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Crisis: Greenland ice sheet shrinking, sea levels will rise; oops, wait a second...

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Crisis: Greenland ice sheet shrinking, sea levels will rise; oops, wait a second...

Old 11-03-05, 09:21 AM
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Crisis: Greenland ice sheet shrinking, sea levels will rise; oops, wait a second...

http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO...8/N44/EDIT.jsp

Status of the Greenland Ice-Sheet
Volume 8, Number 44: 2 November 2005

The 21 October 2005 issue of Science contains a major review of recent ice-sheet and sea-level changes (Alley et al., 2005), wherein it is claimed that "the Greenland Ice Sheet may melt entirely from future global warming," which standard climate-alarmist claim is buttressed with the statement that "recently detected rapid ice-marginal changes contributing to sea-level rise may indicate greater ice-sheet sensitivity to warming than previously considered."

The assessment sounds pretty ominous. But are the data on which it is based really that solid?

Alley et al. say that "for Greenland, updated estimates based on repeat altimetry, and the incorporation of atmospheric and runoff modeling, indicate increased net mass loss." Between 1993-94 and 1998-99, for example, they say "the ice sheet was losing 54 ± 14 gigatons per year (Gt/year) of ice, equivalent to a sea-level rise of ~0.15 mm/year." What is more, they report that "despite highly anomalous excess snowfall in the southeast in 2002 to 2003, net mass loss over the 1997-to-2003 interval was higher than the loss between 1993 and 1999, averaging 74 ± 11 Gt/year or ~0.21 mm/year sea-level rise."

Attempting to give these observations even more weight, Alley et al. go on to say they "are broadly similar to those from a mesoscale atmospheric model used to simulate the surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1991 to 2000," where "accounting for additional mass loss from iceberg discharge and basal melting yielded an estimated net mass loss of 78 Gt/year."

Yes, the data and theory match wonderfully, but the actual observations were very spotty; and a new analysis of a much more comprehensive data set shows the central conclusion of Alley et al. - and that of the atmospheric model - to be 180 degrees out of phase with reality. And in an incredible irony, the new observations of Johannessen et al. (2005) were reported in a Sciencexpress paper posted online just one day before the Alley et al. paper appeared in print in Science, in an amazing case of the left hand apparently not knowing what the right hand was doing.

In introducing their new observational study, Johannessen et al. note that previous mass balance work on the Greenland Ice Sheet was "based on some tracks of aerial laser altimetry, unevenly sampled in space and time," and that "the surface-elevation data sets analyzed previously have been discontinuous and relatively short." Overcoming these problems, they derived and analyzed, for practically all of Greenland, a continuous satellite-altimeter height record of ice sheet elevations for the 11-year period 1992-2003.

So what did Johannessen et al. find? Below 1500 meters, the mean change of ice sheet height with time was a decline of 2.0 ± 0.9 cm/year, qualitatively in harmony with the statements of Alley et al.; but above 1500 meters, there was a positive growth rate of fully 6.4 ± 0.2 cm/year. Averaged over the entire ice sheet, the mean result was also positive, at a value of 5.4 ± 0.2 cm/year, which when adjusted for an isostatic uplift of about 0.5 cm/year yielded a mean growth rate of approximately 5 cm/year, for a total increase in the mean thickness of the Greenland Ice Sheet of about 55 cm over the 11-year period, which was primarily driven by accumulation of increased snowfall over the ice sheet. These results turn the central conclusion of Alley et al. (that the Greenland Ice Sheet is shrinking) on its head; and they signal the existence of serious problems with the climate model they cited as agreeing with their faulty view of reality.

In conclusion, it is finally clear that over the past decade or so, at the apex of a global warming that has been characterized as having been the greatest of the past two millennia (Mann and Jones, 2003), the Greenland Ice Sheet has not been wasting away, as climate alarmists claim and as even reputable scientists have been led to believe. It has been growing, and growing at a very respectable pace.

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso
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Old 11-03-05, 10:04 AM
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Wow, that's some scary stuff. I mean. Not.
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Old 11-03-05, 10:08 AM
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It has been growing, and growing at a very respectable pace.
Of course, we're on the cusp of global cooling/ice age brought on by the fact we're blocking out the sun w/ all the smog we put into the air
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Old 11-03-05, 10:26 AM
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Evil global warming. It is tricking us by causing increased snowfall and drying up the oceans. Soon there will be no place left for the fish to swim. Can nothing stop it?

I love scientists who are so committed to their theory that they get their facts ass-backwards.
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Old 11-03-05, 11:54 AM
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if the place is covered by ice, why do they call it greenland?
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Old 11-03-05, 11:59 AM
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The story I heard is that it was essentially a marketing ploy to get people to move there... might just be urban legend though.

EDIT: Then again...

http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gl.html#why
Why "Greenland" ?

There ia a story about the origin of Greenland's name. The first settler in Greenland, Erik the Red, is reported in old Icelandic sagas to have named the new country Greenland to attract other settlers there. Some historians, anyway, have claimed that due to climatical changes, weather in Greenland in the Middle Ages might have been much warmer than nowadays.
Ivan Sache, 3 September 2001

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/micegreenland.html
The real story behind the name is given in Erik the Red's Saga, based on oral tradition and written down in the early thirteenth century in Iceland. After the Icelandic landnám was over, Erik the Red and his father Thorvald were forced to leave Norway because one or both of them was involved in killings (details are not given). After Thorvald died, Erik was involved in yet more killings, for which his punishment was three years' vacation--er, I mean banishment from Iceland. (And you thought O. J. got off easy.)

He used the time to explore the rumored lands to the west. When his term of banishment expired, he returned to Icleand to invite his neighbors and friends to settle the new country with him. He purposely chose the pleasant name Grćnland ("green land") to attract settlers, but the choice wasn't exactly misleading. Some parts of Greenland, especially the parts the Norse settled, really are green, as these pictures from the tourist board attest (www.greenland-guide.dk/outdoor_life_photo.htm). He may have been a killer, but at least he wasn't a real-estate scam-artist. He didn't have that much to gain by lying anyway, since he didn't charge anyone for the land. As in Iceland a century before, the land was free for the taking. Natives had lived in the area in the past, but at the time of Erik's voyage, only the northern part of Greenland was occupied by the Inuit (Eskimos).

Last edited by nemein; 11-03-05 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 11-03-05, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
if the place is covered by ice, why do they call it greenland?
There was a medieval warm period (also called medieval optimum) from about 700-1200 AD when it was a viable outpost, and green. Cooling (1200-1890), and especially the Little Ice Age, gradually made it pretty uninhabitable, couldn't grow crops.
http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame...ec19/lec19.htm

If you search for the terms. modern global warming might be getting us back to the temperatures of the medieval optimum. Ebb and flow.
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Old 11-03-05, 04:39 PM
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but of course the enviromentalists are right that unless it's covered by ice, the world it going to end
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Old 11-04-05, 09:18 AM
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http://www.techcentralstation.com/110405D.html

How Much Ice in the Global Cocktail?
By Patrick Michaels Published 11/04/2005

One of the great fears generated by global warming is that the ocean is about to rise and swallow our coasts. These concerns have been heightened by the substantial uptick in Atlantic hurricane activity that began in 1995. The frequency of really strong storms striking the U.S now resembles what it was in the 1940s and 50s, which few people (aging climatologists excepted) remember.

Those arguing that global warming is an overblown issue have been claiming for years that "consensus" forecasts of sea-level are equally overwrought. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a global average rise of from 3.5 to 34 inches by 2100, with a central estimate of 19 inches. Depending upon how you slice or dice the data, the last century saw maybe six inches.

Critics have long argued that these changes require a substantial net melting of some combination of the world's two largest masses of land-based ice, Antarctica and Greenland. In addition, they note that observed global warming is right near the low end of the U.N.'s projections, which means that realized sea level rise should be similarly modest.

Over 15 years ago, John Sansom published a paper in Journal of Climate that showed no net warming of Antarctica. While it was widely cited by critics of global warming doom, no one seemed to take notice. After all, it relied on only a handful of stations. Then, in 2002, Peter Doran published a more comprehensive analysis in Nature and found a cooling trend.

At the same time, a deluge of stories appeared, paradoxically, about Antarctic warming. These studies concentrated on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, the narrow strip of land that juts out towards South America. That region, which comprises less than one-half of one percent of Antarctica, is warming because the surrounding ocean has warmed.

Warmer water evaporates more moisture. The colder the land surface over which that moisture passes, the more it snows. So, Antarctica as a whole should gain snow and ice. Last year, C.H. Davis published a paper in Science about how this accumulating snowfall over East Antarctica was reducing sea level rise. This year, Duncan Wingham, at the 2005 Earth Observations summit in Brussels, demonstrated the phenomenon is observed all over Antarctica.

Greenland is more complex. In 2000, William Krabill estimated the contribution of Greenland to sea level rise of 0.13 mm per year, or a half an inch per century. That's not very much different than zero. Just last month, using satellite altimetry, O.M. Johannessen published a remarkable finding in Science that the trend in Greenland ice is a gain of 5.4 cm (two inches) per year.

Almost all of the gain in Greenland is for areas greater than 5000 feet in elevation (which is most of the place). Below that, there is glacial recession. It shouldn't be lost on anyone that because no one ventures into the hostile interior of Greenland, all we see are pictures of the receding glaciers near the coast!

The temperature situation in Greenland is more mixed than in Antarctica. Over the last 75 years, there's been cooling in the southern portion (where the recession is greatest) and some warming in the North.

The only other masses of ice on the planet that can contribute to sea level rise are the non-polar glaciers, but they are very few and far between. The biggest is the Himalayan ice cap, but it's so high that a substantial portion will always remain. Most of the rest are teeny objects tucked away in high elevation nooks and crannies, like our Glacier National Park.

If all these glaciers melted completely -- including the Himalayan ice cap -- sea level could rise no more than five to seven inches, because there's just not that much mass of ice, compared to Antarctica and Greenland.

It is simply impossible for the scientific community to ignore what is going on, even as prone to exaggeration of threats as it has grown to be. The planet is warming at the low end of projections. Antarctica is undoubtedly gaining, not losing ice. Greenland appears to either lose a little ice, or, in the recent study of Johannessen, gain dramatically. It's going to take some time for it to contribute much to rising oceans.

Meanwhile, Antarctica grows. Computer models, while still shaky, are now encountering reality, and every one of them now says that Antarctica contributes negatively to sea level rise in the next century, while almost every model now has Greenland's contribution as a few inches, at best.

It is inevitable that one of tomorrow's headlines will be that scientists have dramatically scaled back their projections of sea level rise associated with global warming. Had they paid attention to data (and snow) that began accumulating as long as fifteen years ago, they would have never made such outlandish forecasts to begin with.
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Old 11-04-05, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
There was a medieval warm period (also called medieval optimum) from about 700-1200 AD when it was a viable outpost, and green. Cooling (1200-1890), and especially the Little Ice Age, gradually made it pretty uninhabitable, couldn't grow crops.
http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame...ec19/lec19.htm

If you search for the terms. modern global warming might be getting us back to the temperatures of the medieval optimum. Ebb and flow.
the Greendland Noorse..(one of historys only European settlements to be overrun by the 'natives') actually mismanaged thier recources to the point where its now completly deforested. they mistakenly assumed that Greenland shared the attributes of Iceland, which had rich volcanic soil.

(Actually the Noorse occupied Greenland BEFORE the Inuit, but were not as well suited for its climate, and were offed after a few hundred years)
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Old 11-04-05, 01:06 PM
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little OT, but it seems like Inuit's are one of the few societies that haven't been on a conquest/pillaging streak. They seem to live in their villages and not bother anyone. Must be something in the air there.
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Old 11-04-05, 01:53 PM
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Looks like the problem will be that the Greenland and Antarctica ice grows lowering sea levels. Stupid people build $4 million houses and shopping malls on the new land. The ice starts really melting and all those new places get flooded, breaking the U.S. economy (and maybe other economies) because of federal flood insurance programs.

Last edited by movielib; 11-04-05 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 11-04-05, 02:07 PM
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but now they won't rebuild, because you can't rebuild on water
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