Monday, July 12, 2010

What goes up, often melts down

Trapped. Eli should be working and no sooner does he come finish his last post then Scrotum shoves his Lord's shifty next question in his face

456: Given that you showed great interest in a paper suggesting that ice-melt from Greenland was great enough to cause sea level to rise by what turned out to be less than 1 millimeter, why were you silent when confronted with the above visual evidence, from the US Department of Defense, showing that half a century ago its DEW-line early-warning radar stations were standing proud of the ice, while now the allegedly melting ice is accumulating rapidly around them?

Hmm class let's take a guess at this one.

Maybe, just maybe, they built the radar station on the ice. You know, that's hard to believe, but bunnies, it's GREENLAND, land of milk and cookies. Gee, if it got a bit warmer during the summer, and the top layer got a bit slushy, the unattended station might just kinda fall down into the ice And hmm,it was blacker than the ice/snow around it. And probably absorbs more sunlight during the summer, and gets warmer, And there does not appear to be much ice on top of the station.

And, hey, look at that, it is a lot deeper in 2006 than in 1998. GLOBAL WARMING ALERT!!!


Arthur said...

Not sure if your argument is the right one - the other point is that glaciers accumulate on top and in the center, and melt (well, wherever the temperature's above zero, but mostly) at the edges, and gradually slide towards the oceans... so any station on a glacier is going to get gradually buried, unless the thing really is completely melting away.

Anonymous said...

Given the sheer quantity of specious and poorly thought out arguments, surely this document shall go down in history as the ultimate "Gish Gallop".

Tom W

EliRabett said...

Look at the picture, it is going down into the ice locally, just what you get if you put a piece of metal on ice in the shining sun.

carrot eater said...

He is absolutely relentless with putting that emblem everywhere.

Now put away the bunny-nip and get back to real work, Eli

Anonymous said...

Wow. I skimmed through Monckton's epic load of crap. It's the same intellectually dishonest nonsense by which he's made quite a name for himself.

Lord Scrotum defines chutzpah.

Michael Hauber said...

I'd expect the US military is competent enough to make sure that an important part of their radar system is stable enough to not sink down into the snow due to melt. And it must be important if they went to all the effort of building it on Greenland.

Maps on Wikipedia show that the higher parts of Greenland are getting thicker by 10 cm a year or more, which adds to a couple of meters over the timespan in the photos. And if its on Wikipedia, I'm sure Stoat has made sure its true....

EliRabett said...

Michael, not when they abandon it. Eli has read, for example, of the extreme engineering needed to keep stations in Antarctica from going down the ice elevator.
Neat pictures at that link

The DEW line was abandoned in 1993
when new radars became available (phased array??)

Anonymous said...

Sorry Eli, but this is not the right mechanism.

On the top of the ice sheets the principal balance is between accumulating snow and ice flow to the coast. Start off by thinking about the steady state (no net change in ice sheet mass). This doesn't mean there is no snowfall at the top!

now mark one snow layer in some way - a layer of dust perhaps, or landing a plane on it, or putting a building on it, and imagine that these are just passive tracers. What happens? Each slowly get accumulated on, while they get slowly pushed to the coast. Each tracer - whether it is the size of dust particle or a building will follow the same track and slowly get buried. It has nothing whatsoever to do with net accumulation or climate-driven variations of snow fall.

now it might be the case that there is some local melting effect from the buildings themselves so that they might sink a little faster than a completely passsive tracer, but this is not the main issue.

Monckton is a complete idiot of course.

MikeMcc said...

You're quite right that there's a local warming mechanism. It's a RADAR! Not only that, it's a relatively high powered one. RF radiation has a relatively strong influence on water molecules (that's how microwave ovens work). So it's reasonable to assume that there is strong localised heating.

The radar station can't be mounted in a way that prevents subsidence, it's mounted on the ice sheet. You can drive in piles or sit it on a sled, but eventually the snow and ice will drift around it, so the pictures prove nothing. On top of that the data presented on ice accumulation and loss shows that the loss is a relatively recent symptom, and prior to that was a long period of accumulation. So, again, there's no great arguement-shattering conclusion from those photographs.

Horatio Algeranon said...

The net result in this case may be due to a combination of snow accumulation and subsidence of the buildings into the ice.

In fact, the DYE 1 & 2 radar sites were actually built with both of those effects in mind:

"The selected locations for the new radar sites were found to receive from three to four feet of snow fall each year. Since the winds were constantly blowing, this snow accumulation constantly formed large drifts. To overcome this potential problem, it was decided that the DYE sites should be elevated approximately twenty feet above the surface of the ice cap."

"Eight huge "I" beams along with two 350-ton hydraulic jacks per column were used to lift the site above the snow. These jacks were designed to level the building whenever it became necessary due to different rates of settlement between the beams."

But even if accumulation of ice accounted for ALL the change in this case, Mocktman's focus on what happened at two isolated locations would still be essentially meaningless (but par for the Mocktman course).

The change in ice mass of the Greenland ice sheet as a whole (interior plus coastal regions) is what matters -- and the trend for that is downward.

But, hey, when it comes to overall health, why focus on the body when you can look at a single freckle, right?

Anonymous said...

Back in Old Boy Scout Campland, before the mass proliferation of Coleman coolers with great insulation, some of us worked at a Scout camp where food stuffs that needed refrigeration were stored in antique ice boxes. So, of course, we had to provide blocks of ice to operate the ice boxes. (This may be a good place to describe how melting ice cools things in such a contraption, but I'll risk letting the denialists misunderstand the science because it's not really a part of the story.)

The camp got a delivery of about a ton of ice, in 200 lb. blocks, early in the year. It was stored in a building called, for reasons some would have difficulty divining, "the ice house." At least twice a week, Scouts would troop to the ice house to fetch a 25 lb. block of ice for their camp site's ice box.

Years before I got there the poobahs of the ice house had taken to putting one of the large blocks of ice on end, near the door of the ice house, and sprinkling a handful of coins across the top. Then they would run various guessing contests, about how long it would take a given coin to travel an inch inside the block of ice, which coins would dive deeper, faster, which coins would dive deepest, and whether the summer would end before the poobahs could get their coins back without an ice pick.

Any object on ice will sink over time. If the ice melts, the objects sink faster.

Is Monckton really stupider than a Tenderfoot Boy Scout on these issues?

Martin Vermeer said...

Dye-2 is 7600 ft above sea level, Dye-3 8600 ft. Both are called "ice cap" stations for a reason: they are well up where the glacier accretes due to snowfall. They were both inactivated (i.e., no longer critched up to stay above the snow) in 1988. All this readily available from the good Prof. Google.

People aren't aware that ice in cubic kilometre amounts is a very different substance from what you put in your whiskey glass... this stuff flows like a syrupy fluid, and the Dye sites are subsiding and moving coastward at the same rate as new snow is compacted to ice.

It's all glaciology folks.

chek said...

Martin said: "It's all glaciology folks".

Ah - yet another subject Lord Muchkin of Fantasyland feels free to pontificate on without having the first clue.

Martin Vermeer said...

chek, I could add that both sites have seen ice corings (GRIP project). This obviously wouldn't make much sense on a site not characterized by continually ongoing accretion ;-)

Medina64 said...

In 1972,I was stationed at Sondrestrom AB whose primary mission was support of the DYE sites. In the heart of the winter it didn't snow much. However, in the spring, fall, and occasionally in the summer it snowed a lot, both at Sondrestrom and at the Dye sites. In fact, every few years the sites were raised above the snow that had accumulated around them. Since they have been abandoned for about 20 years I doubt they have been raised and it is not surprising that the snow has built up around them. Monckton is a liar and a fraud.

Anonymous said...

And what goes around ( comes around (

From the first link:

This is why I am so glad to report that Michael Mann – creator of the incredible Hockey Stick curve and one of the scientists most heavily implicated in the Climategate scandal – is about to get a very nasty shock. When he turns up to work on Monday, he’ll find that all 27 of his colleagues at the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University have received a rather tempting email inviting them to blow the whistle on anyone they know who may have been fraudulently misusing federal grant funds for climate research.

Time to take this and rub Watts' nose in it.

--caerbannog the anonybunny

chek said...

True, Martin :)

Incidentally there was a similar phenomenon on (I think) Watt's site last year showing what I seem to recall were described as two ITT transmission towers (or power transmission pylons) now half buried in ice in Antarctica. The implication made was identical to that in Monckton's slide, rather than increased warming leading to increased precipitation. What I wasn't aware of then (if I understand it correctly) was that the increased weight increases the flow and causes greater calving at the edges of the ice sheet.

I recall emailing the BAS at the time to see if they had further information on the location, but to no avail.

EliRabett said...

Accumulation appears to be ~30 cm/yr in height.

OTOH it gets warm enough in the summer on the ice sheet to slush the top.

So it looks like and and not or.

Barba Rija said...


So you are seriously mounting an argument over global climate change because of some pictures over a structure somewhere in the world?

Oh wait, that was WUWT's point. Silly me.

dan satterfield said...

Willi Dansgaard's book talks about this in some detail as well. Frozen Annals-

Martin Vermeer said...


that picture is too simple.

There has always been precipitation, ice flow, melting and calving. Before AGW, the processes were in rough balance, and a particle of fallen snow would "flow" to the sea following a roughly hyperbolical trajectory over thousands of years.

It's really no different from a mountain glacier: above the equilibrium line it collects snow, below, it melts away, but the general shape of the glacier stays the same due to ice flow. A continental ice sheet behaves in the same way, but is seriously huge.

You can see this in ice cores: the deeper you go, the thinner the year rings become, as the ice flows outward toward the coasts, every layer naturally has to thin. And if you want an ice core with a long history, you need to drill at the summit, so the net sideways flow of the ice is minimal.

Eli, I don't think there is any surface melt even in summer at the elevations of the Dye sites (as this would make cores from the sites worthless). Except apparently where the station structure touches the snow.

Richard James said...


There is some melting at Dye 3 most years when the temperature gets above freezing. See Herron et al. 1981. But I don't think its sufficient to describe the surface as slush.

EliRabett said...

Richard, this is a blog, we exaggerate for a living, but you are right:)

Anonymous said...

"Richard, this is a blog, we exaggerate for a living, but you are right:)"

So much for facts.. Recent posts you have exaggerated about Wordpress and now "Quick Ice", anything else? I guess you should think about taking the word "not" out of your mini-bio on the top left of the page :-)

Celery Eater

Firebird said...

The USAF 17TAS Firebirds provided all airlift (only available transport) to the Dye sites from 1961 to 1975. For any further clarification you might contact the Firebirds historian via The USANG 109AW flew support missions since 1975, and still provides airlift support for National Science Foundation.

The sites were built in 1959 and 1960. By the early 1980s, the vertical I-beams had been extended up multiple times from the original base and became unstable, requiring a complete new base to be built for each site (Dye 2 & Dye 3 - Dye 1 and Dye 4 were on the coast).