‘Gravity is climate’? WTF?!

From the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres  evidence that maybe, just maybe, climate has become a singularity unto its own, and everything now in the physical world is “climate”. Or…they’ve jumped the shark. The headline of this press release  is mind-blowingly stupid.

‘Gravity is climate’ – 10 years of climate research satellites GRACE

How much ice is Greenland is really losing? – Movement in the Earth’s mantle? – Enough water for all?

For the first time, the melting of glaciers in Greenland could now be measured with high accuracy from space. Just in time for the tenth anniversary of the twin satellites GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) a sharp image has surface, which also renders the spatial distribution of the glacial melt more precisely. The Greenland ice shield had to cope with up to 240 gigatons of mass loss between 2002 and 2011. This corresponds to a sea level rise of about 0.7 mm per year.

The "climate" looks a bit lumpy today - The earth's gravity field (vertically enhanced) Image from GFZ

These statements were made possible by the high-precision measurements of the GRACE mission, whose data records result in a hitherto unequaled accurate picture of the earth’s gravity.

One of Newton’s laws states that the gravity of an object depends directly on its mass. “When the mass of the Greenland ice sheet changes, so does the gravity there,” explains Dr. Frank Flechtner from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. “The GRACE gravity field measurements therefore give us information on mass changes, including climate-related ones.”

But there’s more. The uneven distribution of mass on and within the planet causes, due the resulting variability of gravity, the earth to have an irregular shape, which deviates significantly from sphericity. Known as the “Potsdam Gravity Potato, the geoid has achieved global notoriety. But this potato shape is equally subject to temporal changes. During the last Ice Age, a mile-thick ice sheet covered North America and Scandinavia. Since the ice melted, the crust, now liberated from its load, continues to rise to this day. This causes material flow in the earth’s interior, in the mantle, to replenish. With GRACE, this glacial-isostatic adjustment can for the first time be accurately detected globally as a change in the geoid height: the ice ages continue to have an effect, which is especially evident in North America and Scandinavia.

Anniversary in space

On 17 March 2012, the two GRACE twin satellites will have been in orbit for exactly 10 years. The scientists named them “Tom and Jerry”, because they chase each other on exactly the same orbit around the earth. Since their launch from the Russian cosmodrome in Plesetsk, the two satellites have circled the Earth more than 55 000 times on a near polar orbit at about 450 to 500 km altitude and a distance of 220 km, and continuously collected data.

GRACE is a joint project of the U.S. space agency NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The mission was planned in 1996 by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the University of Texas Center for Space Research (UTCSR) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and in 1997 was selected to be the second mission in NASA’s program Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP). The scientific analysis of the data is carried out jointly by GFZ, UTCSR and JPL. Principal Investigator of the mission is Prof. Byron Tapley (UTSCR), Co-Principal Investigator is Dr. Frank Flechtner (GFZ). Especially noteworthy: with GRACE, NASA for the first time commissioned a non-American company to build satellites. Astrium in Friedrichshafen, who built the GFZ’s founding father satellite CHAMP (Challenging Mini-satellite Payload), produced the satellite duo GRACE for NASA.

A hair’s breadth: gravity field measurements with satellite

The primary scientific goal of the GRACE satellite mission is to measure the gravitational field of the earth and its changes over time on a global scale with unprecedented accuracy. If the earth were a homogeneous sphere, the two satellites would orbit at exact elliptical orbits around the Earth. But the uneven distribution of mass causes perturbations in the trajectory. “Their analysis allows us to derive the irregular structure of the Earth’s gravity,” explains Dr. Frank Flechtner. “This, however, requires the satellites’ orbits to be measured with high precision. Each of the two GRACE satellites is therefore equipped with a GPS receiver for positioning, an accelerometer to correct for disturbing forces due to the residual atmosphere and solar radiation, and two star trackers to determine the satellites’ position in space.” But the core is the ultra-precise distance measurement system developed by NASA / JPL, which allows the separartion of the two satellites to be continuously measured with a precision of one tenth of a hair’s breadth.

From the varying distance between the two satellites, GFZ scientists can determine the gravitational field of the earth. Approximately every 30 days, the satellite pair has collected enough data for a complete global map. This monthly survey of gravity is at least 100 times more accurate than any previous model, and thus invaluable for the research at the GFZ and the international user community. “Many processes in the climate of our planet are accompanied by large-scale water mass redistributions, which are made visible in the gravitational field,” adds Flechtner. This enabled, as the name of the mission suggests, the first observation and analysis of homogeneous and globally numerous climate-related processes from the monthly gravity field models over the last 10 years. Particularly worth mentioning are

  • The mass balance study of the continental water content, which is ultimately a sum of precipitation, evaporation, runoff and storage. GRACE monitors the season-dependent changes in the major river basins, but also the huge groundwater extraction due to irrigation in northern India and California.
  • Quantification of the increase or decrease of the ice and snow masses in the polar or large glacier areas. GFZ scientists were able to demonstrate a strong correlation between the climatic phenomenon ENSO / La Nina, the rainfall patterns in West Antarctica and the reduction of ice mass there.
  • The observation of surface and deep currents, which – in combination with the sea surface topography derived from satellite altimetry – brought about a much better understanding of the global ocean circulation and thus the heat transport from the equator toward the poles.
  • The first-time possibility of separation of mass (ice melt) or temperature (global warming) induced sea level changes.
  • The changes in the solid earth after large earthquakes, such as Sumatra-Andaman (2004), Chile (2010) and Fukushima (2011).

New potatoes and improved weather forecast

The ‘Potsdam Gravity Potato’, originally developed in 1995, is now much more precise thanks to GRACE. This is not a gimmick, but is required, for example, to improve the trajectories of geodetic satellites and derive accurate global reference systems from them – a prerequisite for the combination and evaluation of various global sensor systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR), the satellite altimetry or local gauge measurements such as for the observation of sea level rise. Another scientific objective of the GRACE mission is to derive about 150 globally distributed vertical temperature and water vapor profiles from GPS data on a daily basis. These data reach the GFZ via its own receiving station in Ny Ålesund (Spitsbergen) and are delivered to the global weather centers within 2 hours to improve global forecasts. In addition, these data are used for studies of climate induced changes in the earth’s atmosphere.

A scientific birthday gift

Right from the beginning, GRACE was planned to be an international program. “For the 10th Birthday, the researchers have devised a special gift for the more than 3,000 users”, says Professor Reinhard Huettl, Chair of the Board of the GFZ. “The entire mission was recalculated with improved correction models, instrument data and processing standards.” Initial analyzes show that the accuracy of gravity field models could be further improved by a factor of 2. These new models will be released to the global users on 17 March via the Information System and Data Centre (ISDC) of the GFZ.

Like its predecessor mission CHAMP (Challenging Mini-Satellite Payload), GRACE will on 17 March be running for twice as long as originally planned. An end of the mission is, however, still in sight. Therefore, the GFZ have initiated a follow-up mission together with the U.S. colleagues. Professor Hüttl is confident: “We hope that at Christmas 2016 two GRACE-FO (follow-on) satellites will orbit around the Earth, because only long time series can provide reliable information on global trends in climate.”

###

Images in printable resolution can be found here:

http://www.gfz-potsdam.de/portal/gfz/Public+Relations/M40-Bildarchiv/Bildergalerie_Satelliten/04+Bildergalerie+GRACE

http://www.gfz-potsdam.de/portal/gfz/Public+Relations/M40-Bildarchiv/Bildergalerie_Kartoffel

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97 thoughts on “‘Gravity is climate’? WTF?!

  1. I can’t find the story on their site; I’d bet, however, it made more sense in German.

    REPLY: Yeah I was thinking that too, but this is Eurekalert. You’d think they’d check it – Anthony

  2. Actually a superb achievement, the mission is wonderful science.
    The more egregious comments reflect the normal rent seeking behavior common to federally funded scientists, it is considered good form to have your project produce conclusions consistent with the national policy of the day.
    As long as the raw data is not adjusted out of recognition and then discarded, there will be useful results eventually.

  3. “When the mass of the Greenland ice sheet changes, so does the gravity there,” explains Dr. Frank Flechtner from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. “The GRACE gravity field measurements therefore give us information on mass changes, including climate-related ones.”

    When the mass of the ice sheet changes the gravity changes, but does that necessarily guarantee that when GRACE measures a change in gravity it is necessarily measuring a change in ice sheet mass?

  4. “This corresponds to a sea level rise of about 0.7 mm per year.”

    This is what is really vapid …. exactly what HASN’T been observed …. by anyone or anything actually measuring sea level.

    Jeez.

  5. Once more you reveal your complete ignorance of what is going on, and how scientists are working that out. Changes in gravity are indeed telling us about the climate changes – in Greenland, Antarctica, Alaska and elsewhere.

    Indeed, only last month you were lauding a study based on GRACE that showed minimal net losses in the Himalayas.

    So what is it to be? excellent tool for assessing trends in ice and water movements, or those crazy scientists jumping sharks? Or are we simply seeing knee jerk reactions to whatever gets into your RSS feed?

  6. Gravity is absolutely the ideal parameter for post-rational scienc-ey types to measure and interpret.

    First, it’s quantifiable (Hey, man, it’s DATA) and it can be measured with meaningless precision

    Second, the interpreters can sound soooo important by saying “It’s, like, one of the Fundamental Laws of Nature, man! It’s the Physics”

    Third, changes in gravitational attraction can be caused by myriad things (any change in mass distribution), none of which is unique nor uniquely verifiable. The interpretation depends ENTIRELY on data reduction and MODELING.

    So GRACE data can be used to conclude ANYTHING

    Perfect. GRACE can probably detect butterfly wing-beats and forecast the effects around the globe.

  7. Nice article. Couple of ‘typos':

    How much ice is Greenland is really losing? ”

    Is is ?

    For the first time, the melting of glaciers in Greenland could now be measured with high accuracy from space. Just in time for the tenth anniversary of the twin satellites GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) a sharp image has surface, which ”

    Perhaps “surfaced“?

  8. When you look at the “Cryosphere” section of the IPCC’s draft AR5 documents due for publication if 2013 you will find several studies of the rate of ice loss world wide. Even with the help of the GRACE, the measurements cover a broad range of values.

    For argument’s sake let me suppose that the highest number is correct, in which case the ice is melting at a rate of 285 Gt/year. That sounds like a really scary number until you put it in context. The current “Ice Inventory” for the planet averages ~3 million Gt. If the present rate of loss continues we could be rid of all permanent ice cover in 10,000 years.

    While much of the science in the WG1 drafts is first rate, the summary completely fails to put things in context leaving the door open for alarmist interpretations being delivered in the “Summary for Policy Makers”.

    Those who would pick our pockets want the money now rather than in a thousand years so they exaggerate the dangers by orders of magnitude.

  9. The changes in the solid earth after large earthquakes, such as Sumatra-Andaman (2004), Chile (2010) and Fukushima (2011).

    Thay’ll need to improve their accuracy a little. The 2011 earthquake was off Miyagi, not Fukushima. That’s about 100km lateral error. Don’t give up the day job, boys.

  10. @JPW:

    Oh please. “Gravity is Climate” is a jump the shark headline or just lousy copy that’s sensationalized. “Gravity can inform some small bits about climate variation” is a true statement.

    Or maybe you want to discuss “what is is”…

  11. O/T but here goes. plenty of critical quotes :

    16 March: Post Crescent/USA Today: AP: Susan Montoya Bryan: NM regulators scrap carbon emissions rules
    New Mexico regulators pulled the plug Friday on the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among coal-fired power plants, refineries and other large polluters.
    The Environmental Improvement Board adopted a repeal petition filed last year by utilities and industry groups that were concerned about rising costs and New Mexico’s economic viability.
    The vote marks the second time in two months that the board has undone regulations passed in the waning weeks of former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration that were aimed at curbing carbon emissions…
    The board found that the regulations were not justified, that they violated New Mexico law because they were more stringent than what the federal government requires and that the state’s adoption of federal permitting rules had actually triggered a sunset clause related to the greenhouse gas emissions regulations.
    Environmentalists said the federal permitting rules, which have been placed on hold by the Obama administration, won’t do enough to curb emissions.
    Last month, the Environmental Improvement Board also scraped rules that would have cleared the way for New Mexico to participate in a regional cap and trade program…

    http://www.postcrescent.com/usatoday/article/38820927?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cp

  12. That nice lumpy graphic of the Earth’s gravity field illustrates very well the futility of all our lengthy arguments about millimeter scale variations in GMSL. If you look at a map of the Geoid, which represents the surface of the world’s oceans with everything except gravity variations excluded

    you will note that the difference in “absolute” surface height between that blue spot in the Indian Ocean basin and the big bulge north of Australia is almost 200 meters just across that relatively short span of the globe. ( I put quotes around absolute since it is fundamentally impossible to know the ocean height in that way because no baseline reference for it exists). In reality the seas are never level and any changes to their volume, whether from steric changes or from volume added by melting ice, will never be reflected uniformly across the planet.

  13. “On 17 March 2012, the two GRACE twin satellites will have been in orbit for exactly 10 years.”
    ========================
    Mark Twain –
    – There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    ———-
    Some more:
    – Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
    – When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

  14. lol, yes such precision…. let’s see….. ice melt measured by Grace….. there was a study just published which used Grace to measure the Himalayan glacier melt…… precisely showed a mass loss of only 4 ± 20 Gt yr−1…… let’s not start pretending they can measure sea-level to 1/10ths of a mm. That precision is derived by “fun with numbers.”.

  15. making it up as they go along, as usual:

    17 March: Stuff New Zealand: Forestry carbon trading in limbo
    Some foresters are reported to have sold their credits for a lucrative sum.
    But at the moment, things are in limbo.
    Carbon prices have plummeted, due partly to the global downturn and to cheap credits from overseas driving down the local price…
    However, with the carbon price falling from $21 in April last year to less than $8 today, the trading scheme has all but ground to a halt.
    David Rhodes says that needs addressing.
    ***”We will be hoping they … will alter the rules sufficiently where we end up in a situation where the carbon price is not as volatile as it has been and investors have a much more secure basis for deciding whether they’re going to get in,” he said…

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/6590067/Forestry-carbon-trading-in-limbo

  16. So with the currant rate of mass loss in a bit less than 120 thousand years it’s all gone.
    We better start moving to higher ground immediately.

  17. the pressure is starting to pay off. don’t back down:

    15 March: Reuters: UPDATE 2-UN aviation body hit by carbon emissions dispute
    * Working group to evaluate options, report in June
    * To consider role of developing countries
    * Under pressure to find alternative to EU scheme
    The news came as sources said China was suspending the purchase of 10 more Airbus jets, escalating a trade row over airline emissions.
    In a decision obtained by Reuters, the council instructed a working group to continue its study of “market-based measures” to deal with aviation emissions and report back at the next council meeting, scheduled for June.
    It also asked the working group to evaluate whether the measures being studied can “accommodate the special circumstances and respective capabilities of developing countries”.
    The official said a large majority of the council voted for the decision, including China, Russia, the United States, and the European members…
    A coalition of more than 20 countries, including China, Russia and the United States, has been organized to oppose the EU scheme, arguing the plan infringes on their sovereignty…
    The European Commission has said it was forced to act alone after ICAO failed to come up with a viable plan. It said it will modify its law if the ICAO comes up with an acceptable alternative.
    (Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in Brussels; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Peter Galloway)

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/15/airlines-emissions-idUSL2E8EF1Y320120315

  18. gallopingcamel says:
    March 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    “The current “Ice Inventory” for the planet averages ~3 million Gt.”

    I believe that number is a serious underestimate. By my admittedly rough calculation there is over 20 million Gts in the Antarctic icecap alone. Approx 15mil km2 land area X 90% ice cap coverage X 1.7 km average depth = 20+km3 of ice. As I recall 1km3 = 1Gt.

  19. Look into the Isostatic adjustment (glacial rebound). Smith et al used GPS mounted on bare rock to calculate the adjustment but was rejected because it showed an increase in the ice, (more gained in the center than lost on the rim). Velegona (sp?) et al used a modeled isostatic ajustment to come up with the politicly correct answer. The funny part is, they used data from the precipitation models in thier model.

  20. Gravity changes can not prove ice melting, because there are gravity changes also in places, where there is no ice and nothing has changed on the surface.

  21. I have said this before – GRACE can only detect mass changes, not the source of the mass change. There is no, repeat ‘no’, way for anyone tie changes in the Earth’s gravity field to melting ice.

    Take it for the NASA Systems Engineer with a quarter of a century of experience. GRACE only knows something between the center of the Earth and it’s orbit altitude changed. Nothing more.

  22. E.M.Smith says:
    March 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    > Oh please. “Gravity is Climate” is a jump the shark headline or just lousy copy that’s sensationalized.

    Gravity is what you expect, weather is what you get?

    :-)

  23. On a somewhat elated note this piece published a couple days ago

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10891.html#/ref

    Collapse of polar ice sheets during the stage 11 interglacial

    suggests that the supposed 20 meter change in sea level 400,000 years ago, based on sea level artifacts on Bermuda and the Bahamas which are supposedly tectonically stable, may be off by as much as 10 meters because the islands actually subsided that amount due to the isostatic rebound resulting from the retreat of the North American ice sheet. In case you find that as confusing as I first did, the theory, as I understand it, is that the depression of the mantle caused as the ice sheet built caused the mantle under the islands to bulge upward. When the ice retreated and the mantle rebounded, the bulge subsided accordingly. The thing is paywalled of course, but here’s the abstract.

    “Contentious observations of Pleistocene shoreline features on the tectonically stable islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas have suggested that sea level about 400,000 years ago was more than 20 metres higher than it is today1, 2, 3, 4. Geochronologic and geomorphic evidence indicates that these features formed during interglacial marine isotope stage (MIS) 11, an unusually long interval of warmth during the ice age1, 2, 3, 4. Previous work has advanced two divergent hypotheses for these shoreline features: first, significant melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, in addition to the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Sheet1, 2, 3; or second, emplacement by a mega-tsunami during MIS 11 (ref. 4, 5). Here we show that the elevations of these features are corrected downwards by ~10 metres when we account for post-glacial crustal subsidence of these sites over the course of the anomalously long interglacial. On the basis of this correction, we estimate that eustatic sea level rose to ~6–13 m above the present-day value in the second half of MIS 11. This suggests that both the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during the protracted warm period while changes in the volume of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet were relatively minor, thereby resolving the long-standing controversy over the stability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during MIS 11.”

  24. pat says:
    March 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    O/T but here goes. plenty of critical quotes :

    16 March: Post Crescent/USA Today: AP: Susan Montoya Bryan: NM regulators scrap carbon emissions rules
    New Mexico regulators pulled the plug Friday on the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among coal-fired power plants, refineries and other large polluters.

    Pat thanks for this and the other news on carbon trading collapse/Ponzi scams, they are good and welcome news against the insanity of the warmist fraudsters.

  25. Another thing about the alleged ice melting is this. Has anybody seen water flowing from the Greenland ice sheet? I do not think so.

    You know, ice can not melt without turning into water.

  26. Just a thought. When the ice melts we get a rebound effect on the crust. This rebound is filled in with magma under the crust changing the density / mass in that general area. Seems to me that calculating the loss of ice mass vs the increase of mass do to magma would be very hard to calculate. This will help with their budget ( the add climate to the header effect ) but I hope they continue to do the real work in gravity pretty slick stuff.

  27. “JPY says:
    March 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    So what is it to be?”

    It is to be the use of language that seeks accurately to reflect reality.

    You are building a fine strawman. But if you are not, then you are incapable of identifying the the inherent linguistic error in the title of the article. To say that ‘gravity is climate’ is about as ridiculous as someone claiming ‘my fist is your face’ when you get punched in the nose.

  28. Erratum

    Should of course be “on a somewhat related note” although I must admit to at least a chuckle, if not real elation, when another piece of the “settled science” is brought under suspicion.

  29. Just one question: Is gravity ‘Green’?

    Happy St. Patrick;s Day, YAll!
    Another Killians Red is about to experience a tipping point….

    MtK

  30. gallopingcamel says:
    March 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Splendid comment. The hype given to anything that can be interpreted as supporting AGW buries the real science in rubbish. Grace is so hyped you would think that the authors have confused the twins with LeBron James.

  31. Jeff D says:
    March 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm
    Just a thought. When the ice melts we get a rebound effect on the crust. This rebound is filled in with magma under the crust changing the density / mass in that general area. Seems to me that calculating the loss of ice mass vs the increase of mass do to magma would be very hard to calculate. This will help with their budget ( the add climate to the header effect ) but I hope they continue to do the real work in gravity pretty slick stuff.

    Interesting thought. Maybe the converse is also true and additional ice presses the crust further down, decreasing the amount of liquid rock below and lowering the local gravity. Maybe lower gravity = more ice.

  32. garymount says:
    March 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm
    It can sublimate
    ———————————————–

    Yes, it can, below 0. Now, given no one has seen water flowing from the ice sheet and, let’s say, there is less ice there (because of sublimation), we have to come to the conclusion, that there have been fewer days with temperatures above 0, which indicates COOLING.

    Climate science is a funny thing, isn’t it?

  33. John F. Hultquist says:
    March 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm
    ————————————————–
    John, in the article the words “glacier” and “ice sheet” are used interchangeably, although they are different things. Not good science.

    Second, you know, generally ice does melt under circumstances, above 0. This mere fact however is not enough to suspect the ice sheet of Greenland to be melting away. This is not science. This is exactly like finding a place in Greenland where the are more ice now and say, the ice sheet is growing.

    Given the huge amount of ice allegedly melted away from the ice sheet, one should at least ask himself: what has happened whis this huge amount of meltwater, where is it, all of it? And demand a PROOF. That picture in the article is not an answer.

  34. The larger the glacier, the longer it takes to come into equilibrium with any change in the climate. The Greenland glaciers (icesheet) will take centuries to come into equilibrium with the warming since the LIA.

    While 240 gigatons sounds impressive, it tells us nothing of interest concerning AGW. What matters is the rate of change.

    There is a slight increase in the rate of melting in the short GRACE record, but that in itself is not evidence of AGW.

    The Greenland icesheet is particularly sensitive to changes in solar insolation, because it is relatively close to the Equator (compared to Arctic sea ice and Antarctic ice).

    Increasing solar insolation would melt south facing glaciers while having little effect on north facing glaciers.

    No one has explicitly compared north and south facing glacier melt in Greenland, but this study of regional changes in Greenland icesheet melt, strongly indicates the melt is overwhelmingly in south facing glaciers. GHG warming could not cause this differential melting and solar insolation increases (caused by aerosol and cloud changes) are the only possible cause.

    http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/5/C1670/2012/tcd-5-C1670-2012-supplement.pdf

  35. howardtlewisiiii says:

    March 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    More explicitly put, the sun’s not yellow. It’s a chicken

    We will be ok for chicken and chips then.

  36. it’s amazing that the jetstream ever manages to work out where to flow. Butterflies flap their wings but is a slight change in shape of a gravity potato a positive or negative feedback or able to flip climatic Lorenz attractors?

  37. Aj Strata says:
    March 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm (Edit)
    I have said this before – GRACE can only detect mass changes, not the source of the mass change. There is no, repeat ‘no’, way for anyone tie changes in the Earth’s gravity field to melting ice.

    Take it for the NASA Systems Engineer with a quarter of a century of experience. GRACE only knows something between the center of the Earth and it’s orbit altitude changed. Nothing more.

    ————————————————————-

    Exactly. There is convection going on below the solid crust and that surely has an effect that must swamp any changes in ice cover. Ice has a specific gravity of 1, rock generally over 2.5 and molten iron 7.2 .

    Mind you I suppose if you can impute the effects of man made CO2 as being catastrophic you can impute gravitational changes to melting ice. PNS anybody?

  38. ImranCan makes a good point. The reduction in gravity over Greenland supposedly is causing 0.7mm/year sea level rise, which isn’t detected as sea level has been falling recently … or is it worse than we thought?

  39. Greenland, it’s worse than we thought. Head for the hills…………………

    Melt-induced speed-up of Greenland ice sheet offset by efficient subglacial drainage

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v469/n7331/full/nature09740.html

    It’s unprecedented!

    Abstract:
    We provide an analysis of Greenland temperature records to compare the current (1995-2005) warming period with the previous (1920-1930) Greenland warming. We find that the current Greenland warming is not unprecedented in recent Greenland history. Temperature increases in the two warming periods are of a similar magnitude, however, the rate of warming in 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995 – 2005.

    http://88.167.97.19/albums/files/TMTisFree/Documents/Climate/Greenland_warming_of_1920%E2%80%931930_and_1995%E2%80%932005_Chylek.pdf

    A layman’s easy read with references.

    http://www.appinsys.com/globalwarming/RS_Greenland.htm

  40. Robert of Ottawa says: March 17, 2012 at 5:19 am
    …….
    Not much to do with Greenland, I blame Canada or to be more precise, the Hudson Bay area, where you have probably the largest crust uplift anywhere, not to mentioned the true magnetic pole of Northern hemisphere, now in the rapid decline and a corresponding rise in its counterpart in the Central Siberia.
    More info: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NATA.htm
    and: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC1.htm
    As the Hudson Bay weakens further, NE Canada may get warmer, while Siberia may get colder.

  41. Since 1942 some 75 m of ice have accumulated on Greenland ( WW2 airplanes recovered, see ” lost squadron”)
    That is about 3000 Gton / year, so 300 Gton yearly differences in accumulation / melting should not be expected as other than small variations.
    Icebergs and melting is probably also in the range of 3000 Gton / year.

  42. “The Greenland ice shield had to cope with up to 240 gigatons of mass loss between 2002 and 2011. This corresponds to a sea level rise of about 0.7 mm per year.”

    This piece of informantion is a bit confusing for me. The statement says up to 240 gigatons between 2002 and 2011 which I divide by 10 to get an average of up to 24 gigatons per year which I divide by 360 cubic kilometers/mm sea level rise (approximately) times 1 cubic kilometer/ gigaton equals an average of up to ~0.07mm per year. Isostatic rebound is not accounted for and we do not know what the current rate is for the area under the Greenland ice sheet. Am I missing something?

  43. Philip Bradley says:
    March 17, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Increasing solar insolation would melt south facing glaciers while having little effect on north facing glaciers.

    No one has explicitly compared north and south facing glacier melt in Greenland, but this study of regional changes in Greenland icesheet melt, strongly indicates the melt is overwhelmingly in south facing glaciers. GHG warming could not cause this differential melting and solar insolation increases (caused by aerosol and cloud changes) are the only possible cause.

    Only possible cause? Dude, read the paper you linked to. The title of the paper gives you a clue as to another possible cause. (emphasis mine)
    Changes in the marine-terminating glaciers of east Greenland and potential connections to ocean circulation, 2000-2010
    and from the abstact
    We find that glacial retreat, thinning and acceleration have been more pronounced throughout the Denmark Strait, supporting our hypothesis that ocean warming associated with shifts in the Irminger and East Greenland currents are causing increased melt at the ice-ocean interface.

    Not one mention of solar insolation or aerosols throughout the entire paper. The only mention of clouds is in relation to data collection, not melting.

    March 17, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Particularly note figure 2 in my link above (and repeated below).
    This clearly shows the melting glaciers are south facing.

    No it doesn’t. It shows some of the south facing glaciers are retreating more than others. Above 69N some of the south facing glaciers are retreating at the same rate as the north facing ones. Again, read the paper to find out a possible explination as to why.

  44. Now this is what I call climate change. But if it were to happen today you can bet it would be blamed on Co2.

    Geographical Review -1929
    Changes in the oceanic circulation and their climatic Consequences
    In the last decade of the nineteenth century, between 1892 and 1897, there occurred an enormous outburst of ice from the Antarctic which filled the Southern Ocean with ice floes and icebergs to such an extent that traffic between South America, Africa, and Australia had to seek a more northerly track………………….Reports of ice dangerous to navigation in the Southern Ocean began to appear again in 1922.

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/208079?uid=3738096&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21100667583481

  45. The Greenland ice shield had to cope with up to 240 gigatons of mass loss between 2002 and 2011. This corresponds to a sea level rise of about 0.7 mm per year.

    However one must look at the complete picture. See the graph below to see what happened to sea surface temperatures since 2002. Is it possible the contraction of the oceans exactly balanced the loss of ice in Greenland? Was this even factored in?

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2002/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2002/trend

  46. “Moo, It’s starting to get cold here” says the Greenland Viking cow about 500 years ago. Not so much ice in Greenland historically. From my layman POV, It seems Greenland still recovers from the “Little Ice Age”.

  47. .Daveo says:
    March 17, 2012 at 6:31 am

    We find that glacial retreat, thinning and acceleration have been more pronounced throughout the Denmark Strait, supporting our hypothesis that ocean warming associated with shifts in the Irminger and East Greenland currents are causing increased melt at the ice-ocean interface.

    I was going to point out that inevitably an GHG AGW compliant cause is proposed based on zero evidence, but I thought it was unecessary editorializing. Do they present any correlations or other evidence to support their proposed cause?

    Answer = no.

    Their proposed cause isn’t science, its speculation.

    There are several studies that show north facing glaciers are not retreating or advancing while south facing glaciers are retreating. Here is one from Nepal.

    http://iahs.info/redbooks/a218/iahs_218_0095.pdf

    Care to explain how this is caused by ocean currents in the nearest ocean 1,000 Ks away?

  48. The interesting bit in the article really is the mass loss that is supposed to translate to a 0.7 mm/year sea level rise. That puts a rather firm (and very low) limit on the arctic melt panic.

  49. Daveo says:
    March 17, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Above 69N some of the south facing glaciers are retreating at the same rate as the north facing ones.

    No it doesn’t.

    This looks like a case of AGWers making up stuff.

    But feel free to show that I am wrong. I am delighted when people show where I am wrong because I learn something.

  50. According to some alarmists I talk to, gravity is “just a theory” and “not proven” etc. I guess that must be disimilar to theories about AGW, huh? Science settled? I guess also that NASA space missions would be pretty much screwed if “calculations for gravity” were wrong and the missions would fail every time. Yeah right!

  51. Any surprise? Was it not that all different fields are just ONE? Any water tight compartments in science are artificial, just an entanglement of words, actually a Babel Tower “confusion of tongues” we are living in and which we cherish so much that we cannot see reality.
    A conspiracy or the conspiracy of foolishness?

  52. ““Many processes in the climate of our planet are accompanied by large-scale water mass redistributions, which are made visible in the gravitational field,” adds Flechtner.”

    “Another scientific objective of the GRACE mission is to derive about 150 globally distributed vertical temperature and water vapor profiles from GPS data on a daily basis.”

    “The mass balance study of the continental water content, which is ultimately a sum of precipitation, evaporation, runoff and storage. GRACE monitors the season-dependent changes in the major river basins, […]”

    “The observation of surface and deep currents, which – in combination with the sea surface topography derived from satellite altimetry – brought about a much better understanding of the global ocean circulation and thus the heat transport from the equator toward the poles.”

    Net Surface Solar Radiation:

    Precipitable Water:

    Near-Surface (850hPa) Wind:

    Evaporation Minus Precipitation:

    Monthly Maximum of Daily Precipitation:

    Column-integrated Water Vapor Flux with their Convergence:

    Credit: Climatology animations have been assembled using JRA-25 Atlas [ http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/jra/atlas/eng/atlas-tope.htm ] images. JRA-25 long-term reanalysis is a collaboration of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) & Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI).

    “Apart from all other reasons, the parameters of the geoid depend on the distribution of water over the planetary surface.” — N.S. Sidorenkov

    Sidorenkov, N.S. (2005). Physics of the Earth’s rotation instabilities. Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions 24(5), 425-439.

    http://images.astronet.ru/pubd/2008/09/28/0001230882/425-439.pdf

    1. http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/vaughn1.png
    2. http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/image10.png
    3. http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/vaughn4.png
    4. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/10/solar-terrestrial-lunisolar-components-of-rate-of-change-of-length-of-day/

    I have new results. I’ve answered the questioned I posed here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/vaughn-sun-earth-moon-harmonies-beats-biases.pdf

    I could whip up a brief post and send it to Anthony, but it will be years before I have time & resources to elaborate to the degree most seem to crave &/or need, so would some capable-minded readers like to see the raw insights now (without the spoonfeeding)? For the brighter readers (some of whom rarely comment) the graph alone should be enough to trigger at least base-awareness of need for fundamentally-essential reconception, but paradigm shifts can be delayed by long incubation periods as subconscious minds reconcile incompatibilities with earlier misconceptions, which are woven intricately into extensive fabrics, necessitating tedious – & in some cases painful – unraveling & reweaving.

    According to the data themselves, solar-terrestrial relations don’t work how folks (whether lay, academic, mainstream, eccentric, alarmist, skeptic – or whatever) thought.

    Regards.

  53. @Vukcevic: As the Hudson Bay weakens further, NE Canada may get warmer, while Siberia may get colder.
    A hint of the New Paradigm in Science!, and not precisely “consensual” or “convenient”!

  54. Greg,
    Regarding your comment at 9:37 – “Has anybody seen water . . .”

    Perhaps in the interest of being concise, you were misleading. In response, I pointed out (via that link) that water had been seen. Anyone knowing of the site linked to, or any other similar sites, whether that person being an alarmist type, neutral, or a skeptic, would come away from your comment thinking that poor Greg doesn’t know ‘s’ from Shinola.

    http://www.zazzle.com/i_know_shit_from_shinola_tshirt-235953428725156363

    The point being, glacial ice manages to find several ways of moving from its formative regions (“zone of accumulation”) and ending up back in the ocean — and melting is one of those ways. See the part about “basal sliding” and “melting” in the following:

    http://www.eoearth.org/article/Glacier?topic=54335

    So, having established that there can be changes in the location and mass of Greenland ice (or Antarctica ice) then the questions revolve around how to measure this and what can we learn from it. “The primary scientific goal of the GRACE satellite mission is to measure the gravitational field of the earth and its changes over time on a global scale with unprecedented accuracy.” This seems to be a reasonable thing to work toward.

    You seem to start with a chip on your shoulder: In your first comment (Greg @ 9:16) you say “Gravity changes can not prove ice melting, . . .

    Insofar as we know ice melts, the point is ‘Can GRACE show where and how much?’. Turning the question around seems not to be a useful strategy. Just saying!

  55. Paul Vaughan says: @ March 17, 2012 at 9:45 am
    Bring it on.

    We seem to be getting pretty good at doing “Crowd Science” So a lively discussion of your information should be interesting.

  56. John F. Hultquist says:
    March 17, 2012 at 9:50 am

    “Greg,
    Regarding your comment at 9:37 – “Has anybody seen water . . .”

    Perhaps in the interest of being concise, you were misleading. In response, I pointed out (via that link) that water had been seen. ”
    ————————————————————

    John, I also said there: “Given the huge amount of ice allegedly melted away from the ice sheet, one should at least ask himself: what has happened whis this huge amount of meltwater, where is it, all of it? And demand a PROOF. ” All of it, John.

    That’ the point. Logically, you can not conclude from the particular case (a little bit water has been seen) to the general one (a huge amount of ice has turned into a huge amount of water and flowed away from the ice sheet).

    If it had been so, we would have seen (or have known about) those rivers of meltwater.

    Now, nobody has seen it, that means logically that the alleged ice melting did not happen. (Otherwise, again, we would have seen the product of the huge ice melting, namely the huge amount of water… you know)

    In other words, non-existence of an inevitable product of certain process is a proof, that this process did not happen.

    No significant ice melting, John.

  57. adolfogiurfa says: March 17, 2012 at 9:48 am
    @Vukcevic: As the Hudson Bay weakens further, NE Canada may get warmer, while Siberia may get colder.
    A hint of the New Paradigm in Science!, and not precisely “consensual” or “convenient”!
    ———————–
    Not long ago Siberia was very, very warm ; NASA-GISS and HadCRU fell for it.
    NASA temperature map
    It was all Brezhnev propaganda after USSR invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, to show that they don’t need the American and Canadian wheat.
    And the global temperature wasn’t same ever again, more here:

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/GT-AMO.htm

  58. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that GRACE detected the change in Lake Mead’s height. During the period from 2000 to 2011, Lake Mead steadily dropped from 1210 feet to 1080, a drop of 130 feet (the lake has since started to recover, it’s gained about 30 feet in the last year). During the GRACE period, the lake dropped almost 100 feet.

    Lake Mead does not appear to be visible in the GRACE gravity models released to the public. If anything, the GRACE plots show that gravity INCREASED in the area surrounding the lake.

    Lake Mead has a surface area of 247 square miles, so a drop of almost 100 feet should have a delta-gravity signature in water-equivalent mass ( ~300,000 inch-mile^2) many times the water equivalent mass resolution claimed for the system over its spatial resolution of about 200 miles which is better than 40,000 inch-mile^2. Sorry for the funny English units, but you can see the point.

  59. @vukcevic

    The Figure 1 (p.18 = pdf p.19) jump in the 1970s can be traced to a simple resonance somewhere ridiculously simple that inexplicably no one thought to look even though hindsight on this will be a 20/20 no-brainer in the future.

    Ryskin, G. (2009). Secular variation of the Earth’s magnetic field: induced by the ocean flow? New Journal of Physics 11, 063015. doi:10.1088/1367-2630/11/6/063015.

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/11/6/063015/pdf/1367-2630_11_6_063015.pdf

  60. “The Greenland ice shield had to cope with up to 240 gigatons of mass loss between 2002 and 2011″

    But 240 gigatons is roughly about 240 cubic km of ice. Greenland has over 3 million cubic km of ice. Therefore 240 out of 3 million is absolutely insignificant. What’s to cope with?

  61. How about we assume that these scientists know what they are talking about and Greenland has been loosing 200+ gigatons of ice/year for the past few years. How many years is it (at the current rate) until all of the ice melts? I believe it has been stated before that it would take about 10,000 years to all melt away.
    Considering the artifacts that are being exposed by melting glaciers (from MWP times) it would appear that sometimes the ice melts, sometimes it builds…
    So, not exactly an issue.
    Now I would like to know what is happening to the Antarctic ice thickness – seems these guys should have reported on that – perhaps a comparison of the relative melt/freeze rate. Who knows, perhaps Antarctica is freezing ice faster than it is melting on Greenland? Certainly wasn’t covered in this report as far as I can tell.

  62. Hi Paul
    Ryskin paper was discussed number of times on WUWT and many other blogs. I raised it on WUWT sometime in 2009 as soon as it appeared in the press. His paper was published in June, mine version 2 was submitted in late August or early September 2009. L.S. still maintains its nonsense. I think Ryskin got it wrong way around, although there is a minor effect in the other direction i.e. Ryskin’s way.

  63. The image looks like an orange that had been at the bottom of a drawer for about six months

  64. John Robertson says:
    March 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    “How about we assume that these scientists know what they are talking about and Greenland has been loosing 200+ gigatons of ice/year for the past few years. How many years is it (at the current rate) until all of the ice melts? I believe it has been stated before that it would take about 10,000 years to all melt away.”

    ———————————

    John, why should why buy it and talk about 10,000 years, if there is no evidence of 200+ gigatons of MELTWATER/year flowing into the sea?

    Who carried away the 200+ gigatons of ice/year then? Please do not say “invisible aliens” (LOL).

    So, given the impossibility of such a huge ice melting we have all reasons to suspect a sort of scientific/political fraud.

  65. The image of the gravitational field is amazing. I had always imagined the Geoid as being a roughly regular form like an oblate spheroid but this image reveals it as a very battered potato. It’s more like a potatoid.

  66. GeologyJim says
    The interpretation depends ENTIRELY on data reduction and MODELING.
    ———
    So Jim has just proved that all that seismology the oil companies do for oil exploration is just a fantasy and waste of time and millions of dollars.

    So Jim you run off and tell them that all that computer stuff is rubbish and you know that it is cos you got lots of common sense.

  67. GRACE is something of a “johnny come lately” in the satellite geodesy business, though I am sure this recent program has benefitted from more modern technology. However, in the 60’s and 70’s I worked with New Mexico State University – Physical Science Lab on a Navy – Johns Hopkins University – Applied Physics Laboratory program that was in its early stages, called Transit. It was the Navy Navigational Satellite (NNS) program which was a precursor to the GPS system we have today. One of the major projects in the 60’s was to redefine the earth’s geoid but this work continued into the early 90’s and included satellite programs such as GEOS and Seasat. The potato shape was already apparent in the 3-D models developed from work done in the 70’s and was more refined in the 80’s and 90’s. This integrated program used dozens of satellites and utilized new and interesting techniques such as doppler and laser ranging both based on satellite to earth techniques. Seasat used synthetic aperture radar (SAR) methods to determine global values of sea heights for the first time. Some of the first confirmation of plate movements in the new field of plate tectonics were emerging in the early 70’s from data being produced by the NNS system. GRACE and many other modern programs clearly ride on the back of some early giants.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_geodesy

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_(satellite)

    http://sd-www.jhuapl.edu/Transit/

    Bernie

  68. @ Philip Bradley says:
    March 17, 2012 at 2:27 am
    And @ Daveo,

    Marcel Leroux has explained that the east Greenland melting -just as is the Antarctic peninsula’s- is of dynamical origin, i.e. in the case of Greenland, due to the renewed advections of warm air as a result of more powerful, colder anticyclones coming from the Arctic, a consequence of the rapid mode of circulation that started during the 1970s climatic shift.

    Moreover such observations are consistent with 1) the Svalbbard island paleoclimatological records during the onset of the last glaciation, showing in fact warming for a while in these regions until the cold finally takes over globally and 2) a recent paper showed that during the LIA, arctic sea ice extent was not greater, on the contrary, lesser than now in these regions.

    Contrary to the reductionnist approach derived from statistical manipulation of world wide temperatures as a proxy of climatic evolution, what we observe is therefore a transitional period towards a cooling since the 1970s rather than the ominous signs of AGW. Will we get much, much cooler? No one knows.

  69. @ LazyTeenager says:
    March 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    As usual you open it and some non sense comes out. Clearly you have no clue about exploration and how seismic works in this context. Instead of Lazy, go to school.

  70. Philip Bradley says:
    March 17, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I was going to point out that inevitably an GHG AGW compliant cause is proposed based on zero evidence
    Again, read the article, read the references it cites. You’ll find your evidence.

    Their proposed cause isn’t science, its speculation.
    Rubbish. Get 2 glasses of water, one cold from the fridge the other warm from the tap. Drop an ice block into both of them. Which one melts faster?

    Care to explain how this [paper about glaciers in the Himalayas!] is caused by ocean currents in the nearest ocean 1,000 Ks away?
    Ocean currents was the cause in the original paper you cited. This one is not. I’ll put this poorly constructed straw man down to the sting of being caught with an ill conceived reference, rather than an indication of your intelligence.
    What I will say, again (seems to be a common theme) read the article.
    The global warming of the atmosphere also affects the Himalayan region. This could result in a general reduction of snow cover extent… As a consequence, the albedo of the region is reduced, heating is increased due to larger absorption of solar radiation, and stronger thermal winds (slope and valley winds) develop.
    All the explanations and conclusions discus thermal winds and the effects they have on the glacier system.

    Philip Bradley says:
    March 17, 2012 at 8:40 am
    Daveo says:
    March 17, 2012 at 6:31 am
    Above 69N some of the south facing glaciers are retreating at the same rate as the north facing ones.
    No it doesn’t.

    That’s an answer I expect from my 6 yr old nephew. Look again. Can you explain how the 3 South facing glaciers at the same latitude as the North facing glaciers have similar rates of retreat?
    But feel free to show that I am wrong. I am delighted when people show where I am wrong because I learn something.
    Are you wrong? Depends how you class wrong. On the most basic of levels, you may have a point. However it is more complex than that. Glaciers retreat for many different reasons, which are generally location specific (as the 2 papers suggest).

    Learn something?
    I hope you have learned to link studies that support your position (and that you read them first to confirm). I hope that by going back and reading the studies, if nothing else you learn that there is more to glacier dynamics than your basic explanation.

    I’ve tried to help you learn something, but based on this comment,
    This looks like a case of AGWers making up stuff.
    I think your mind is already made up.

  71. TomRude says:
    March 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Marcel Leroux has explained…
    Ties in with what I said, theres many reasons why glaciers melt/retreat.

    2) a recent paper showed that during the LIA, arctic sea ice extent was not greater, on the contrary, lesser than now in these regions.
    Haven’t heard that one before. Sounds interesting though. Does that add some validity to Curry’s recent paper? Less ice in the artic, changes weather patterns, more snow in some lower lattitudes? Love to read it, do you have a link?

  72. pat;
    Your cite/summary of the NM situation made me wonder (“also scraped rules”) just what a scraped rule would look like. Perhaps the underlying agenda would be exposed to the light of day? Providing a good reason that it should be scrapped.
    <;)

  73. @ Daveo: Reconstructed changes in Arctic sea ice over the past 1,450 years
    Kinnard,1 Zdanowicz,2 Fisher,2 Isaksson,3 de Vernal4 Lonnie G. Thompson5
    Journal name:Nature Volume: 479, Pages: 509–512
    Date published: (24 November 2011) DOI: doi:10.1038/nature10581

    According to press reports, they discovered that ice actually shrank during what’s known as the Little Ice Age, a period between 1450 and 1850, due to relatively warm ocean waters moving north…
    The rest of the paper is predictably warmist but the observation above is not.

  74. So does this mean that when the Vikings settled in Greenland and set up farms there (when the climate of Greenland was much warmer and the glacier was no doubt much smaller) that the Earth’s gravity was somehow different to what it is today?

  75. Chill out, guys. What? Like we shouldn’t measure the gravity field? If it can register changes in ice and water (or even air) mass, so much the better.

    But that picture is not a picture of weather, nor of ice, water, or air. It is a picture of the inner gizzardly workings of molten rock. Interesting that the Indian Ocean negative sems to extend north beneath the Himalayas where one might expect accumulated surface mass to at least balance the negative.

    How cool would it be to see a time series of that picture of an asteroid impact on some nice experimental planet?

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