Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Greenland ice cap news

with 15 comments

It looks as though the Greenland ice cap may be falling apart faster than predicted. The bad news is that if the whole ice cap melts, sea levels will rise around 6 feet—very bad news indeed for the state of Florida and all coastal cities. Here’s the report (with satellite images at the link):

Researchers monitoring daily satellite images here of Greenland’s glaciers have discovered break-ups at two of the largest glaciers in the last month. They expect that part of the Northern hemisphere’s longest floating glacier will continue to disintegrate within the next year.

A massive 11-square-mile (29-square-kilometer) piece of the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland broke away between July 10th and by July 24th. The loss to that glacier is equal to half the size of Manhattan Island. The last major ice loss to Petermann occurred when the glacier lost 33 square miles (86 square kilometers) of floating ice between 2000 and 2001.

Petermann has a floating section of ice 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide and 50 miles (80.4 kilometers) long which covers 500 square miles (1,295 square kilometers).

What worries Jason Box, an associate professor of geography at Ohio State, and his colleagues, graduate students Russell Benson and David Decker, all with the Byrd Polar Research Center, even more about the latest images is what appears to be a massive crack further back from the margin of the Petermann Glacier.

That crack may signal an imminent and much larger breakup.

“If the Petermann glacier breaks up back to the upstream rift, the loss would be as much as 60 square miles (160 square kilometers),” Box said, representing a loss of one-third of the massive ice field.

Meanwhile, the margin of the massive Jakobshavn glacier has retreated inland further than it has at any time in the past 150 years it has been observed. Researchers believe that the glacier has not retreated to where it is now in at least the last 4,000 to 6,000 years.

The Northern branch of the Jakobshavn broke up in the past several weeks and the glacier has lost at least three square miles (10 square kilometers) since the end of the last melt season.

The Jakobshavn Glacier dominates the approximately 130 glaciers flowing out of Greenland’s inland into the sea. It alone is responsible for producing at least one-tenth of the icebergs calving off into the sea from the entire island of Greenland, making it the island’s most productive glacier.

Between 2001 and 2005, a massive breakup of the Jakobshavn glacier erased 36 square miles (94 square kilometers) from the ice field and raised the awareness of worldwide of glacial response to global climate change.

The researchers are using images updated daily from National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellites and from time-lapse photography from cameras monitoring the margin of these and other Greenland glaciers. Additional support for this project came from NASA.

Source: Ohio State University

Written by Leisureguy

21 August 2008 at 7:41 am

Posted in Global warming, Science

15 Responses

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  1. Ice has been breaking off of Greenland for thousands of years. 11 square miles is a very small piece compared to the total ice. Don’t worry so much;)


    Jeff Id

    22 August 2008 at 7:10 pm

  2. Sounds as though you didn’t read the report. What is happening now is different than the usual calving of icebergs from Greenland. Let me draw your attention to this:

    Meanwhile, the margin of the massive Jakobshavn glacier has retreated inland further than it has at any time in the past 150 years it has been observed. Researchers believe that the glacier has not retreated to where it is now in at least the last 4,000 to 6,000 years.

    The Northern branch of the Jakobshavn broke up in the past several weeks and the glacier has lost at least three square miles (10 square kilometers) since the end of the last melt season.



    23 August 2008 at 7:37 am

  3. I’m sorry to reply so slowly. I did read the article but don’t agree with the conclusion.

    If you take into account the ice core temperature reconstructions based on the oxygen 18 isotope, you can see that we have just exited an ice age about 10-12k years ago. You can find the curves presented in nature on the web or at my blog — article :agw part #4 the history of temperature.

    The big surprise from this research should be that the glacier had receded that far only 4 to 6 kyears ago after the ice age but before the industrial revolution. Its a pretty good clue that temperatures are not as stable as some historical reconstructions would indicate — wouldn’t you say.

    Earth has been at this for a long time.


    Jeff Id

    24 August 2008 at 8:00 am

  4. I certainly agree that the Earth has had many fluctuations in temperature and some enormous impacts (e.g., the impact that ripped the Moon from the Earth). But our primary concern is what is happening now. If you will look at graphs of global temperatures over the past couple of hundred years and graphs of atmospheric CO2, I would think you would be concerned. A warming earth is not completely predictable, of course, and in time I suspect we’ll find out exactly what happens to us and our cities and civilization as the temperature climbs. The concern is not over the last ice age, but what faces us now and what we might be able to do about it.



    24 August 2008 at 9:21 am

  5. I am glad to have such a nice discussion with you on this topic.

    I like you was concerned about global warming, so I started researching it with an open mind. Today I have spent countless hours reviewing things like C02 concentrations, reading the technical papers, having email discussions with experts from both sides. Over the years I have developed from a concerned believer into a skeptic. In fact my skepticism on this subject is what encouraged me to start blogging only 2 weeks ago and develop fully the arguments for and against anthropogenic global warming.

    If you wouldn’t mind, take the time to review my latest post today on – AGW Part #5. It discusses the history of temperature and has some excellent (I think) graphs from an Ice core dataset. The data clearly shows recent and regular 100 year variations in temperature of 3 Celsius, what it can’t show unless you have a good understanding of the data is that temperatures must have varied more than that due to natural filtering effects of an ice core.

    I am planning to put in work on many temperature reconstructions but today it was ice cores.


    Jeff Id

    24 August 2008 at 11:18 am

  6. I applaud you for doing your own research. I’m not a climatologist, so I depend on their judgments and research—and, of course, on the consensus judgements of all the major scientific associations: Statements of scientific organizations. Of course, it’s possible that they overlooked the evidence you’ve found. But I have to doubt it. Still, why not try for an article in a peer-reviewed journal?



    24 August 2008 at 11:54 am

  7. Oh, you did ask the right question — peer reviewed journal.

    All of my work references peer reviewed journals. What is not peer reviewed though are the popular conclusions. Conclusions by the IPCC and a very few scientists, no where near the popularized consensus.

    I have found NO evidence. I only have reviewed the peer reviewed data. Something I am actually qualified for.

    I have to say that by referencing “on the consensus judgments of all the major scientific associations” you need to review the true nature of the “consensus”. You can do it yourself with a few weeks on the internet. If you are still intellectually honest and have not been sold on the man made global warming ideal I believe you will find a government organized structure which by its nature — ‘creates the consensus’, stifles decent and forces those who disagree to the fringes.

    If you don’t want to spend the time – it just happens that I did it for you with all references laid out here.

    The first three articles are the most relevant. I have only done the IPCC so far but that is the big one. — There are others.

    I also have to point out the petition project for which there are 31000 scientists who have reviewed the “peer reviewed” papers who also disagree with the conclusions. If half of them are idiots with degrees and another half are just flat wrong, you still have over 7000 scientists looking you straight in the eye telling you — Be careful, this data does not support the conclusions!

    Wow this is fun. Blogging is a blast! I should have done this 20 years ago.


    Jeff Id

    24 August 2008 at 1:16 pm

  8. Well, I have to say that statements such as this one, from the American Meterological Society, seem to indicate a strong consensus among those most directly investigating the issue:

    The American Meteorological Society (AMS) statement adopted by their council in 2003 said:

    There is now clear evidence that the mean annual temperature at the Earth’s surface, averaged over the entire globe, has been increasing in the past 200 years. There is also clear evidence that the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased over the same period. In the past decade, significant progress has been made toward a better understanding of the climate system and toward improved projections of long-term climate change… Human activities have become a major source of environmental change. Of great urgency are the climate consequences of the increasing atmospheric abundance of greenhouse gases… Because greenhouse gases continue to increase, we are, in effect, conducting a global climate experiment, neither planned nor controlled, the results of which may present unprecedented challenges to our wisdom and foresight as well as have significant impacts on our natural and societal systems.[21]



    24 August 2008 at 1:46 pm

  9. Thanks for the fast reply.

    I took the time to review your website between posts to understand your position. I am a conservative myself – not a republican. I wouldn’t vote for McCain either if I had a choice but here we are.

    Something which I have never been able to resolve to myself is why do Democrats trust governement so without question. Democrats will question everything else except for a bulletin from a “non-partisan” government organization.

    Your response shows that you have spent very little time from my previous post reviewing how I see the nature of the government argument. It is full of conclusion with no meat.

    To be sure, as you put it — It seems to indicate a strong consensus among those most directly investigating the issue.

    It does seem that way. What would you say if I told you that most climatologists I have heard from don’t agree but the ones who do, get the funding. Sounds like big oil to me.

    You really should try some investigation on your own. If you don’t trust my work there is vast amounts of other data on this.

    I of course have a letter from one of the scientists themselves who resigned from the IPCC for the very reasons I am trying so hard to outline.

    The government does have a horse in this race. Question them before you trust them.

    You got my interest with the razor post.


    Jeff Id

    24 August 2008 at 2:12 pm

  10. Democrats trust government without question? Where on earth did you get that idea? The slogan “Question Authority” arose on the Left, not the Right. The Democrats have been calling for investigations and oversight of government agencies for years, while the GOP stonewalls and tries to keep things secret. You statement doesn’t seem to have much foundation, I must say.

    Moreover, the government (that is to say, the Bush Administration and the GOP in Congress) have long played the role of denying global warming. James Inhofe notably said that global warming is a hoax, promulgated by a global conspiracy of scientists. (He didn’t actually say the last part, but that’s the only way that the first part makes sense.)

    Certainly there are big bucks in denying global warming: the oil and coal industries are busy as can be, denying it and finding and funding “experts” who will speak out against global warming. In fact, the tactics match those used by the tobacco industry to attack findings that cigarettes were bad for one’s health: confuse the issues, call for more study, and stall, stall, stall.



    24 August 2008 at 2:31 pm

  11. Wow, I’m sorry to get you so angry Leasure Guy. I meant that the democrats I have dealt with not the party slogan trust government too much. Like you they won’t question “non-partisan” government organizations, you need to research this.

    I really am glad that the Bush administration has done what it has. They also took the time to look at this issue objectively. The party line is ‘Oil’ but if you were in politics that’s what you would say too (if you wanted to keep your job.)

    Not everything democrats do is wrong, I am pro choice, but by the same thread the democrats are on the wrong side of this one.

    You have been brainwashed by the left media about this, conservatives don’t smoke they just don’t want YOU to tell US not to!

    In addition to this ideology there is of course the money. The same green money funding the global warming movement for the Democrats. Open your mind about this, both parties step in poo once in a while.

    Anthropogenic global warming has serious serious flaws in its data. Keep questioning the government and look deep for the truth. Our economy is at risk and it is the only way to fund ecological change.

    Wait don’t look deep, the evidence is absolutely everywhere. Look shallow!


    Jeff Id

    24 August 2008 at 3:01 pm

  12. You are confusing astonishment with anger. I’m not angry, simply astonished. I can’t think of any Democrats who have much trust in the government over the past 8 years.

    I of course don’t know the Democrats you have been dealing with. But, speaking for myself, I tend to have a high distrust of large organizations, such as Big Business, and in particular organizations that demand great loyalty and unquestioning obedience.

    I’m always bemused by the phrase “liberal media.” If you actually look at the media, you’ll find that it’s overwhelming conservative in its outlook and staffing. Take AM radio for example: Rush Limbaugh rules, and in his wake ride scores of other right-wing talk-show hosts. TV is much the same. Take a look at this post.

    Well, if you’ve liked what the Bush Administration has done, you will be happy with McCain.

    So far as smoking, I’m happy for people to smoke so long as I don’t have to breathe their smoke. Smoking in the workplace and in public places should, I think, be restricted as a matter of public health. YMMV, of course.

    So far as global warming, I’ll look around…



    24 August 2008 at 3:37 pm

  13. I was about to write back and apologize for my poorly worded post. What I should have said was I also fell for the global warming “science”. Not too deeply but I believed something was going on which needed addressing.

    Are you serious about not noticing that nearly 100% of the newspapers are liberal and nearly 100% of the local TV news channels are liberal and most of the networks are so liberal that Fox sounds like limbaugh even though its not. And how about reuters or the associated press, the biggest outlets of the bunch. You probably are unaware that china will accept the CNN feed next to its own state funded news but I can’t criticize for that.

    Be reasonable and don’t compare that to AM radio!


    Jeff Id

    24 August 2008 at 4:06 pm

  14. Nearly 100% of newspapers are conservative: The NY Times and Washington Post, for example, simply repeated GOP talking points in the drive to invade Iraq and didn’t even note speeches made in Congress against the war. Local papers, except in deep blue states, tend conservative because publishers tend conservative.

    Glenn Greenwald has a good column on this very topic, and as he points out:

    Over the past seven years, the following people have hosted prime-time cable news shows: Joe Scarborough (MSNBC), Michael Savage (MSNBC), Glenn Beck (CNN), Tucker Carlson (MSNBC), Nancy Grace (CNN), Bill O’Reilly (Fox) and Sean Hannity (Fox).

    All of those are either conservative or extremely conservative.

    On AM radio, as I said, Rush Limbaugh reigns supreme, supported by a whole host of right-wing talk shows. And AM radio is certainly part of the media—indeed, it’s a core component of the great Right-wing noise machine. People listen to those talk shows in great numbers, as Rush Limbaugh is happy to tell you.

    Frank Rich noted today:

    What Obama also should have learned by now is that the press is not his friend. Of course, he gets more ink and airtime than McCain; he’s sexier news. But as George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs documented in its study of six weeks of TV news reports this summer, Obama’s coverage was 28 percent positive, 72 percent negative. (For McCain, the split was 43/57.) Even McCain’s most blatant confusions, memory lapses and outright lies still barely cause a ripple, whether he’s railing against a piece of pork he in fact voted for, as he did at the Saddleback Church pseudodebate last weekend, or falsifying crucial details of his marital history in his memoirs, as The Los Angeles Times uncovered in court records last month.

    Local TV news channels are liberal—do you have a link to the data?



    24 August 2008 at 9:18 pm

  15. Thanks for the reply, its amazing that this started from me trying to show that that same little piece of ice has broke off and melted thousands of times and quite recently even.

    Well, LeisureGuy you are much further left than I could have imagined but there we are. If the New York Times seems conservative to you there is nothing I can say otherwise. I can’t stand to read it myself because of its blatant liberal bias.

    I’ll stop back sometime to see how your blog is going. I hope you will spend some extra time questioning the global warming extremists.


    Jeff Id

    25 August 2008 at 5:57 am

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