Wednesday, December 12, 2007

There'll be a hot time in Greenland this time

Plenty of news on the ice cube front today, with a roundup at the AP. Stoat and Co might want to start hedging

This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: "At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."

All this is emerging at the Fall AGU meeting, as part of which, NASA has put together a panel and a set of web presentations on tipping points and where the Earth stands.

The bottom line is that if you thought things were going to hell in a handbasket you were an optimist. (From the AP)

2007 shattered records for Arctic melt in the following ways:

• 552 billion tons of ice melted this summer from the Greenland ice sheet, according to preliminary satellite data to be released by NASA Wednesday. That's 15 percent more than the annual average summer melt, beating 2005's record.

• A record amount of surface ice was lost over Greenland this year, 12 percent more than the previous worst year, 2005, according to data the University of Colorado released Monday. That's nearly quadruple the amount that melted just 15 years ago. It's an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep, researchers calculated.

• The surface area of summer sea ice floating in the Arctic Ocean this summer was nearly 23 percent below the previous record. The dwindling sea ice already has affected wildlife, with 6,000 walruses coming ashore in northwest Alaska in October for the first time in recorded history. Another first: the Northwest Passage was open to navigation.

• Still to be released is NASA data showing the remaining Arctic sea ice to be unusually thin, another record. That makes it more likely to melt in future summers. Combining the shrinking area covered by sea ice with the new thinness of the remaining ice, scientists calculate that the overall volume of ice is half of 2004's total.

Alaska's frozen permafrost is warming, not quite thawing yet. But temperature measurements 66 feet deep in the frozen soil rose nearly four-tenths of a degree from 2006 to 2007, according to measurements from the University of Alaska. While that may not sound like much, "it's very significant," said University of Alaska professor Vladimir Romanovsky.

- Surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean this summer were the highest in 77 years of record-keeping, with some places 8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, according to research to be released Wednesday by University of Washington's Michael Steele.

Greenland, in particular, is a significant bellwether. Most of its surface is covered by ice. If it completely melted — something key scientists think would likely take centuries, not decades — it could add more than 22 feet to the world's sea level.

However, for nearly the past 30 years, the data pattern of its ice sheet melt has zigzagged. A bad year, like 2005, would be followed by a couple of lesser years.

According to that pattern, 2007 shouldn't have been a major melt year, but it was, said Konrad Steffen, of the University of Colorado, which gathered the latest data.

"I'm quite concerned," he said. "Now I look at 2008. Will it be even warmer than the past year?"

Other new data, from a NASA satellite, measures ice volume. NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke, reviewing it and other Greenland numbers, concluded: "We are quite likely entering a new regime."

But remember, being realistic puts people off according to to the do nothing crowd.

Picture from NCAR AGU preview by Steve Roberts

26 comments:

Phil said...

"an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep"

We wish!

Gareth said...

Combining the shrinking area covered by sea ice with the new thinness of the remaining ice, scientists calculate that the overall volume of ice is half of 2004's total.

(Expletive deleted).

The handbasket has been upgraded to a luxury coach, and the road to hell is an autobahn: no speed limit.

Fergus said...

Seen the latest anomaly figures (comment on my blog)? I am sure Joe is too nice a fellow to be actually chuckling...

Anonymous said...

"an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep"

Unfortunately, crap floats.

Dano said...

Butbutbut the Hockey Stick has been thoroughly discredited! Alarmists! Chicken Littles! brawwwk brawwwk!

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

Dano,

It's called "Greenland Warming" -- ie, isolated to Greenland.

Something about the way the cosmic rays bounce off Greenland like little super balls, which results in fewer clouds and lower algoredo and hence warming.

I read about it in Energy & Environment (so it must be true)

Greenland was once green you know (why do you think they call it Greenland?) so there's absolutely nothing to worry about...

Except maybe the expanding universe which might cause some problems down the road.

But we'll just have to keep an eye on it...

--T

Anonymous said...

"It's an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep."

Does anyone know what percentage of the total Greenland ice sheet has melted?

Anonymous said...

Forget my question above. I do, however, dislike when scientists use phrases like " . . . cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep."

Statements like that are not informative, and I would argue, designed to mislead the general public.

How many cubic kms of ice is the Greenland ice sheet? 2,400,000 cubic kms? 2,600,000 cubic kms? 2,800,000 cubic kms?

And what is the margin of error on that estimate?

Last year, while analogies of dubious value were also used to describe the Greenland ice melt, the figure of 240 cubic kms of ice melt appeared to be the official figure.

Even if the ice melt increased this year, that is a tiny, tiny percentage of the Greenland ice sheet. And is possibly lost in the margin of error anyways.

How seriously should one take this report on the Greenland ice sheet?

- Paul S

AdamW said...

"Except maybe the expanding universe"

That reminds me, I find myself singing Monty Python's Galaxy Song more often these days.

Anonymous said...

Grim times Rabett, grim times. Tippling points, lack of ice for drinkies, James Bond drinking straight martinis as no ice to be shaken with, ah the end of the world as we know it.

But then you woke up, it was snowing outsde the bedroom window, and Rabett just knew Bond was safe for a little time more.

Come now Rabett, we do nothings are cacking ourselves silly when the faithwarmer tell us about their dreams.
JohnS

Dano said...

Come now Rabett, we do nothings are cacking ourselves silly when the faithwarmer tell us about their dreams.

Yes.

Fortunately these po' folk aren't numerous enough to make a difference, in addition to their not having access to decision-makers.

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

But Dano, at least we are all having a laugh, and come the flood, and old Noah is looking for a someone to clean the lower reaches of the ark, is he going to take an tired old prune like you or a joke a minute like me.

Even your choice of best is looking jaded, old son. Poor tired Dano. Sloshy water all around and he forgets his floaties

JohnS

Anonymous said...

cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep."

Paul S said:
"Statements like that are not informative, and I would argue, designed to mislead the general public."

Such statements are far more informative to the public than statements of cubic km or billions of tons of ice -- since most of the public is clueless when it comes to doing conversions.

What would you rather they said Paul?

"Don't worry, the Hockey stick's broken and besides, the surface stations are "contaminated" with BBQ's... but I do have some great post cards of Marysville, CA just in time for Christmas (for a small fee)".

"How seriously should one take this report on the Greenland ice sheet?"

More seriously than any of the stuff you post, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

The statement misleads rather then informs anony.

That you have a low opinion of the general public and an esteemed opinion of youself is a matter that your therapist may be able to help you with.

No indication is given of the size of the Greenland ice sheet, nor of what percentage melted this year
(1/10th. 1%?). And what is the margin of error?

Even Unversity of Texas's Jianli Chen says the GRACE data has not been available long enough to state whether global warming or natural variability accounts for the increased melting.

And glaciologist Jay Zwally, with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, says his analysis of GRACE data indicates melting at less then half the rate Chen reports.

- Paul S

Horatio Algeranon said...

The Global Warming Debate

Dano said...

Reading this thread, should we add another class to the skeptics and denialists?

Donothingists?

Best,

D

Dano said...

HA

Nice poem. Keep up the good work.

Best,

D

Hank Roberts said...

Useful education, contention against wilful ignorance, or time wasted giving public attention to those who get it nowhere but here -- how do we decide?

guthrie said...

Ultimately it is a judgement call. I've seen online discussions where people looked originally like they were denialist trolls, but after a few posts it became clear they were merely brainwashed or misinformed.

Anonymous said...

Some deniers are pointing to this

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22246005/

as proof AGW is a hoax.

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course, we all know magma under a small part of Greenland is causing the entire globe to warm, leading to the melting of the polar ice pack, the warming of the troposhere, cooling of the stratosphere, the rising level of the tropopause, etc.

Every new piece of data and yet unproven hypothesis regarding that data represents a challenge to current thinking. That's how science works.

Unfortunately, not every new hypothesis is eventually born out, nor does every new hypothesis that is born out overturn accepted theory (very few do, in fact). More often represents a minor adjustment.

Unfortunately, the latter not so subtle point is all too often missed by the FOX-News-watching (and broadcasting) crowd.

--T

Hank Roberts said...

> District of Columbia Area
> 68.25 square miles

> "an amount of water that could
> cover Washington, D.C., a
> half-mile deep"

Half a mile deep?
That'd be 34 and one eighth cubic miles of water.

papertiger0 said...

>Half a mile deep?
>That'd be 34 and one eighth cubic >miles of water.

Or about three months outflow of the Mississippi River.

It's always easy to spot the alarmist arguments. They use obscure weights and measures such as 552 billion tons of ice melt ( is that anything like water? So how much is that in gallons?), or it's an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep(how much in acre feet? You know, the standard measurement of water used by every agency to measure volume of lakes and rivers),
to fluff the numbers and make them impossible to compare to any real life experience.

You're quoting number fluffers. But what else could I expect from a rabit.

papertiger0 said...

>it's an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep

How much is that in walrus tusks?

Anonymous said...

Papertiger said:
"fluff the numbers and make them impossible to compare to any real life experience."

I'd dare say that most people can probably picture a large US city like DC covered to a depth of 1/2 mile by water (almost 5 Washington Monuments deep).

On the other hand, "acre-feet" would draw a blank for all but those who deal with water measurement for a living.

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