for several different analyses.

On one slice, she shaved more than 1,200 hair-thin, 100-micron samples and measured what types of oxygen molecule each one contained.
A rare form of oxygen, oxygen-18, is more common in the calcium carbonate deposited during dry years. By seeing how much oxygen-18 was present in each layer, the scientists could reconstruct the region's pattern of wet and dry climate.

To assign dates to each wet and dry period, Wagner used another slice of the core for an analysis called uranium-thorium dating.

The radioactive element uranium is present in minute amounts in the water dripping onto a stalagmite. The uranium then becomes part of the formation. Uranium decays into the element thorium at a steady and known rate, so its decay rate can be used to construct a timeline of a stalagmite's growth.

By matching the stalagmite's growth timeline with the sequence of wet and dry periods revealed by the oxygen analyses, the researchers could tell in century-by-century detail when the Southwest was wet and when it was dry.

"This work shows the promise of caves to providing climate records for the Southwest. It's a new kind of climate record for this region," Cole said.
She and her colleagues are now expanding their efforts by sampling other cave formations in the region.

The National Science Foundation, the Geological Society of America and the University of Arizona's Faculty Small Grant program funded the research.


01-23-2010, 02:24 PM
Last updated January 22, 2010 6:45 p.m. PT
Global warming is real, and we should be worried
Our Cascade Range was the "nursery" for Seattle-based explorer, author and photographer James Martin, the Canadian Rockies' Athabasca Glacier was where he learned to ice climb, and South Georgia Island near Antarctica is his favorite of all places.

But Martin, author of "Planet Ice", has also learned that ice is the key to life for polar bears in the Arctic, farmers near the Equator in Peru, and even the globe's most populous nation.

"The northern part of Tibet is called the water tower of China, and it is going dry," Martin told an audience at The Mountaineers on Thursday night.

Hours before he spoke, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released unsettling figures on the Earth's surface temperature. The decade ending in 2009 was the warmest on record.

The federal agency found, as well, that 2009 was the second warmest year since 1880, when modern temperature measurement commenced. The warmest year was 2005, and other years atop the list have come since 1998.

Global warming skeptics tend to be a sarcastic, sedentary lot. They send out screeds, question the work of scientists, but rarely if ever venture out to look at visual evidence around them.

The photos and essays of "Planet Ice," the latest exhibit book published by Braided River (an offshoot of Mountaineers Books), lay out that evidence. Martin put it on the screen in his lecture.

The Athabasca Glacier, on the Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park, has pulled back more than a mile: Where Martin first learned ice climbing techniques, there is rock.

Not far away, in Banff National Park, ice tentacles that give the Crowsfoot Glacier its name have disappeared. "The talons of the Crowsfoot have been clipped off," Martin related.

The NASA data published on Thursday, and first reported in the New York Times, showed temperatures climbing at a rate of about .36 degrees Fahrenheit per decade during the last 30 years. Average temperatures across the Earth have risen about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 130 years.

Not much, you say, but listen to Martin.

"The melting at the Equator is happening faster than anywhere else," he said. Martin showed peaks of the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, where Andean summits reach 22,000 feet. Glaciers are pulling back faster than slopes can re-vegetate. In 1983, this writer witnessed huge blocks of glacial ice ringing the summit crater of Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain.

"Gone! All there were were remnants," Martin reported from a recent climb.

Global warming deniers have seized upon a recent, inaccurate prediction that Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2050.

Not so! Still, in Martin's words, "What's happening in the Himalayas is astonishing. The glaciers are not just receding, but thinning at an astounding rate."

The slide presentation was stunning, but unsettling. Martin visited a fjord in western Greenland that for 25 miles is choked with ice. The glacier at the head of the fjord is, however, retreating and will soon be on dry land. Large melt-fed lakes appear on the surface of 3,000-foot thick glaciers, and then drain in hours through crevasses.
Skeptics have made much of gossipy e-mail messages, hacked last fall from computers at the University of East Anglia in England. They've claimed that scientists were manipulating data and plotting to discredit those who disagree.

But Martin showed scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic and the University of Washington taking measurements in Greenland.

In our own back yard, the U.S. Geological Survey has spent a half-century monitoring the South Cascade Glacier. The North Cascades Institute conducts studies each summer on Mt. Baker's Easton Glacier. Its photographic history goes back for more than a century.

It's difficult to manipulate what you can see with your eyes and through a lens.
Martin went over a lot of ice-covered ground familiar to this scribe. I first saw great tongues of the Columbia Icefield -- the Athabasca Glacier off the highway, and the larger Saskatchewan Glacier from the Parker Ridge trail -- a half-century ago. They were slowly retreating then, shrinking rapidly now.

Our family hiked up from Many Glacier and walked the Grinnell Glacier in Montana's Glacier National Park. Nowadays, there is a lake where there was ice, and all that hangs on is, in Martin's words, "just a tiny pocket glacier."

So what? Well, lets move south to the Wind River of Wyoming. I was there in 2008, listening to a group of oil field workers claim that global warming is "a gigantic hoax."
The Wind River gets its flow from glaciers in north-facing cirques of 13,000-foot peaks in the namesake Wind River Range. If -- when -- the glaciers melt, there will be no summer flow for irrigation or fish.

The Copenhagen climate summit, in Martin's words, was "like fighting fire with a squirt gun." It produced no binding agreement, just a goal of trying to keep the rise in average global temperatures to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We just have to keep making a stink," Martin concluded Thursday night.

He did an interview with CBS News from Copenhagen, has since been getting angry e-mails from the deniers, and quietly observed: "I wish they could spell better."


02-04-2010, 09:03 PM
Scant Arctic ice could mean summer "double whammy"

4:02pm EST
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scant ice over the Arctic Sea this winter could mean a "double whammy" of powerful ice-melt next summer, a top U.S. climate scientist said on Thursday.

"It's not that the ice keeps melting, it's just not growing very fast," said Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.

In January, Arctic sea ice grew by about 13,000 square miles (34,000 sq km) a day, which is a bit more than one-third the pace of ice growth during the 1980s, and less than the average for the first decade of the 21st century.

Arctic ice cover is important to the rest of the world because the Arctic is the globe's biggest weather-maker, sometimes dubbed Earth's air-conditioner for its ability to cool down the planet.

More melting Arctic sea ice could affect this weather-making process; it is unlikely to lead to rising sea levels, any more than an ice cube melting in a glass of water would make the glass overflow.

If Arctic ice fails to build up sufficiently during the dark, cold winter months, it is likely to melt faster and earlier when spring comes, Serreze said by telephone from Colorado.

"We've grown back ice in the winter, but that ice tends to be thin and that's the problem," he said. "You set yourself up for a world of hurt in summer. The ice that is there is also thinner than it was before and thinner ice simply takes less energy to melt out the next summer."

With less of the Arctic sea covered in ice in winter, and with the existing ice thinner and more fragile than before, "you've got a double whammy going on," Serreze said.

This more perishable thin ice is prone to early melting, and when it does, the heat-reflecting light-colored sea ice is replaced by heat-absorbing dark-colored ocean water, which accelerates spring and summer melting in the Arctic.

This winter, there were unusually warm December temperatures in the Arctic due to a weather pattern known as the Arctic oscillation, so ice grew more slowly than normal.
In January, that pattern shifted to produce cooler Arctic temperatures. The ice extent -- the area the ice covers -- was below normal over much of the Atlantic sector, including the Barents Sea, part of the East Greenland Sea and in the Davis Strait.

There was above-average ice extent on the Pacific side of the Bering Sea, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.

The last three years -- 2007, 2008 and 2009 -- had the lowest level of ice extent since satellite records began in 1979.


02-14-2010, 04:05 PM
Greenland ice loss driven by warming seas: study
(AFP) – 14 hours ago
PARIS — Greenland's continent-sized icesheet is being significantly eroded by winds and currents that drive warmer water into fjords, where it carves out the base of coastal glaciers, according to studies released Sunday.

The icy mass sitting atop Greenland holds enough water to boost global sea levels by seven metres (23 feet), potentially drowning low-lying coastal cities and deltas around the world.

At present, the ocean watermark is rising at around three millimetres (0.12 inches) per year, a figure that compares with 1.8mm (0.07 inches) annually in the early 1960s.

But Greenland's contribution has more than doubled in the past decade, and scientists suspect climate change is largely to blame, although exactly how this is occurring is fiercely debated.

Some theories point to air temperatures, which are rising faster in far northern latitudes than the global average.

A rival idea is that shifting currents and subtropical ocean waters moving north are eroding the foundation of coastal glaciers, accelerating their slide into the sea, especially those inside Greenland's many fjords.

Until now, however, these studies have been mainly based on mathematical models rather than observation.

A team of scientists led by Fiammetta Straneo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts set out to help fill that data void.

Working off of a ship in July and September 2008, the researchers took detailed measurements of the water properties in the Sermilik Fjord connecting Helheim Glacier in eastern Greenland with the ocean.

They found deep water streaming into the fjord was 3.0-4.0 degrees Celsius (37.4-39.2 degrees Fahrenheit), warm enough to cut into the base of the glaciers and hasten their plunge into the sea.

Moored instruments left in the fjord for eight months showed that winds aligned with the coastline played a crucial role in the influx of these warmer waters.

"Our findings support increased submarine melting as a trigger for the glacier acceleration, but indicated a combination of atmospheric and oceanic changes as the likely driver," the researchers say.

In a separate field study, Eric Rignot of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and colleagues tried to calculate the relative share of the causes of glacier loss.

Investigating the western side of Greenland, they took ocean measurements in August 2008 in three fjords at the base of four glaciers breaking off into the sea, a process known as calving.

Ocean melting, they found, accounted for between 20 and 75 percent of ice loss from the glacier face, with calving from the part of the iceberg exposed to air accounting for the rest.

Meanwhile, a study also published in the journal Nature Geoscience warned that oceans could become more acidic faster than at any time over the last 65 million years.

Andy Ridgwell and Daniella Schmidt of the University of Bristol, western England compared past and future changes in ocean acidity using computer simulations.
They found that the surface of the ocean is set to acidify even faster than it did during a well-documented episode of greenhouse warming 55.5 million years ago.

Accelerating acidification has already begun to take a toll on numerous marine animals that play a vital role in ocean food chain and help draw off huge quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere.

The calcium carapace of microscopic animals called foraminifera living in the Southern Ocean, for example, have fallen in weight by a third.


02-15-2010, 02:33 AM
any maps comparing ice covers ?

02-15-2010, 12:10 PM
any maps comparing ice covers ?
There are several in this thread, but below is the potential affect.

"What If All the Ice Melts?" Myths and Realities
by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 29 December 2005
(See Comments on global warming for a general discussion of the science of global warming.)

"If we keep using cars, the ice caps will melt and we'll all drown!" This is a myth, just as false as fearing the Sun will die as a result of using solar power. However, as often as I hear it--particularly from people who should know better--I thought I would address it here. First, here is a summary of the facts:

Despite what you may have been told, it has NOT been proven that human-caused global warming is occurring, and in fact there is substantial reason to reject such claims.

The best explanation for the evidence is that whatever global warming trend exists is mostly the result of natural influences like variations in the climate system and variations in solar radiation.

The suggestions that human activities will cause significant changes in global temperature and sea level in the next century are flawed predictions which haven't been confirmed by observations.

The solutions to this apparently non-existent problem proposed by environmentalists would not have a significant effect on climate, but they would cause a significant amount of human suffering.

Based on what we know now, in the next 100 years a rise in sea level of 0.1 meters (4 inches) would not be surprising; those predicting changes of 0.5-2 meters (1.5-7 feet) are using flawed models.

If all the icecaps in the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 60-75 meters (200-250 feet). This could not result from modern human activities, and from any realistic cause would take thousands of years to occur.

I have discussed the first four points (which are non-trivial and deserve extended discussion) in Global warming, Some scientific data on global climate change, and "Facts disprove warnings about global warming", and the fifth point in Facts and figures on sea level rise. I will mostly address the last point--not just to dispel the notion that we need worry, but also because it is a valid and interesting thing to be curious about.

I. The world's ice
Currently the Earth has permanent ice in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland, plus much smaller permanent glaciers in various mountain regions of the world. This ice is "permanent", however, only over the short timespan of modern human civilization. Additionally there are two large ice sheets floating in seas off Antarctica, plus floating pack ice in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding Antarctica. Geological evidence indicates very clearly that at times in the Earth's past icecaps were much larger in extent--and alternately, at other times icecaps were virtually nonexistent.
Currently there are about 30,000,000 cubic kilometers of ice in the world's icecaps and glaciers. This volume of ice is fairly well measured (within 5-15%) by surveying the top of the icecaps with methods like radar and laser altimetry, locating the bottom of the ice with methods like seismic soundings, and calculating the difference. A breakdown is as follows:

Notes to table: These values are approximate; sources are given, which have in some cases been indirectly used to estimate volumes; errors in interpretation should be assigned to me, not to the original sources.
* Continental glaciers and ice fields--outside Greenland and Antarctica.

** Changes in volume are very uncertain; these values may be taken as illustrative. In most cases these are measurements over a limited time range extrapolated to the total change in volume from 1960 to 2005. Some values are based on models, not directly on measurements.

Grounded ice is ice resting on the ground rather than floating. The melting of floating ice will not change sea level: the mass of this ice is equal to that of the water it displaces (watch the water level in a cup of floating ice cubes as they melt). For comparison, globally ice (both grounded and floating) represents about 2% of the world's water, with about 1,350,000,000 km3 of water in the oceans.

During the last Ice Age the maximum extent of glaciation was around 16,000 B.C. At that time large ice sheets covered all of Canada, much of the American midwest and northeast, all of Scandinavia and some surrounding regions of Eurasia. The total volume of ice then was perhaps 80,000,000 cubic kilometers, or between two and three times as much as today. Correspondingly, world sea level was about 120 meters lower [6,30].

II. Why melting is not a threat
While today's balance between the icecaps and global sea level has been relatively steady since about 1000 B.C., it would be careless to assume that this is the Earth's natural state and that it should always be this way. What could happen to climate naturally in the next few thousand years? If the Earth continued to warm and break from ice age conditions, some of the remaining ice caps could melt. On the other hand, climate might swing back into another ice age. (In fact, some of the environmentalists now worried about global warming were worried about another ice age in the 1960s and 1970s.)

In either case, such a change in climate would take thousands of years to accomplish. Note that it has taken 18,000 years to melt 60% of the ice from the last ice age. The remaining ice is almost entirely at the north and south poles and is isolated from warmer weather. To melt the ice of Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years under any realistic change in climate. In the case of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which accounts for 80% of the Earth's current ice, Sudgen argues that it existed for 14,000,000 years, through wide ranges in global climate. The IPCC 2001 report states "Thresholds for disintegration of the East Antarctic ice sheet by surface melting involve warmings above 20° C... In that case, the ice sheet would decay over a period of at least 10,000 years." [31] The IPCC is the United Nations' scientific committee on climate change; its members tend to be the minority that predicts global warming and its statements tend to be exaggerated by administrators before release. Given that the IPCC tends to exaggerate the potential for sea level rise, it is clear that no scientists on either side of the scientific debate on global warming fear the melting of the bulk of Antarctica's ice. Consider also this abstract of an article by Jacobs contrasting scientific and popular understanding:

A common public perception is that global warming will accelerate the melting of polar ice sheets, causing sea level to rise. A common scientific position is that the volume of grounded Antarctic ice is slowly growing, and will damp future sea-level rise. At present, studies supporting recent shrinkage or growth depend on limited measurements that are subject to high temporal and regional variability, and it is too early to say how the Antarctic ice sheet will behave in a warmer world. [32]

This statement alludes to the significant point that the Antarctic ice cap appears to currently be growing rather than shrinking. In fact, were the climate to warm significantly in the next few centuries (not a certain future, but supposing it happened), current models suggest that Antarctica would gain ice, with increased snowfall more than offsetting increased melting.

How much concern should we have about the 20% of world ice outside the East Antarctic Ice Sheet? Some sources have recently discussed the "possible collapse" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). It is suggested that this sheet (about 10% of Antarctic ice) could melt in the "near term" (a usefully vague phrase) and raise sea level 5 to 6 meters. Current understanding is that the WAIS has been melting for the last 10,000 years, and that its current behavior is a function of past, not current climate. [23] The abstract of an article by Alley and Whillans addresses this:

The portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet that flows into the Ross Sea is thinning in some places and thickening in others. These changes are not caused by any current climatic change, but by the combination of a delayed response to the end of the last global glacial cycle and an internal instability. The near-future impact of the ice sheet on global sea level is largely due to processes internal to the movement of the ice sheet, and not so much to the threat of a possible greenhouse warming. Thus the near-term future of the ice sheet is already determined. However, too little of the ice sheet has been surveyed to predict its overall future behavior. [34]

Similarly, recent stories have periodically appeared concerning the potential receding of the Greenland ice cap. Two points may be made regarding current understanding here. First, there is considerable disagreement as to the current rate of net ice cap loss--or even if there is net loss versus net gain. Second, even with temperature increases far greater than the dubious predictions of the IPCC, models indicate that Greenland's ice cap would take 2,000 to 10,000 years to disappear.
Some discussion of the concerns about near term sea level rise may be found in Facts and figures on sea level rise. The predictions that have been made for ice cap melting in the next century rely mostly on melting of glaciers in mountain regions, not melting of the polar ice caps. Even the pessimistic models cited by the IPCC tend to predict an increase in the volume of the Antarctic ice cap with warmer temperatures due to increased snowfalls. In general temperature changes of a few degrees do not seem to be sufficient to begin to melt the polar ice caps, particularly the Antarctic ice cap.

III. Imagining the world without ice caps
As long as we understand that the polar ice caps are not going to melt in the foreseeable future, we can proceed to imagine what the world would be like if they did melt.

Using the ice volume figures from above it is straightforward to estimate the effect on sea level were all this ice melted. Melting the 29,300,000 km3 of grounded ice would produce 26,100,000 km3 of water. Note that melting of floating ice has no effect on sea level. Also, about 2,100,000 km3 of the grounded ice in Antarctica is below sea level [19] and would be replaced by water. Thus, the net addition to the world's oceans would be about 24,000,000 km3 of water spread over the 361,000,000 km2 area of the world's oceans, giving a depth of 67 meters. The new ocean area would be slightly larger, of course, since some areas now land would be covered with water. The final result would be around 66 meters (current estimates range between 63 and 75 meters).

What would the Earth look like as a result? If sea level were 66 meters higher than today, the result would be as illustrated below (for the map I used below see this page):
Obviously some areas are affected more than others. Some larger areas now underwater are the southeastern United States, part of the Amazon River basin, northern Europe, Bangladesh, parts of Siberia along the Arctic Ocean, and portions of mainland China. A large area in Australia would be below sea level, but it is not joined to the ocean and could remain dry.

Both Greenland and Antarctica, free of ice, have areas that would be below sea level. However, with the weight of this ice removed, Greenland and Antarctica would rise higher--this phenomena is called isostatic rebound. This rebound lags behind the removal of the ice (by thousands of years). Eventually, most of Greenland would probably be above sea level. However, significant portions of Antarctica would remain underwater. This is shown below in a view of the southern hemisphere:

Today the Earth has 148 million sq. km of land area, of which 16 million sq. km is covered by glaciers. A sea level rise of 66 meters would flood about 13 million sq. km of land outside Antarctica. Without polar ice, Antarctica and Greenland would be ice free, although about half of Antarctica would be under water. Thus, ice-free land would be 128 million sq. km compared to 132 million sq. km today.

As a result, in terms of total habitable land area, the Earth might have more than today. The coastal areas reclaimed by the sea would be mostly offset by now habitable areas of Greenland and Antarctica. Again, remember that such climate change would take thousands of years. Over such time scales vegetation would be restored to newly ice-free regions even without human activity. Also, vast areas which are now desert and tundra would become more fit for human habitation and agriculture.
The illustrations above do not depict any changes in vegetation. In reality, local climates would be very different in ways that are currently difficult to predict. It might be that the warmer climate would lead to generally greater precipitation (this is suggested by comparison to the last ice age, when cooler temperatures caused expansion of the Sahara). Unfortunately, current models are not reliable enough to give a confident answer.

So why wouldn't people drown? Again, a change in the Earth this dramatic would take thousands of years to effect from any realistic cause. Over generations people would migrate as the coasts changed. Consider that virtually all of the settlements in the United States were established only in last 350 years. Of course, many settlements inhabited for thousands of years would have to be abandoned to the ocean--just as many would have to be abandoned if ice age conditions returned and covered vast areas with ice sheets. But people can comfortably adjust where they live over periods of decades, far shorter than the thousands of years needed for these climate changes to naturally take place. Also, that's if they occur, and we have no evidence to indicate what would happen to climate over the next few thousand years.

IV. A final comment
For those curious as to what the Earth would be like with the ice caps melted, this report has hopefully given an illustration, along with some perspective: this sort of change cannot be affected by modern human activity even given many centuries. It is sad that some youngsters think that burning of hydrocarbons could cause the ice caps to melt and drown cities; it is criminal when teachers don't correct this nonsense. And it should tell you much of environmental groups like the Sierra Club when they use such myths to further an extremist political agenda.

03-04-2010, 08:23 PM
Scientists say 'ice arches' a concern in northeastern Canada
By Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service
March 1, 2010

A team of international scientists is sounding alarms about the state of a natural ice dam in northeastern Canada - the Nares Strait 'ice arches' - that have historically prevented older, thicker Arctic Ocean sea ice from drifting south through a narrow passage along the Ellesmere Island coast and melting in warmer waters.

A team of international scientists is sounding alarms about the state of a natural ice dam in northeastern Canada that has historically prevented older, thicker Arctic Ocean sea ice from drifting south through a narrow passage along Ellesmere Island and melting in warmer waters.

A study by U.S. and Danish researchers — including NASA's leading experts on the polar ice cap — describes how the Nares Strait "ice arches" failed to form during the winter of 2007 in the 35-kilometre gap between Ellesmere and the northwest coast of Greenland.

Sea ice typically consolidates in distinctive, curved structures at the north end of the strait — not far from Hans Island, the subject of a decades-old territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark.

But when the blockage failed to materialize as usual in 2007 — the same year a record-setting Arctic thaw first raised global concern about polar warming — the central Arctic Ocean discharged double the average annual amount of sea ice through Nares Strait, the researchers found.

"We don't completely understand the conditions conducive to the formation of these arches," said NASA ice expert Ron Kwok, lead author of the study published in the latest issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "We do know that they are temperature-dependent because they only form in winter. So there's concern that if climate warms, the arches could stop forming."

While most central Arctic sea ice exits through the 400-km-wide Fram Strait between Greenland and the Svalbard Islands, the researchers found that ice flushing through Nares Strait in 2007 — according to a 13-year satellite record of polar ice cover — amounted to a record 10 per cent of the total loss.

"Until recently, we didn't think the small straits were important for ice loss," Kwok said in a summary of the team's research. "If indeed these arches are less likely to form in the future, we have to account for the annual ice loss through this narrow passage. Potentially, this could lead to an even more rapid decline in the summer ice extent of the Arctic Ocean."

The Canadian Ice Service recorded the 2007 absence of the ice arches and has also observed "quite unusual" ice movement each year since along the strait.

"One of our most important goals is developing predictive models of Arctic sea ice cover," said NASA researcher Tom Wagner. "Such models are important not only to understanding changes in the Arctic, but also changes in global and North American climate. Figuring out how ice is lost through the Fram and Nares straits is critical to developing those models."


03-07-2010, 05:03 PM
Underpinning of Greenland Ice sheet beginning to fail!

March 2, 2010 A team of international scientists is sounding alarms about the state of a natural ice dam in northeastern Canada that has historically prevented older, thicker Arctic Ocean sea ice from drifting south through a narrow passage along Ellesmere Island and melting in warmer waters.

A study by U.S. and Danish researchers, including NASA's leading experts on the polar ice cap, describes how the Nares Strait "ice arches" failed to form during the winter of 2007 in the 35-kilometre gap between Ellesmere and Greenland.....


Ought Six
03-08-2010, 12:46 AM
The coast of Greenland was ice-free fertile farming land a century ago. There was no disaster as a result. The idea that melting in Greenland must result in disaster is thus proven to be utter crap.

03-08-2010, 01:26 PM
The coast of Greenland was ice-free fertile farming land a century ago. There was no disaster as a result. The idea that melting in Greenland must result in disaster is thus proven to be utter crap.
Seems like only yesterday - doesn't it?

ScienceDaily (July 5, 2007) — Ancient Greenland was green. New Danish research has shown that it was covered in conifer forest and, like southern Sweden today, had a relatively mild climate. Eske Willerslev, a professor at Copenhagen University, has analysed the world's oldest DNA, preserved under the kilometre-thick icecap. The DNA is likely close to half a million years old, and the research is painting a picture which is overturning all previous assumptions about biological life and the climate in Greenland....

...In the base layer sample from the GRIP drilling, from the middle of the Greenlandic ice sheet, there were no DNA remains at all- not from plants, mammals or insects. "The explanation," he says, "is that the ice in the middle of the ice sheet is very thick- over three kilometres, and the greater pressure produces a higher temperature at the base, and so the DNA material, which cannot tolerate warmth, disintegrates".
Ancient Flora and Fauna

At the DYE-3 drilling-site, the ice is 'only' two kilometres thick, and here the DNA-material was so well preserved that Eske Willerslev could extract genetic traces of a long list of plants and insects and thereby reconstruct ancient plant and animal life.

03-17-2010, 08:53 PM
http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:hvJlPw0uLGLDgM:http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_L5PLtAoOfhU/ScoqxXuDZSI/AAAAAAAACMo/bzs0PbyyiBk/s400/celestialarse%2Bcopy.jpg (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_L5PLtAoOfhU/ScoqxXuDZSI/AAAAAAAACMo/bzs0PbyyiBk/s400/celestialarse%2Bcopy.jpg&imgrefurl=http://bpperry3.blogspot.com/2009/03/scientist-theorises-giant-arse-at.html&usg=__gEtI1MY-NNcA493ljy4cMFLwAJA=&h=400&w=400&sz=40&hl=en&start=63&itbs=1&tbnid=hvJlPw0uLGLDgM:&tbnh=124&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dgiant%2Bfart%26start%3D54%26hl%3Den%2 6sa%3DN%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D18%26tbs%3Disch:1)
Scientists from the University of Bristol in England believe that microbes living under ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland could be emitting large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane. "It could mean that as ice sheets melt under warmer temperatures, they would release large amounts of heat-trapping methane gas (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/03/antarctic-methane-lakes/)." Oh no! Not the dreaded giant Antarcti-fart!

03-24-2010, 11:37 PM
Enough ice water to fill the Gulf of Mexico

The Greenland ice sheet is a vast reservoir, two miles deep in places, containing enough water to fill the Gulf of Mexico -- and to raise sea level 21 feet if it were all to melt.
http://blogs.discovery.com/.a/6a00d8341bf67c53ef0120a970a447970b-800wi (http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid21354177001?bctid=72909510001)
The new analysis, by an international team led by Shfaqat Abbas Khan of the National Space Institute of Denmark, is published this week in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL042460.shtml). The image, courtesy of AGU, shows the averaged rate of mass loss, measured in centimeters of ice thickness, between February 2003 and June 2009.
(Click on *THIS* (http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid21354177001?bctid=72909510001) and watch a video, courtesy of the University of Colorado-Boulder, that shows the evolution of the melting pattern since January 2003.)

The researchers compared two sets of data -- measurements of "crustal uplift" along the coast detected at three long-term GPS sites on coastal bedrock, and direct measurements from the orbiting twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/gallery/animations/) (GRACE) satellites that detect subtle changes in Earth's gravity field caused by regional changes in the planet's mass.

"When we look at the monthly values from GRACE, the ice mass loss has been very dramatic along the northwest coast of Greenland," said co-author John Wahr, a physicist at University of Colorado-Boulder. "This is a phenomenon that was undocumented before this study. Our speculation is that some of the big glaciers in this region are sliding downhill faster and dumping more ice in the ocean."


03-30-2010, 01:25 PM
Anyone keeping score on ice volume lost from Greenland?
When it gets to 97,000 cubic miles of ice loss sea level will be up 3 feet and 3 inches.

03-30-2010, 02:57 PM
how much water is held globally in man made reservoirs, lakes and dams ? I suspect not minute ..

03-31-2010, 02:46 AM
Have a look at this page:


Freshwater represents only about three percent of all water on Earth and freshwater lakes and swamps account for a mere 0.29 percent of the Earth's freshwater. Twenty percent of all fresh surface water is in one lake, Lake Baikal in Asia. Another twenty percent (about 5,500 cubic miles (about 23,000 cubic kilometers)) is stored in the Great Lakes.

04-10-2010, 03:50 PM
Have a look at this page:

This is from link above.
But look at what happens when a relatively small amount of fresh water moves into the ocean..

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Scientists say they have found the trigger of a sharp cooling 13,000 years ago that plunged Europe into a mini ice age.

Mark Bateman from the University of Sheffield in England said a catastrophic flood unleashed from a giant North American lake dumped large amounts of freshwater into the Arctic Ocean.

This led to the shutting down of the Gulf Stream ocean circulation pattern that brings warmth to Europe.

"We're talking about a lake the size of the UK emptying very quickly," Bateman told Reuters by telephone. "We don't know the exact period of time but we're talking about a catastrophic flood."....

05-22-2010, 03:17 PM
Glacial rebound will likey increase volcanic activity, possibly causing Katla to explode (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/21/katla-volcano-threat-of-n_n_545784.html).
However, perhaps the most pronounced and most concerning ice loss is occurring in Greenland. According to a new study by the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), there's new evidence that Greenland's melt is accelerating.
Greenland's 2 km thick ice cap pushes down on the land, depressing it. As the ice has melted, the land, like a gigantic spring has slowly pushed upwards. Currently, parts of Greenland are rising at a rate of 1 inch per year, and may reach a rate of 2 inches per year by 2025 if current acceleration continues.

Ought Six
05-23-2010, 10:24 PM
I wonder if the Danish will declare the southern end of Greenland a big park, or just start building condos? :D

05-24-2010, 07:34 AM
Glacial rebound will likey increase volcanic activity, possibly causing Katla to explode (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/21/katla-volcano-threat-of-n_n_545784.html).
How will glacial rebound in Greenland cause Katla (in Iceland) to explode? Where does it say that in the article you linked to?


05-24-2010, 10:40 PM
How will glacial rebound in Greenland cause Katla (in Iceland) to explode? Where does it say that in the article you linked to?

We have discussed the phenomonon of glacial rebound many times in this forum (and especially in CE), I recommend you read a few articles on the subject.

05-25-2010, 07:29 AM
Any way you look at it, Iceland resembles a black powder keg, and it is only a matter of time before the volcanoes there are active again. We don't live on a dead planet. It is constantly changing and causing destruction. Most of the destruction we can't influence in any way at all, but only try to prepare for it, and learn from past mistakes.

Ought Six
05-25-2010, 02:53 PM
Ice retreat in Iceland may trigger volcanoes in Iceland.


There is no evidence that I am aware of that ice retreat in Greenland could effect volcanoes in Iceland in any way. And as sh pointed out, there is nothing in any material posted by c that claims that it does.

05-25-2010, 02:53 PM
We don't live on a dead planet. It is constantly changing and causing destruction. Most of the destruction we can't influence in any way at all, but only try to prepare for it, and learn from past mistakes.Well said Mousehound. That is such a simple concept that either completely escapes some people, or they choose to ignore it to further or reinforce their agendas.

05-25-2010, 09:20 PM
How will glacial rebound in Greenland cause Katla (in Iceland) to explode? Where does it say that in the article you linked to?


Alan Weisman, is a Professor at the University of Arizona, and a regular writer in mainstream Green journals such as Resurgence, Mother Jones, Audubon, etc. He is also the author of the best-selling book "The World Without Us"
Today he has a guest column for CNN in which he says:
" something else is lately worrying geologists: the likelihood that the Earth's crust, relieved of so much formidable weight of ice borne for many thousands of years, has begun to stretch and rebound.
As it does, a volcano awakens in Iceland (with another, larger and adjacent to still-erupting Eyjafjallajokull, threatening to detonate next). The Earth shudders in Haiti. Then Chile. Then western China. Mexicali-Calexico. The Solomon Islands. Spain. New Guinea. And those are just the big ones, 6+ on the Richter scale, and just in 2010. And it's only April.

also see reference below:

Ought Six
05-26-2010, 08:42 PM
There is nothing whatsoever in the quote above that says that crustal rebound in Greenland caused the Iceland volcanoes to erupt. As I already said, crustal rebound in Iceland is being blamed for volcanic activity in Iceland. Your claim is still purely unsubstantiated BS. :re:

05-26-2010, 09:02 PM
There is nothing whatsoever in the quote above that says that crustal rebound in Greenland caused the Iceland volcanoes to erupt. As I already said, crustal rebound in Iceland is being blamed for volcanic activity in Iceland. Your claim is still purely unsubstantiated BS. :re:
You are wrong. Also, the PDF file below is searchable....refer to it.

You are thinking too small (geologically speaking).


05-26-2010, 09:25 PM
Cao - I see nothing in there about Greenland. Yes, Iceland is near the Greenland-Færöy ridge, but despite the name that feature has nothing to do with Greenland. It is under ocean, and a fair distance away from Greenland.

05-26-2010, 09:33 PM
Cao - I see nothing in there about Greenland. Yes, Iceland is near the Greenland-Færöy ridge, but despite the name that feature has nothing to do with Greenland. It is under ocean, and a fair distance away from Greenland.
As I said, thinking too small geologically speaking. Don't focus so much on the word "Greenland". Search for glacial rebound a read what it says. It effects vast regions. But there is no doubt that the glacial rebound of Greenland will have a very profound effect on the planet.

Ought Six
05-27-2010, 02:40 AM
It effects vast regions when vast regions covered with ice melt, but only the 'vast regions' that were actually covered by those vast ice sheets. Iceland's rebound is from its own ice melting. You still are making stuff up and trying to sell it is 'fact'. :re:

05-27-2010, 09:51 PM
It effects vast regions when vast regions covered with ice melt, but only the 'vast regions' that were actually covered by those vast ice sheets. Iceland's rebound is from its own ice melting. You still are making stuff up and trying to sell it is 'fact'. :re:
Greenland (having a much greater mass of ice) will have a much greater impact. You would understand that if you would read the reference.

Ought Six
05-28-2010, 04:20 PM
I read the entire thing. There is virtually nothing in there to support your claims.

05-28-2010, 07:38 PM
Cao - the rebound they are talking about has been going on for thousands of years (since the last Ice Age), and has absolutely nothing to do with the current accelerated melting in Greenland. The only link is that Iceland and Greenland were both covered by the ice sheet in the last Ice Age, as were N. America and Europe for that matter.

05-28-2010, 09:19 PM
I read the entire thing. There is virtually nothing in there to support your claims.
OK maybe you won't understand. In any case I might start a new thread in the SC on glacial rebound as a pubic service.

Ought Six
05-28-2010, 09:22 PM

It is pointless. He is lost in his own little doomworld where the words on the monitor whisper strange new meanings to him that no one else can hear.

05-28-2010, 10:45 PM

It is pointless. He is lost in his own little doomworld where the words on the monitor whisper strange new meanings to him that no one else can hear.

Some people just don't want to learn:rolleyes:

Post-glacial rebound (or Glacial Isostatic Adjustment) produce measurable effects on: (i) Vertical Crustal Motion, (ii) Global sea levels, (iii) Horizontal Crustal Motion, (iv) Gravity field, (v) Earth's rotational motion and (vi) State of stress and earthquakes. Studies of Glacial rebound give us information about the flow law of mantle rocks and also past ice sheet history. The former is important to the study of Mantle Convection, Plate Tectonics and the thermal evolution of the Earth. The latter is important to the study of Glaciology, Paleoclimate and changes in Global Sea Level. Understanding postglacial rebound is also important to our ability to monitor recent global change.

♫♪♪♫♫♪ He's a man...with the plan... got the $64 in his hand. Heee's mista Noooo-it-all! ♫♪♪♫♫♪

Ought Six
05-28-2010, 10:58 PM
Still clueless. It is funny that you are the sole person here who can 'see' what you claim is there in the text. Ever wonder about that?

05-29-2010, 12:16 PM
Still clueless. It is funny that you are the sole person here who can 'see' what you claim is there in the text. Ever wonder about that?
Not the sole person. You are just using the fact that the new posting rules prevent me from copy the full articles in which the truth would be fully comprehended if read in its entirety. Yes... these new posting rules fit well with those who seek to make quips to sound-bites. :re:

Glacial earthquakes are a new class of seismic events, first discovered as signals in long-period seismograms recorded on the Global Seismographic Network. Most of these events occur along the coasts of Greenland, where they are spatially related to large outlet glaciers. Glacial earthquakes show a strong seasonality, with most events occurring during the late summer. The rate of glacial-earthquake occurrence increased between 2000 and 2005, with a stabilization of earthquake frequency at 2003–2004 levels in 2006–2008. Recent observations establish a strong temporal correlation between the distinct seismic signals of glacial earthquakes and large ice-loss events in which icebergs of cubic-kilometer scale collapse against the calving face, linking the seismogenic process to the force exerted by these icebergs on the glacier and the underlying solid earth. A sudden change in glacier speed results from these glacial-earthquake calving events. Seasonal and interannual variations in glacier-terminus position account for general characteristics of the temporal variation in earthquake occurrence. Glacial earthquakes in Antarctica are less well studied, but they exhibit several characteristics similar to glacial earthquakes in Greenland.

Ought Six
05-29-2010, 01:35 PM
You can keep posting all the irrelevant BS you want. There is nothing whatsoever in the article that says that crustal rebound in Greenland is causing increased volcanic activity in Iceland -- period. The article does not say so in part, in whole, in detail, or any other way. You are, as always, making up 'connections' that simply do not exist.

05-29-2010, 04:02 PM
Not irrelevant to people near Katla. Note how Iceland and Greenland uplift rates are so similar. This should be expected since they are located so close geographically.

What they find is crustal uplift in Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard is accelerating. Extrapolating the acceleration backwards in time finds the acceleration began after 1990. The acceleration of uplift over the past decade represents an essentially instantaneous, elastic response to recent accelerated melting of ice throughout the North Atlantic region.
Figure 1: GPS measurements for the North Atlantic region. The numbers (eg - 0.6 mm/yr2) show the amount of acceleration. The red (upper) time series (Greenland, Iceland) show positive acceleration and the blue (lower) time series (Fennoscandia, Canada) show no significant acceleration.

From the rates of uplift around Greenland, they estimate ice loss is accelerating at 21.2 gigatonnes/yr2. This agrees well with other estimates of ice loss accelerating at around 21 gigatonnes/yr2. The following shows estimates of the rate of Greenland ice loss measured from satellite altimetry, GRACE gravity data and net accumulation/loss measurements.

05-29-2010, 04:13 PM
the departure of two miles of ice is going to generate seismic instability of a greater distance than a news article about Greenland.

In a second article in Science, researchers say they have detected a rising frequency of earthquake-like rumblings in the bedrock beneath Greenland's two-mile-thick ice cap in late summer since 1993. They add that there is no obvious explanation other than abrupt movements of the overlying ice caused by surface melting.

Ought Six
05-29-2010, 08:45 PM
So now you are changing the subject, and falsifying the new article by trying to conflate it with the baseless assumption that the entire Greenland ice sheet is going to melt. Of course, warming has already flattened out, and it is no warmer now than it was at the peak of Medieval warming period. The entire Greenland ice sheet did not melt then, and it will not melt now. Your premise is again BS, as was your prior premise.

One other thing about your prior premise. You have been desperately trying to peddle the idea that crustal rebound in Greenland is causing increased vulcanism in Iceland. There is one small flaw in that premise. The Greenland ice sheet has not melted yet. It is still thousands of feet thick. There is no huge amount of crustal rebound in Greenland yet because the vast majority of the weight of the ice sheet is still there bearing down on the crust. That makes your claim false on its face.

05-30-2010, 12:14 PM
Dixon and his collaborators share their findings in a new study titled "Accelerating uplift in the North Atlantic region as an indicator of ice loss," The paper is now available as an advanced online publication, by Nature Geoscience. The idea behind the study is that if Greenland is losing its ice cover, the resulting loss of weight causes the rocky surface beneath to rise. The same process is affecting the islands of Iceland and Svalbard, which also have ice caps, explains Shimon Wdowinski, research associate professor in the University of Miami RSMAS, and co-author of the study.
http://beforeitsnews.com/news/46/014/Greenland_Elevation_Rising_at_Accelerated_Pace_as_ Ice_Melts,_Land_Rebounds_in_Height_As_Glacier_Weig ht_Falls.html

Ought Six
05-30-2010, 01:38 PM
Your premise is that crustal rebound in Greenland from the melting ice sheet is causing increased vulcanism in Iceland. There are a couple of problems with that.

The first problem is obvious. Accelerated melting and the associated crustal rebound has been going on for a very short time. According to the study cited in your article, it has only been going on for less than two decades, which is nothing in geological time. The ice sheet there is still thousands of feet thick and still largely intact. Conversely, melting has been going on in Iceland since the 'little ice age' ended 150 years ago, and the ice sheet there is entirely gone. All that remains is separate glaciers in the higher elevations. So Greenland has very little melting by comparison to Iceland.

The second problem with your theory is even more obvious. If rebound from the melting in Greenland were causing volcanoes to become active, it does not take a genius to realize that the place where the rebound is the worst is where there will be the most volcanic activity. Greenland has not experienced any volcanic activity because very little rebound has occurred there as of yet. On the other hand, Iceland has lost its entire ice sheet, and they are having increased volcanic activity, possibly due in part to the very large amount of crustal rebound there. The data entirely supports the idea that scientific research has put forward; that rebound in Iceland may be contributing to the volcanic activity there; and entirely refutes your theory. If the ice sheet melting continues in Greenland, several decades down the road it would not be surprising to see volcanic activity there for the same reasons we are seeing it in Iceland today.

05-30-2010, 03:55 PM
Your premise is that crustal rebound in Greenland from the melting ice sheet is causing increased vulcanism in Iceland. There are a couple of problems with that.

The first problem is obvious. Accelerated melting and the associated crustal rebound has been going on for a very short time. According to the study cited in your article, it has only been going on for less than two decades, which is nothing in geological time. The ice sheet there is still thousands of feet thick and still largely intact. Conversely, melting has been going on in Iceland since the 'little ice age' ended 150 years ago, and the ice sheet there is entirely gone. All that remains is separate glaciers in the higher elevations. So Greenland has very little melting by comparison to Iceland.

The second problem with your theory is even more obvious. If rebound from the melting in Greenland were causing volcanoes to become active, it does not take a genius to realize that the place where the rebound is the worst is where there will be the most volcanic activity. Greenland has not experienced any volcanic activity because very little rebound has occurred there as of yet. On the other hand, Iceland has lost its entire ice sheet, and they are having increased volcanic activity, possibly due in part to the very large amount of crustal rebound there. The data entirely supports the idea that scientific research has put forward; that rebound in Iceland may be contributing to the volcanic activity there; and entirely refutes your theory. If the ice sheet melting continues in Greenland, several decades down the road it would not be surprising to see volcanic activity there for the same reasons we are seeing it in Iceland today.
It is the claim of anyone who understands the subject.

Ought Six
05-30-2010, 05:32 PM
The picture you posted rather clearly shows that the Greenland ice sheet is not even coming close to bearing down upon the volcanic plume under Iceland. Thank you for so very clearly further illustrating my point and your own error.

And I notice that you did not post the source of that graphic. Would doing that reveal that you photoshopped in your own comments to the picture, falsifying the 'evidence'? From the use of language, it sounds just like something worded by you. So how about you post a link to the original source of that diagram, hmm? :mkay:

05-30-2010, 08:22 PM
The picture you posted rather clearly shows that the Greenland ice sheet is not even coming close to bearing down upon the volcanic plume under Iceland. Thank you for so very clearly further illustrating my point and your own error.

And I notice that you did not post the source of that graphic. Would doing that reveal that you photoshopped in your own comments to the picture, falsifying the 'evidence'? From the use of language, it sounds just like something worded by you. So how about you post a link to the original source of that diagram, hmm? :mkay:
also see:

Ought Six
05-30-2010, 08:27 PM
But that is not the image you posted with the text in it, now is it? Just as I thought you would, you responded with a weak attempt at misdirection. Nice try. Give us a link to the actual page where the complete image appears, with the text. :mkay:

Or does such a page even exist?

05-30-2010, 08:33 PM
But that is not the image you posted with the text in it, now is it? Just as I thought you would, you responded with a weak attempt at misdirection. Nice try. Give us a link to the actual page where the complete image appears, with the text. :mkay:

Or does such a page even exist?
:lol: What the Hell are you talkng about? You wouldn't happen to be refering to the Google Map Satellite View would you? I was just attempting to show you where Iceland was.

Ought Six
05-30-2010, 09:29 PM
Of course. You did not ever intend those comments photoshopped in there to ever be taken as original content, and evidence supporting your claim.

06-01-2010, 03:23 PM
Locked until further notice.