The cracks are showing

petermann_breakup-1_web copy.jpg Arctic warming is taking a toll on more than sea ice: two of Greenland’s largest glaciers have experienced significant breakups over the last month, according to researchers at Ohio State University. The Petermann glacier in the far northwest of the island has lost a 29 square kilometre chunk of its floating ice tongue, and a big crack further back suggests another large piece could be about to break off. Meanwhile, the Jakobshavn Isbrae on the west coast – the largest glacier in Greenland – has retreated further inland this summer than at any time in the last 150 years, and possibly up to 6,000 years.

Further south, a team led by Ted Scambos at the University of Boulder has examined the rate of ice loss from the glaciers of south east Greenland, previously thought to be too small to contribute much to the overall mass balance of the ice sheet. Using a combination of laser altimetry and satellite imaging, they estimate that the region is losing about 100 cubic kilometres per year, a substantial part of the overall loss.

While we’re up there, the Arctic sea ice is still melting fast. Cryosphere Today shows the current area to be 3.68m km2, homing in on last year’s record. The fat lady’s still in her hotel…

7 thoughts on “The cracks are showing”

  1. One little flaw in the Global Domination Anti-CO2-quotation:

    Water expands by approximately seven per cent (7%) when it turns to ice (commonly known as freezing); which means, ice loses approximately 7% of its volume when it turns into water (commonly known as melting).

    Now, it is also accepted that roughly ninety per cent (90%) of an iceberg, is out of sight, benteath the surface of the water. Which means that, for every 10 qubic feet of frozen water (ice) that can be seen drifting, another 90 qubic feet are drifting along beneath the surface. This would then melt, to 93.4579 qft of water. Which essentially means less volume to the oceans, and therefore, the sea level should drop, not rise.

    It has apparently also been observed, that the polar ice caps on Mars are receding with a mile or two each year. And that Neptune’s moon, Triton, has had an increase in atmospheric density; apparently, because of a melting nitrogen surface. For some reason, this seems to be related to the receding Mars polar caps…

    We do not know of any CO2 emissions in the vicinity of either Mars or Triton.

    So it has been suggested, that global warming could be traced to an increase in solar radiation activity. Which seems to make sense to me.

  2. Nobody is suggesting that floating ice that melts will raise sea level. But glacier tongues that break up can increase flow of ice down the glacier and into the sea. And when that melts, sea level rises.

    What makes you think that seasons on other planets are relevant to climate change here? The sun’s energy output has not changed much over the last 50 years – and probably a lot longer. It can’t account for the warming we’re seeing.

  3. J. One little flaw in the falling sea level theory…..the lower density of ice that occurs because of freezing is precisely what makes the iceberg float out of the water by approximately 10%. When the iceberg melts it makes no difference to the water level. That is, it puts the same volume of water back into the sea (or lake) as what it displaced when frozen. This is one of those “eureka” moments.
    And then there is the Triton thing….The radius of orbit of Neptune (around the sun) is about 30 times greater than that of the Earth. The energy from the sun must diminish by at least an inverse squared relationship (this is just a gut reaction on my part so feel free to do some research and prove me wrong).
    So, the energy getting as far as Triton is about 1/900th of that which hits earth. I’m tempted then to guess that a 0.1 degree rise in the temperature on Triton would mean 10’s of degrees rise on Earth.
    Since we haven’t seen this (nor even, as Gareth mentions, measured any particular change in the sun’s output) then it clearly ain’t the sun.

  4. How I’d put what Gareth and AndrewH say above: Anything floating in water displaces an amount of water equal to its own mass, ie. 1 kg of ice floating in water will displace 1 litre of water, if the ice melts the resultant water has a volume of 1 litre (if you want to get pedantic, because salt water is denser than fresh water, icebergs (which are composed of fresh water ice) will float slightly higher in the sea, so perhaps a tiny, tiny rise in sea level is theoretically possible from melting bergs).

    The claim that Mars is warming appears to be based on a decline in CO2 polar ice over the last 3 Martian years, I also have seen claims that actual measurements from probes that average temperatures on the planet have risen slightly over the last Martian year.

    The problem with using this data is that the time frame being used is too short, if you look at the temerature graph for Earth it is very saw-toothed, a much longer period is needed to show any trend.

    It is also ironic that due to a spike in Earths average surface temperature in 1998 due to El Nino, denialists have been claiming that GW on Earth has stopped, while claiming that it apparently is continuing on Mars, both due to changes in the solar output, even though solar output has been steady for the whole period that there have been accurate instrument readings ie. the last 50 years. (allowing for the <1% fluctuation that results from the ~11 year solar cycle).

    The claimed warming on Triton is a result of an increase in the moons atmospheric pressure that has been observed, Triton has nitrogen ice caps at its poles and these ice caps are undergoing sublimation as a result of the same process that causes the glacial-interglacial cycle on the Earth.
    Earth experiences several overlapping wobbles known as the Milancovich cycles, the 100,000 year glacial-interglacial cycle the Earth experiences is attributed to these, Triton experience a similar orbital wobble, as do all other planetary bodies in gravitational relationships. On Triton this cycle is only a few hundred years long, at the moment Tritons axil tilt in increasing with the result being more sunlight falling on Tritons poles, increasing the polar temperatures, and releasing nitrogen gas.

  5. Also, as though more needed to be said, if there was some solar process warming earth, mars, and triton simultaneously, one would think that we would see it on all solar system bodies, but that is not the case. This is a very thin argument indeed.

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