Untested claim: increased CO2 helps glacier ice to crack

From the Institute of Physics , something so overreaching I just can’t believe the Institute of Physics would put out a press release on it.  Where does one start with stuff like this? This is all modeling, they haven’t even tested any actual sea ice to see if it follows the theory. Their premise would be easy to test with some glacier water, a freezer, a controlled gaseous CO2 source, and a tensile/ductile strength mechanical force tester for brittleness. But that sort of basic testing wasn’t done. Yet, they equate their modeled posited effect to be the cause of the Pine Island Glacier breakoff, as if somehow events like that never happened before CO2 was at 392PPM.  Note the abstract and link to the paper below. – Anthony

Crack in Pine Island Glacier in 2011, supposedly abetted by increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Image acquired November 13, 2011 by NASA’s Terra satellite. At that time, the crack was 19 miles (30 kilometers) long.

Glaciers cracking in the presence of carbon dioxide

The well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise and glaciers and ice caps to melt.

New research, published today, 11 October, in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, has shown that CO2 molecules may be having a more direct impact on the ice that covers our planet. 

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology have shown that the material strength and fracture toughness of ice are decreased significantly under increasing concentrations of CO2 molecules, making ice caps and glaciers more vulnerable to cracking and splitting into pieces, as was seen recently when a huge crack in the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica spawned a glacier the size of Berlin.

Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth’s temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.

“If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much reduced coverage area on the Earth. The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate,” said lead author of the study Professor Markus Buehler.

Buehler, along with his student and co-author of the paper, Zhao Qin, used a series of atomistic-level computer simulations to analyse the dynamics of molecules to investigate the role of CO2 molecules in ice fracturing, and found that CO2 exposure causes ice to break more easily.

Notably, the decreased ice strength is not merely caused by material defects induced by CO2 bubbles, but rather by the fact that the strength of hydrogen bonds—the chemical bonds between water molecules in an ice crystal—is decreased under increasing concentrations of CO2. This is because the added CO2 competes with the water molecules connected in the ice crystal.

It was shown that CO2 molecules first adhere to the crack boundary of ice by forming a bond with the hydrogen atoms and then migrate through the ice in a flipping motion along the crack boundary towards the crack tip.

The CO2 molecules accumulate at the crack tip and constantly attack the water molecules by trying to bond to them. This leaves broken bonds behind and increases the brittleness of the ice on a macroscopic scale.

###

Carbon dioxide enhances fragility of ice crystals

Zhao Qin and Markus J Buehler 2012 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 45 445302 doi:10.1088/0022-3727/45/44/445302

Abstract:

Ice caps and glaciers cover 7% of the Earth, greater than the land area of Europe and North America combined, and play an important role in global climate. The small-scale failure mechanisms of ice fracture, however, remain largely elusive. In particular, little understanding exists about how the presence and concentration of carbon dioxide molecules, a significant component in the atmosphere, affects the propensity of ice to fracture. Here we use atomic simulations with the first-principles based ReaxFF force field capable of describing the details of chemical reactions at the tip of a crack, applied to investigate the effects of the presence of carbon dioxide molecules on ice fracture. Our result shows that increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide molecules significantly decrease the fracture toughness of the ice crystal, making it more fragile. Using enhanced molecular sampling with metadynamics we reconstruct the free energy landscape in varied chemical microenvironments and find that carbon dioxide molecules affect the bonds between water molecules at the crack tip and decrease their strength by altering the dissociation energy of hydrogen bonds. In the context of glacier dynamics our findings may provide a novel viewpoint that could aid in understanding the breakdown and melting of glaciers, suggesting that the chemical composition of the atmosphere can be critical to mediate the large-scale motion of large volumes of ice.

Introduction

Ice caps and glaciers cover 7% of our planet, greater than the land area of Europe and North America combined [1]. They reflect 80–90% of the solar radiation and trap a large
amount of carbon dioxide. Specifically, the Arctic accounts for 10–15% of the earth’s carbon sink [2]. The glaciers’ dynamical behaviour and stability play important roles in controlling the global climate [3, 4]. Thereby, the facture mechanism of ice is of paramount importance for the understanding of glacial dynamics [5], and at a fundamental level is controlled by how a single crack propagates in ice crystals via the
breaking of chemical bonds [6]. Such growth of cracks eventually mediates the breakdown of ice, as exemplified in recent incidents of large-scale fracture of glaciers [7, 8]. Very
large-scale ice fractures occurred recently close to the Pine Island Glacier in the Antarctic region, which generated an iceberg with an area of around 880 square kilometres, the size
of the city of Berlin [9].

While the macroscopic mechanical properties of pure ice are well understood by laboratory tests and its behaviour has been characterized by existing fracture
mechanics models [10], the effect of environmental conditions such as the concentration of carbon dioxide, have not been incorporated into existing models. Lack of such knowledge prevents us from understanding how changes in the chemical environment affect the stability and movement of glaciers, which is important given the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

[Suggestion: do some laboratory testing to get the same level of understanding]

Conclusion
Using atomic simulations with the ReaxFF reactive force field, we investigated the effect of carbon dioxide on the fracture behaviour of ice. We find that the material strength
and fracture toughness are decreased significantly under increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide molecules. This phenomenon is caused by the interaction between water and carbon dioxide molecules. Carbon dioxide molecules first adhere to the crack boundary by forming hydrogen bonds, and then migrate along the crack boundary towards the crack tip.

The dissociation energy of hydrogen bonds at the crack tip is decreased under the attack by carbon dioxide. This migrationattacking process repeats itself and renders the ice crystal more brittle by mediating crack propagation. Our theoretical model quantitatively accounts for the effect of carbon dioxide on the surface energy and fracture toughness of ice. It could be instrumental for further studies of ice fracture in various chemical environments and may be scaled up by incorporating it into models of glacier dynamics.

paper here (you may need to register for free account to read it)

http://iopscience.iop.org/0022-3727/45/44/445302/pdf/0022-3727_45_44_445302.pdf

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132 thoughts on “Untested claim: increased CO2 helps glacier ice to crack

  1. I think they call this hypothesis generation….

    REPLY: That’s fine, if they’d limited it to talking about theory, and stated that the theory needs to be proven. But tossing in the Pine Island glacier, without having a shred of lab or field work to back it up is just arm waving over the top amplification – Anthony

  2. This could explain why ice core analysis for CO2 is biased low an underestimates historical CO2 levels.

  3. Ah hah! Now we have a neatly plausible explanation for why apparent past maximal atmospheric CO2 levels ‘frozen into’ the past interglacial intervals of deep ice cores seem to be somewhat lower than the atmospheric CO2 level of this particular interglacial.

    All that Pleistocene interglacial micro-cracking and hydrogen bonding must have simply allowed the CO2 to migrate away from the sites of maximal deposition.

    Elegant! Explains Dr. Zbigniew Jaworski’s concerns about the accuracy of ice cores perfectly.

  4. The well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise and glaciers and ice caps to melt.

    Excessive levels?

    Value laden, non-scientific language like that is indicative of bias. Has no place in scientific communication.

  5. Meanwhile in Mediterranean Adelaide in spring we’re apparently feeling the effects of all that CO2 that’s inexplicably moved to Northern Hemisphere, cracking its glaciers whilst making the Southern Hemisphere’s Antarctic ice grow-

    http://www.news.com.au/national/snow-at-mt-lofty-more-wild-weather-coming/story-fndo4dzn-1226493307107

    Perhaps the CO2 is is being sucked into all those NH glacier cracks but don’t be fooled by our ‘Mount Lofty’ as it would barely rate the description of a hill in America. It’s all relative when you inherit an extremely ancient, weathered landscape but summer is coming they tell me.

  6. “The dissociation energy of hydrogen bonds at the crack tip is decreased under the attack by carbon dioxide.”

    The title of Al Gore’s next movie: “The Attack of the Killer Dioxide!!”

    It’s first review, “It’s not what it’s cracked up to be.”

  7. This “work” is laughably stupid on the face of it. What is the diffusion rate of CO2 through ice? How could a patina of ice perhaps a few meters thick containing higher CO2 affect ice 1000 m thick? And how does a 25% increase in atmospheric CO2 conc. change the chemistry of ice significantly?
    Their work merely serves to increase the body of evidence MIT is highly over-rated.

  8. Any chemist out there? This paper seems to deal more with chemistry than physics. I would think that once the hydrogen bonds between water molecules in an ice crystal it would take more than just the presence of carbon dioxide to break and reform them but this time with a sprinkling of carbon dioxide as part of the (now weakened) structure.

  9. “….. are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere………..”

    Considering the shallow angle at which the sun’s rays strike the earth at the poles, and the fact that the poles spend months without any sun whatsoever, this statement is totally ridiculous. If this is the best that a bunch of high-powered physicists can come up with, we are in real trouble.

  10. Models and the science word”MAY”. Timing is everything, jumping on the CAWG bandwagon at this point might not be as clever a career move as they thought.

  11. Sorry meant the sciency word”MAY” auto correct by apple is placing hell with mocking this religion

  12. Come on and fess up now. Which lot of you selfish Northern Hemisphericals has nicked all our warmening CO2? It’s no use hiding in cracks or crevices because we’ll get to the bottom or top of it in the end.

  13. It has been about 40 years since the last time I “cracked” my head on the ice of a farm pond while skating, does this study suggest the ice would be softer and I wouldn’t get that metallic taste in my mouth afterwards ?

    If ice is absorbant, how can ice cores determine the past atmosphere ?
    (once again the press release goes way over the top).
    If you push a tongue of ice far enough into the sea, it will crack, glue or no glue.

  14. Glaciers cracking in the presence of carbon dioxide…..couldn’t this title also be written as in the presence of [place name of atmospheric gas here] ? And what about gravity? Surely gravity is a factor in glacial cracking?? sarc

  15. The null hypothesis states that there is no difference between the control and the test. The claim of increased cracking due to CO2 is false until the data shows a quantified increase greater than some previously stated level of error.

  16. ABC show called scandal, where the CIA fakes some pictures to start a war. Pictures are exposed because global warming changed the growing season in 5 years.

  17. CO2 has become the magic talisman – if not pseudo-scientific crack – for grant seekers. With every passing day, new and ever more fantastical powers are discovered in this mighty trace gas – the molecule that roared, and broke the ice; the gas that passed into the realm of fantasy and myth, so powerful was its spell on those seeking legitimacy and funding in Earth’s years of green delusions.

    CO2 has become scientific crack.

  18. Re Gunga Din @ October 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm
    At first glance the paper is not bad or stupid and appears to be well reserached. I will have a good read later.

    The main point to note though is that they were looking at levels of CO2 at between 0.5 and 2% v/v. Which is way out of the range of today’s current level of 0.039%, even a doubling as predicted by iPCC. The point by Hoser is a good one, but what they actually looked at was the propagation of cracks by the ambient CO2 rather than CO2 mixing with the existing ice so your point is not applicable in this case.

  19. David Thomas Bronzich says:
    October 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm
    And what about gravity? Surely gravity is a factor in glacial cracking?? sarc
    ===================================================================
    Perhaps CO2 increases gravity? After all, things are weightless in space where there’s no CO2.
    More research funds are needed.
    (Can I borrow your “sarc” tag?)

  20. Glaciers calve because CO2 makes them brittle? If that’s so, why don’t the tops of glaciers turn to powder? This doesn’t seem consistent with any observations of ice (snow, etc). I’ve never heard of hydrogen bond disruption mentioned as a colligative property of materials dissolved in water. I scoff.

  21. Gunga Din says:
    October 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Any chemist out there? This paper seems to deal more with chemistry than physics.

    Yes, Gunga Din. In the comment before your question, I think Hoser was too generous towards the article. I concur with Anthony: “I just can’t believe the Institute of Physics would put out a press release on it. Where does one start with stuff like this?”

    I would guess that the authors are undergraduates and also may not use English as a first language.

  22. You’d better enjoy CMEs while you still can, because according to Livingston/Penn’s research, the Sun will enter a Grand Solar Minimum around 2022, which will greatly reduce the incidence of prominences and CMEs for decades.

    The last time this happened was during the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) and sunspots/CMEs virtually disappeared for 70 years….

    In addition to this, according to the Svensmark Effect, the reduced solar winds caused by this Grand Solar Minimum will greatly increase the amount of Galactic Cosmic Rays hitting the troposphere, which will increase cloud cover, increase Earth’s albedo and cause lower global temperatures….

    Dr. Svensmark is about to have his theory tested on a galactic scale, instead of in a small cloud chamber at CERN’s laboratory… Part of me wants Dr. Svensmark’s theory to be validated, while another part of me worries about the devastating consequences on food production on a cooling Earth.

    Some horrific winters and famines took place during the Maunder Minimum and I don’t want to see these phenomena play out again…

    On the “plus side” (my quotes) if Svensmark’s Theory is verified, CAGW theory will FINALLY be thrown in the trash of history, where it belongs.

  23. With all the billions being spent in support of CAGW it is embarrassing that so little evidence is found. Propaganda is the only substitute available, and the bozos who fund it can’t tell the difference between science and propaganda.

    They have to keep the money rolling in for as long as possible as on the evidence of the scientific skills shown they are unlikely to find employment elsewhere.

  24. “Theoretical model”? Well, that sounds sciency! These junk studies remind me of all the ghost hunting hoopla: it sounds sciency, but it really isn’t.

  25. “hydrogen bonds at the crack tip”

    Maybe instead they meant the tipping point of the crack. Now co2 tipping points have already been multi-multi-model tested so the ipcc climists proclaim, so does that prove it true yet? Huh? Huh? Can it squeeze into the ar5 yet? Huh? lol.

    I wouldn’t put it past them.

  26. The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate,”

    BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m not a scientist. I don’t even have a degree. But I know that if I had THAT statement on any science paper during my years in HIGH SCHOOL, I’d get a failing grade.
    And, as a non-credentialed man….what exactly is the energy being used to break those hydrogen bonds in favor of CO2……And wouldn’t the hydrogen be bonding with the Oxygen in the CO2? And isn’t that also a hydrogen bond…and where does the carbon fit in during all this new “bonding?” Do we now have CH2O2? CH2O? What molecule is being formed?

    ” the effect of environmental conditions such as the concentration of carbon dioxide, have not been incorporated into existing models. Lack of such knowledge prevents us from understanding how changes in the chemical environment affect the stability and movement of glaciers, which is important given the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

    And yet they dare to make CONCLUSIONS from models that simulate….something.
    How exactly do they get CO2 to adhere ONLY to the crack boundary? What is the definition of a crack boundary? The surface area of the crack? And then the CO2 migrates along the ice to the tip……

    In all my years of lurking here…THIS has to be the most idiotic paper that I’ve seen.

    Of course, being just a regular guy…I’m probably wrong..and we’re all going to drown when the ice cracks, melts, and the oceans rise and.. ah forget it.

  27. Gunga Din says:
    October 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    David Thomas Bronzich says:
    October 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm
    And what about gravity? Surely gravity is a factor in glacial cracking?? sarc
    ===================================================================
    Perhaps CO2 increases gravity? After all, things are weightless in space where there’s no CO2.
    More research funds are needed.
    (Can I borrow your “sarc” tag?)
    Please, feel free.

  28. English as a second language … as a hobby, look for the abundance of germanic names among authors of CO2 climate papers. I don’t know what they have been putting in their drinking water this last few decades. To be fair, a German sounding name does not prove German birth, education, propaganda etc, but there’s a heap of such names in the IPCC literature & similar. And, as in this case, a rapid increase in oriental names is in progress. When was the last time you saw a paper authored by a plain Jones?

  29. If this were true, does it conflict with the supposedly settled science concerning air inclusions in ancient ice being indicative of the ancient atmosphere?

  30. That is what happens when a bottle of gin, soda and ice are all that is left after the CAGW party has moved on.
    This is scientific equivalent of Big Bird!
    panic!

  31. Rattus Norvegicus said:
    October 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm
    I think they call this hypothesis generation….
    ———————————————
    Or maybe hype-othesis

  32. Geoff Sherrington says:
    October 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Careful Geoff! Someone might accuse you of playing the Godwin card.

  33. A simple comment – but one I’m sure many of us actually thought (or in my case said out loud!)
    ”OH!, FFS!”

  34. Rattus Norvegicus says:
    October 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm
    I think they call this hypothesis generation….

    Yeah, I’ve heard some other terms for it.

  35. Brian H says:
    October 10, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    0.5 to 2% concentrations = 5,000 to 20,000 ppm.

    Odd that they did not include that in the abstract just after :

    “In the context of glacier dynamics our findings may provide a novel viewpoint that could aid in understanding the breakdown and melting of glaciers”

  36. If this paper is correct, then it means break-up and subsequent loss of sea-ice is not as much of an indicator of global temperature as many of the CAGWists would have us believe.

  37. Am I being incredibly stupid?

    “Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth’s temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.”
    If the ice caps an glaciers cover only 7% of the earth’s surface how do they reflect 80% of the Sun’s light rays entering the earth’s atmosphere?

  38. They talk about CO2 ‘bubbles’.
    Just how does the 0.0004 percent CO2 fraction of the air get together to form bubbles?
    IPCC ‘science’ requires the CO2 to be well mixed in the atmosphere.
    But why let the facts spoil a good scare story!

  39. I find this paper convincing. Clearly the increased levels of CO2 has caused quack propagation, both in ice, and in non-ice conditions. Especially the presence of CO2 near glaciers and other ice, such as the Antarctic, causes a great increase in quack propagation; beyond anything seen before. Is there really any doubt that the fantastic increase in quacking lately is caused by CO2?

    (Do I really need a ;-) ….

  40. “Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth’s temperature” Bovine faeces yet again, as already pointed out here the angle of incoming solar radiation is too shallow at the poles, & six months of the year they are without sun pretty much.

    Now, I have no figures for the flexural strength of ice but I have mentioned this previously, what they are talking about is a very simple & natural cantilever beam. All the signiticant force is at the support, (assuming the ice shelf to be fairly homogenous over time), in this case where the ice shelf abuts the larger mass of ice or land. The more the glacier spreads outwards over the seas, the more stress is applied to the supporting end, it is subjected to, by what are to all intents & purposes, uniformly distributed loads albeit dynamic being sea! It is bound to eventually break off under its own weight, & cracks always form at the least line of resistance. There is no mystery here & it would have little to do with any warming, it would crack under self-weight regardless once it reaches its flexural limits, which probably ain’t much to start with! Also the cracking could just as well be induced by flexural movement of the ice under movement of the seas beneath it, weakest point? Where it it supported,again!

  41. E.M.Smith is correct about the increase in quacks:

    “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its preliminary report on North American breeding ducks and habitat, and the population is about 48.6 million compared to 45.6 million last year.

    That figure is also 43 percent above the 1955 to 2010 long-term average.

    This year’s estimate is a record high, and only the sixth time in the survey’s history that the total duck population exceeded 40 million, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

    http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/aug/09/good-year-for-duck-hunters/

  42. Sorry if this has already been said but if glaciers are more likely to crack now due to higher levels of atmospheric CO₂ doesn’t it follow that the chunks breaking off the end would be smaller and more numerous, rather than big pieces the ‘size of Berlin’. By the way, what is a Berlin in Wales or Manhattan equivalants?

  43. “Specifically, the Arctic accounts for 10–15% of the earth’s carbon sink [2].”
    This cannot be true. The CO2 mass in the atmosphere is 2,3 *10^15 kg, and in the oceans 141 *10^15 kg,
    The ice volume in the Arctic is not near 10-15 % of the volume of the sum of all ocean water.
    Not to consider all other carbon sinks, on land.
    This paper gives me a Sokal feeling.

  44. The reliance shown in model output is frightening. These ”scientists” need to get out more and actually run some experiments. Theories are all very well but if the observations do not follow the theory then the theory is WRONG.

  45. It seems to me that their results are true at a molecular level. Throw a handful of CO2 molecules in with a few dozen ice crystals and the CO2 is going to compete to break up the H2O bonds.

    So I suppose if amospheric concentrations of CO2 approached 200,000 ppm or so the glaciers would begin cracking like knees in a nursing home.

    To get their basic research scaled up to a WAGTD level requires a LOT of ifs. I’m going to coin a term for that branch of climatology that can turn everything CO2 into a catastrophe. We can call it IFFYOLOGY.

  46. Geoff Sherrington says:
    October 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    When was the last time you saw a paper authored by a plain Jones?

    Was there one about UHI in China?

  47. donald penman says:
    October 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm
    “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_von_D%C3%A4niken
    I wonder how he would have fared today with his ideas if he got his papers peer reviewed.donald ”

    Oh please. What an unfair comparison. Erich von Däniken never demanded tax payer money; and he never forced anyone to pay outrageous taxes or energy bills. Morally, he’s far above the slime that populates todays warmist institutions.

  48. R. Shearer says:
    October 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    This could explain why ice core analysis for CO2 is biased low an underestimates historical CO2 levels.

    Steve Short says:
    October 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    All that Pleistocene interglacial micro-cracking and hydrogen bonding must have simply allowed the CO2 to migrate away from the sites of maximal deposition.

    Well, as far as I remember from the long past lessons in chemistry/physics, CO2 and other stuff migrates net from higher levels to lower levels, not reverse. Thus either the levels measured in ice cores were way lower in the past (lower than 180 ppmv during glacials, not really good for plants), or the migration is far less than what this study expected…

    Anyway, Jaworowski was completely wrong on this point: if there are cracks in the ice cores, the CO2 levels inside the bubbles would increase over time with the current much higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere…

    Last but not least, some very accurate methods sublimate all ice and separate all parts cryogenically, so that any hidden CO2 inbetween the ice crystals is captured too. The results of the “grating” technique, which only captures the airin the bubbles gives similar results, thus there is little CO2 hidden in the intercrystalline ice.

  49. Bengt Abelsson says:
    October 11, 2012 at 2:27 am

    “Specifically, the Arctic accounts for 10–15% of the earth’s carbon sink [2].”

    They (deliberately?) confuse between the Arctic as CO2 sink place by the Thermohaline Circulation (THC) and the amount of CO2 captured in ice. I once calculated how much CO2 is captured in all ice on earth. The enclosed air bubbles are some 3% of weight of the ice. With 180-300 ppmv CO2, that would give less than 1 ppmv in the atmosphere if all released at once, if I remember well…

  50. Geoff.

    You asked: “When was the last time you saw a paper authored by a plain Jones?”

    You’d be surprised, there are loads of them. Name’s Jones; Phil Jones. Famous stirrer and shaker of temperature data.

  51. H.R. says:
    October 11, 2012 at 2:40 am

    It seems to me that their results are true at a molecular level. Throw a handful of CO2 molecules in with a few dozen ice crystals and the CO2 is going to compete to break up the H2O bonds.

    That highly depends of temperature. The main water like layer is at the boundary between ice and air, where the layer thickness is directly related to temperature, that can contain some CO2. At – 32°C, without salt/dust inclusions, there is no water like layer left at the surface (Vostok is average at -40°C…).
    The layer between two ice crystals is of a different order: while not nicely ordered, it remains to be seen how much CO2 can be integrated, less how much still can migrate.
    Further, CO2 as good as salts or any water soluble addition lowers the melting point of ice. Maybe it is that what the investigation is about?

    And have a look at the opposite: put a bottle of Coke in the freezer: most of the bottle will freeze over, only leaving a small part of highly acidic liquid and near all CO2 in the above space. Be careful, it is not the first bottle that explodes, due to the high pressure buildup…

  52. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    October 11, 2012 at 3:37 am

    My memory isn’t as good as it once was… If all CO2 from ice core was released at once, that would lower the CO2 levels of the atmosphere with less than 1 ppmv, because the CO2 levels in the ice cores air in average is a lot lower than in the current atmosphere…

  53. Gunga Din says:
    October 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Any chemist out there?
    ===========================================
    I’m a chemist with publications in crystallography. The hypothesis of cracking glaciers with relatively minute increases in CO2 doesn’t seem plausible. It seems more likely that the physics of torque on the ice shelf is responsible. Glacier ice is not a near perfect crystalline structure. It is ice full of crystalline flaws, cracks, crevices and the like. The likely reason the crack formed was from torsional stress, not some heretofore unknown affect on hydrogen bonding by minute changes in CO2. But, like the authors, I have no experimental data to back up the hypothesis, just conjecture.

  54. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    October 11, 2012 at 3:37 am

    “My memory isn’t as good as it once was…”

    That would be yours and Isabella I take it? Embalment will do that.

  55. Its amazing the fracture strength of ice wouldn’t be incredibly well studied under a range of condition after all there is enormous money in potential Arctic development and ice breaking.

  56. There is little doubt that this is part of a well-orchestrated, full-out assault on carbon dioxide. Left wing scientists from every conceivable field are now hypothesizing ways to demonize it. Willing governments and organizations are more than willing to fund the studies, so long as there’s a potentially bad outcome that points to CO2 as a culprit. Sorry to say, but this is the sad state of science in the world right now. I’m convinced that folks 100 or 200 years from now are going to look back on this time in history and give it a label such as The Era of Scientific Folly, or something similar.

  57. I have taken a quick look at the paper, as far as I can see what they have done is run a molecular dynamics simulation on a very small and very simplified system, they justify doing it at all by alluding to the real world, and then the press release makes a huge leap which the results of the paper in no way substantiate.
    It appears that they have modelled a very small cube of pure ice, 44 Angstroms across and containing only 2880 water molecules. They then introduce a ‘crack’, which actually seems to be a cavity in the middle of the system created by removing some water molecules (they don’t say how many). Into this void they then place CO2 molecules. They describe the ratio of CO2 to water molecules as being the ‘concentration’ of CO2, which varies from 0.2 to 2 percent (ie. 6 to 58 CO2 molecules?). My first problem is that this is not really a concentration at all, just a ratio of molecules in the system partitioned into two phases – does this reflect the distribution of CO2 in glacial ice? Secondly there appears to be nothing else in the system, no air, no liquid water, no salts, no lattice defects – again, is this the best representation of reality? This kind of excercise can be legitimate, but on the physical scale of this kind of simulation it is only ever possible to model limited aspects of a real system – for instance, real glacial ice must be full of dirt (significantly affecting its bulk mechanical properties), but the tiniest visible speck of dust would be massively larger than the whole system modelled here!
    The next part of the simulation is to simulate a mechanical load and measure the fracture toughness of the system at various CO2 ‘concentrations’. The results presented (Fig.3) show the modelled toughness with no CO2 is 19.4kPa m^1/2 compared to an experimetal value of 24.5+/-5.3kPa m^1/2. At 0.2% CO2 (2000ppm) there is virtually no difference, about 18kPa m^1/2 – well within experimental variation. At 0.5% CO2 (5000ppm) there is a significant reduction to about 14kPa m^1/2. These are fairly massive CO2 concentrations (and the local concentration is really much higher than the average across the system suggests), although the authors do suggest that there are measured values that justify them.
    I would say that they have observed a mechanism in a model whereby CO2 may promote the propogation of cracks in ice, this can be considered a hypothesis rather than an experimental result (modellers can be rather bad at confusing the terminology) and would require experimental substantiation – which I think would be rather difficult (proving the mechanism, not testing the effect of CO2 on the mechanical properties of ice). The two main flaws in the logic of the press release as I see it are in extrapolating this extremely limited system to a glacier, which is a much more complex system; and that the results shown have any significance at all to a world where atmosperic CO2 concentrations have risen from 280 to 390ppm.

  58. Maybe my reference to Alain Sokal could have been clearer:

    “Sokal is best known for the Sokal Affair, in which he submitted a deliberately absurd article[1] to Social Text, a critical theory journal, and was able to get it published.” (Wikipedia)

    This paper could be in the same category.

  59. see google for right answer: Climate change: The untold MUST READ truth behind the making”
    or:”Defense for Dr. Charles Bolden: empirical evidence that climate change is human CO2″
    THESE ARTICLES FOR DESSIMINATION. JSALDEA12

  60. This paper has a serious intellectual flaw. Because glacial ice is near its melting point, it flows by creep: the movement of defects in the crystal structure. Another mechanism is grain boundary sliding, a strong inverse function of the grain size. Because of this, the build up of stress sufficient to cause cracking is quite difficult.

    This paper is in reality about the crack propagation rate for a given normal stress once cracking has started. This may be affected by CO2 competing for hydrogen bonds. However, I strongly suspect these people have forgotten that the concentration of CO2 is set by the partition coefficient between adsorbed and dissolved molecules.

    Junk science until they have experimental verification. And because that so easy to do, i am highly suspicious they might have already done it and found the theory didn’t work.

    PS I am a materials’ scientist.

  61. @Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    October 11, 2012 at 3:51 am

    responding to
    H.R. says:
    October 11, 2012 at 2:40 am

    You bring up some very good additional points (thanks!) but I was just thinking only about the difference in the number of CO2 molecules available to react with H2O molecules regardles of other conditions. I looked up the minimum number of H2O molecules to form an ice crystal and it’s probably 275.

    http://phys.org/news/2012-09-chemists-smallest-molecules-ice-crystal.html

    Now there’s a whole lotta ice crystals in a glacier (multiplied by at least 275 to get H2O molecules) and there are only 390-something ppm CO2 molecules in the atmosphere available to attack all those ice crystals. If the experiment could be done, I could see throwing 1-2 CO2 molecules at a 275-molecule ice crystal and getting a crack to start. But when one scales up to the number of ice crystals in your average, everyday glacier you would tend to come up short on atmospheric CO2 molecules that would even amount to a hill of beans against all those ice crystals.

    I realize ‘a whole lotta’ and ‘hill of beans’ are not very precise mathematical terms but my guess is the basic relationship holds; what works on one ice crystal won’t work on a glacier because there isn’t anything close to enough atmospheric CO2 to crack up a glacier.

    Just an unsubstantiated opinion from a dumb ol’ engineer, but I think gravity has more to do with glaciers cracking than does CO2.

  62. Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth’s temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.

    I was going to raise this question about ice being a major carbon sink, but I see Ferdinand Engelbeen has answered it above. Thank you. I thought the ocean water absorbed a fair amount of CO2, so removing polar ice would expose the arctic ocean surface directly to the atmosphere. Wouldn’t this increase the amount of CO2 absorbed by the ocean?

  63. I just need to pick apart that 80% reflection claim for the sake of my own sanity.

    If the albedo of the ice caps is 80% and they cover 7% of the surface area of the earth, then they couldn’t possibly reflect more than 5.6% of the total incoming sunlight. Considering that they will never both be fully illuminated at the same time, that 5.6% figure immediately gets halved to 2.8%. Since the maximum angle of incidence on either pole is ~23.5°, that 2.8% gets multiplied by the sine of 23.5° (0.40) to give 1.1% of total incoming solar radiation that gets reflected by the ice caps.

    Clearly, arithmetic and trigonometry aren’t prerequisites to the classes at MIT.

  64. To be picked up by the media and dangerously idiotic politicians as truth in 5….4….3…..2….

  65. I despair that in a world where there are serious problems for probably the majority of the population, that money is spent on such a facile proposition.

  66. Did I miss the bit where they went out and checked the model with Nature? What used to be call ‘experimental observation’?

    /sarc

  67. As if this is claim is not ridiculous enough now we have the larest garbage from AP extremist reporter Seth Borenstein claiming that “experts” say global warming is causing increased Antarctica sea ice. After decades of climate alarmists pushing false claims of global warming causing decreased Antarctica sea ice they now switch gears and claim the exact opposite because their prior claims could not stand up to empirical data showing they didn’t know what they were talking about. What a complete farce!

  68. @Jim Turner says:
    October 11, 2012 at 5:03 am

    I think your post was in queue while I was writing my reply to Ferdinand Englebeen. You said it a lot better than I did. If I had seen your comment, I could of saved myself a whole lotta keystrokes. Nicely done, sir.

  69. I this were true, CO2 would accummulate in the cracks anyway whether 250ppm or 350ppm. A test: take samples of the ice on either side of the crack and into the main body of the ice and compare. Also, initiate a crack in a plaque of ice in a lab vessel, pump varying amounts of CO2 into the vessel, Cool the vessel down and see if it freezes over in comparison to a comparative test with no CO2 added. Shish, that you even need a crack to start with is a confounding issue. The crack got there because of stresses in the ice and progression of the crack is to be expected, especialy if it is at the hinge of a tongue of ice coming from land into the sea. Are we going to use models now exclusively instead of real experiment – if so we can replace physicists with robots.

  70. There are white papers, grey papers, and now puke green papers. HOWEVER! If CO2 proves capable of keeping my drink at the slushy stage, time and money well spent.

  71. “…and then migrate through the ice in a flipping motion along the crack boundary towards the crack tip.”
    I’m sorry, but I keep getting this vision of the poor CO2s screaming their little heads off as they tumble end over end down the face of the ice wall.
    This should be easy to prove; their hapless little bodies will be piled in vast heaps along a line at the bottom of ancient fissures, still clinging to the hydrogen atoms they grabbed futilely on their way down.

  72. Back in the early 1940s, long before CO2 was turned into a criminal molecule, the chemist Primo Levi wrote a little tale called “Story of a Carbon Atom,” while he was detained at Auschwitz.. There is a paragraph in that story where he makes a few observations about CO2, in very different terms than what we are used to today:

    http://www.transitionnetwork.org/sites/default/files/CarbonStoryByPrimoLevi.pdf

    “[…] But there is more and worse, to our shame and that of our art. Carbon dioxide, that is, the aerial form of the carbon of which we have up till now spoken: this gas which constitutes the raw material of life, the permanent store upon which all that grows draws, and the ultimate destiny of all flesh, is not one of the principal components of air but rather a ridiculous remnant, an ‘impurity’, thirty times less abundant than argon, which nobody even notices. The air contains 0.03 percent; if Italy was air, the only Italians fit to build life would be, for example, the fifteen thousand inhabitants of Milazzo in the province of Messina. This, on the human scale, is ironic acrobatics, a juggler’s trick, an incomprehensible display of omnipotence-arrogance, since from this ever renewed ‘impurity’ of the air we come, we animals and we plants, and we the human species, with our four billion discordant opinions, our milleniums of history, our wars and shames, nobility and pride.”

  73. Larry Hamlin says:
    October 11, 2012 at 6:23 am
    As if this is claim is not ridiculous enough now we have the larest garbage from AP extremist reporter Seth Borenstein claiming that “experts” say global warming is causing increased Antarctica sea ice. After decades of climate alarmists pushing false claims of global warming causing decreased Antarctica sea ice they now switch gears and claim the exact opposite because their prior claims could not stand up to empirical data showing they didn’t know what they were talking about. What a complete farce!

    And that should stop them doing so because???? It never stopped them before, but they really, really do think that they have caused sufficent “dumbing down” that we are that stupid to fall for it, without noticing one or two almighty clangers in their argument! ;-)

  74. Alert Alert Alert!, there is a crack in my driveway also. The real alarm should be over the cracking breaking up of science institutions in thje new dark ages of alarmism and bias indulgences paid out.

  75. The well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is causing climate scientists to crack up!

  76. Glaciers are rivers of ice. The amount that calves is based on the flow of that river. If the ice cracks a little quicker at the outflow point that will have very little effect on the rate of flow. The rate of flow is based on the weight of the ice along the river and the incline. Hence, no more ice will be lost into the sea independent of this claimed effect.

  77. They’re taking the piss aren’t they?

    So much rot in one paper. 7% ice cover reflects 80% sunlight ? ( they know what they mean but this phrasing is misleading)

    CO2 a significant atmospheric component. Hard to see a 0.04% of anything as significant.

    Fracturing increases the surface area leading to more rapid melting. Well yes, if you want to be pedantic but if something the size of Manhattan ( the standard measure I understand ) breaks in half the couple of metres of side exposed isn’t a significant increase in area, particularly the bit underwater which is where most of the melting happens anyway.

    And so on and so forth. We must be afraid of Carbon Dioxide at all times. You could almost think the whole thing was political if you didn’t know any better.

  78. @ Geoff Sherrington
    Both authors are from the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. There is a list of the students on their website (surprise!). Assuming that “very foreign” names correspond to foreigners, about 23% of grad students are Chinese, 10% are Arabic, and 2% are Indians. This is better than other schools where 60% – 75% of grad students are foreign. For example, the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department has seemingly following distribution of Post-Docs: 37% Chinese, 9% Arabic, and 9% Indians. Educating foreign students is a fantastic idea; however, practically all foreign grad students in Sciences and Engineering and a large fraction of the undergrads receive funding from the US funding agencies covering 100% of their tuition and living expenses. So, the foreign contingent is educated for free at taxpayer’s expense while children of these taxpayers have to pay in full.

  79. Let’s ignore this badly thought through statement that: “Ice caps and glaciers cover 7% of our planet, greater than the land area of Europe and North America combined [1]. They reflect 80–90% of the solar radiation and trap a large amount of carbon dioxide.” Let’s look at the funding source: Air Force Office of Scientific Research and DoD Presidential Early Career Award in Science & Engineering. Thanks guys, you really care about spending our tax dollars to perform superior and needed research!

  80. garymount says:
    October 11, 2012 at 2:12 am

    E.M.Smith is correct about the increase in quacks:

    “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its preliminary report on North American breeding ducks and habitat, and the population is about 48.6 million compared to 45.6 million last year.

    Obviously CO2 is plant and duck fertilizer.

  81. Did they actually first attempt to prove whether the gases were from the atmosphere or from below? The crack is not consistent with the gas weakening the ice and it breaking as much as it forming a bubble below the ice so it was no longer supported by water and therefore stressed too much to support its own weight. The horizontal crack in the picture is the type you would expect to see if it was storm damage without the compression damage either side.
    Probably they did not look not because research into natural not man made environmental situations is not covered by the fat global warming budgets and would have to be met from the meagre resources available to the plate tectonics and similar departments even after the Russians have found one case of this type of gas source without even looking suggesting it is a common situation.

  82. AlecM says:
    October 11, 2012 at 5:11 am

    This paper has a serious intellectual flaw. Because glacial ice is near its melting point, it flows by creep: the movement of defects in the crystal structure. Another mechanism is grain boundary sliding, a strong inverse function of the grain size. Because of this, the build up of stress sufficient to cause cracking is quite difficult.

    I’m not familiar with the sort of simulation software they’re using, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were simulating a small ice crystal that has no defects, say 100x1000x1000 molecules large. That’s still 100 million molecules, or 300 million atoms, to track.

    If so, this would have little to do with jumbled arrangement of crystals and impurities when the glacier formed, let alone what creep has done to it, nor would it have anything remotely like the torque forces on the full glacier.

    I won’t have time to read the paper, does it describe stuff like the salt and dust content of the ice shelf and their simulation?

  83. Perhaps they really meant to say: ice cover reflects 80% of the light striking its surface. This inability to properly express a simple principal, reflects very badly on their understanding. GK

  84. Sorry I posted it before I had finished and was about to ask if anyone knew if the were any known gas fields in the area.
    While I am about it can anyone answer this question.
    Since it is supposed to be possible to distinguish man made CO2 from natural using carbon 14 does this show an increase that matches the use of fossil fuels or has it more or less stabilised at a given percentage and if so what is that figure? Why I ask is that if it is flattening it would suggest that the natural systems create and use the gas and that man’s input is just one factor which would be treated like the others so the end figure is nearly independent of man’s activity not the panic making unstable addition suggested by climate scientists.

  85. LeeHarvey says:
    October 11, 2012 at 5:24 am

    “If the albedo of the ice caps is 80% and they cover 7% of the surface area of the earth, then they couldn’t possibly reflect more than 5.6% of the total incoming sunlight. Considering that they will never both be fully illuminated at the same time, that 5.6% figure immediately gets halved to 2.8%. Since the maximum angle of incidence on either pole is ~23.5°, that 2.8% gets multiplied by the sine of 23.5° (0.40) to give 1.1% of total incoming solar radiation that gets reflected by the ice caps.”

    We can now go on pondering the effect of clouds.

    http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/cwx/notes/chap08/cloud_lat.html

    “At latitudes above 50N, the annual average cloud cover is about 70%. At the North Pole there is 50% cloudiness in winter and 90% in summer.”
    “In summary, the Earth’s albedo is highest at high latitudes (poleward of ~50deg), because of the higher cloudiness, especially in areas or during seasons where/when less snow and ice cover the surface.”

    Ok, so let’s assume 70% for South pole and 90% for North pole. As the South pole stays ice-covered there’s no effect on albedo there. The effect during North pole summer is diminished by a factor of 10 due to the cloudiness. So even during North Pole summer, only 0.11% of Solar radiation could reach water at the North pole where there was ice in the past.

    Now we need to consider the reflexion of low incident angle light. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have measured it, at least I can’t find it; the waviness influences the absorption; a totally flat surface would reflect totally due to the low angle of the sun. So let’s assume about 90% absorption and we can say that the effect is:
    a maximum of about 0.1% of Solar radiation could be absorbed by North polar sea where there was ice in the past. That’s a Watt a square meter averaged across the globe.

    Of course, this effect is the maximum possible if ALL ice is gone; if only a part is gone, it needs to be put in relation. We have a new minimum of 3 mill km^2 instead of 6 mill km^2 average summer minimum; 6 mill km^2 are about 1.2 % of the surface area of the Earth; 3 mill km^2 difference is 0.6%.

    You initially assumed 3.5 % for one ice cap. (7% for both) But the observed difference during NH summer is only 0.6% so the calculated effect can safely be assumed to be about 6 times weaker.

    We get to:
    a maximum of about 0.017% of Solar radiation could be absorbed by North polar sea where there was ice in the past during NH sea ice minimum. That’s a momentary 1/6th of a Watt/m^2 surplus absorption, averaged across the globe.

  86. Pray tell, what are these authors doing, giving us a sermon about all the ice on the planet the size of Berlin, and other inconsequential factoids; in order to present some atomic Physics about CO2 competing with H2O in ICE crystals. Did they for comparison investigate the disruptive role of H2O molecules in say Dry ice crystals; maybe that’s why we don’t get CO2 snow at the South pole; all that H2O molecules weakens the dry ice crystals at grain boundaries, so they fall apart.

    Now maybe this atomic physics modelling is all very interesting, especially if it can get you grant money from the tax payers; but what effect did it have in geologic times in preventing the ice ages from happening.

    I just tried exhaling onto the ice tray in my frig, and so far none of the cubes has fallen apart. Should be good when my evening Sangria time comes around.

  87. “””””…..Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth’s temperature. …..”””””

    Well I have never been anywhere near MIT, but even I know that this statement is pure bullsh*t.

    Just for starters, 1362 W/m^2 arrive at the earth from the sun, and about 1000 W/m^2 arrives at the surface, about 70% of which is the oceans.

    So there is no way in hell, that ANYTHING is reflecting 80% of the sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere.

    As for ice, even at its finest, ice does not reflect 80% of visible light. Ice which may have started off as snow, does very little reflecting, but a lot of scattering at first, and a good deasl of the light propagates into the interstices between the snow crystals, so that after just a few hours of exposure, the surfaces have melted, creating optically transparent facets, which will transmit around 97-98% of incident sunlight, and once inside, the ice, it is largely trapped by Total Internal reflection. Consequently the apparent “reflectance” of snow can drop below 40% in just a few hours after deposition.

    And of course to be pedantic, “light” rays do NOT enter the earth atmosphere; EM Radiation that is visible does enter the earth’s atmosphere, but “light” exists only in our eyes and brain; which is why we quantify it in Lumens and related units, rather than Joules, which we use for energy.

    We get just as much light from the sun, as we do heat; namely NONE. We make ALL of our heat here on earth, and we make ALL of our light, in our brain.

  88. I remember reading an item on BBC Red Button a while ago that ‘scientists say that the ice is just sliding off Antarctica and they do not know why nor what this will mean for sea levels.’ The implication is obvious but I thought advancing glaciers accounted for that very nicely. Would this to be the latest attempt to use the inconvenient fact that the ice at the south pole appears to be increasing for their own ends?

  89. Maybe there’s a giant CO2 “laser” mounted on the moon, pointed directly at the polar ice…

    pew pew pew!!!

  90. Ice above a threshold pressure flows like an extremely slow and viscous liquid. Glaciers consist of a brittle surface layer, above a flowing plastic layer once the weight of ice above is enough. When a glacier flows out over water, the lower parts are at high pressure and still plastic. As the ice melts and gets thinner, the thickness of the brittle layer remains constant while the plastic layer thins, until eventually the plastic layer reduces to zero, and the tip of the ice shelf breaks off.

    If this breakage were to happen a few hours earlier, it would make no difference to anything. The flow of glaciers is determined primarily by what goes on in a layer where cracks do not form anyway, so a study of cracks is irrelevant.

  91. Cargosquid says:
    October 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm
    “The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate,”

    BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m not a scientist. I don’t even have a degree. But I know that if I had THAT statement on any science paper during my years in HIGH SCHOOL, I’d get a failing grade.
    And, as a non-credentialed man….what exactly is the energy being used to break those hydrogen bonds in favor of CO2……And wouldn’t the hydrogen be bonding with the Oxygen in the CO2? And isn’t that also a hydrogen bond…and where does the carbon fit in during all this new “bonding?” Do we now have CH2O2? CH2O? What molecule is being formed?

    =======================================================================
    I think you misunderstand what a hydrogen bond is. It’s not a chemical bond where atoms are bound to each other by sharing electrons and so form a molecule. It is more like a weak magnetic attraction of the slightly positive hydrogen atoms in H2O to another slightly negative atom. It doesn’t form a new molecule but loosely links molecules together. Both molecules remain intact and unchanged but they are loosely “stuck” to each other. A water molecule is “V” shaped with the Oxygen at the bottom of the “V” and the Hydrogen at the tips. The more heat (energy) there is, the faster the molecules of H2O will move around and bounce off each other. As the heat is removed the molecules slow down and get closer. The water becomes denser. All compounds will do this but with water, once you get to 32*F, the hydrogen bonds begin to form between the Hydrogen of one molecule and the Oxygen of others. Because of the “V” shape of a H2O molecule a crystal structure is formed (ice) that is actually less dense than liquid H2O. That’s why ice floats. When other liquids reach their freezing point and become a solid, they sink because they remain denser than the liquid.
    A CO2 molecule is not “V” shaped but is more in a line. O-C-O. What this paper seems to be claiming is that the Hydrogen bond that links H2O to H2O molecules together to form ice is being interfered with by the Oxygen in CO2.

  92. Re Bob and Jim Turner

    You have raised the most important issues with this paper. The study looked at pure water Xtals, and this is unlikley to be representative of how the CO2 disruption will occur in actual Xtals that are not from pure water. That and the level of CO2 that they used pretty much exclude it from real life simulations. It is an interesting paper but certainly not a Nobel Prize winner that has anything to do with actual ice life cycle in the cryosphere. I would not expect it to get too much attention by serious AGW researchers.

  93. “They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.”

    Wondering if melted water would not capture more CO2 then ice does?

  94. The press releases says: “Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere”.

    The abstract says: “Ice caps and glaciers cover 7% of our planet, greater than the land area of Europe and North America combined [1]. They reflect 80–90% of the solar radiation”.

    There is a big difference. The above statement in the press release is nonsense, as many have pointed out. The statement in the abstract is different. “They reflect 80-90%”, they being the ice caps and glaciers. Of the sunlight that hits ice and glaciers, 80-90% is reflected and 10-20% is being absorbed. This could be true.

    It seems that the writter of the press release did not read the abstract that well.

  95. So, dissolved CO2 would decease the surface tension of water and thus decrease the latent heat of evaporation and thus cause greater evaporation for a given radiation power?

  96. Rattus Norvegicus said on October 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm:

    I think they call this hypothesis generation….

    Note to self:
    Add to personal thesaurus:
    Clump generated by cat as found in litter box: hypothesis

  97. Ice cracks when its put under stress. I’m willing to bet the effect of the stress that cracks the ice in the case of the Pine Island Glacier and others is many orders of magnitude greater than any “excess CO2″ effect.

  98. I think this blog is reasonably accurate. Computer simulations are responsible for much of our knowledge of earth’s systems today because it is simply not possible to consider all of the processes which are affecting our planets systems. In this case, the effect of CO2 cannot be experimented on to the macro-scale of Ice caps and therefore an attempt to do so would be faulty. We are therefore left with hypothesizing a process using computer simulations and concluding beyond reasonable doubt that CO2 effects Hydrogen bonds in the ice.

  99. Icemania says:
    October 12, 2012 at 4:17 am
    I think this blog is reasonably accurate.
    ——————————————————-
    I think not Icemania. It has some major errors:
    1) “ice caps and glaciers … are responsible for reflecting 80 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth’s temperature.”
    nonsense
    2) “They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.”
    wrong, the quantity of CO2 that dissolves into water is far greater that the CO2 captured in ice. the reference cited says a different thing: “the Arctic accounts for 10–15% of the earth’s carbon sink ” which is not in the ice in the Arctic.
    3) what concentrations of CO2 were used in the model and what was the observed difference in model? Jim Turner made it very clearly in his post above:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/10/untested-claim-increased-co2-helps-glacier-ice-to-crack/#comment-1106791

    4) what validation was done for the model? None.
    5) “well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2)”
    It starts with a lie. CO2 is not excessive in our atmosphere. Reducing the CO2 level from now to any level would mean to reduce the biosphere. So excessive for whom?

    The blog is not accurate in my eyes, is CAGW-propaganda.
    ———————————————————-
    R. Shearer says:
    October 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    This could explain why ice core analysis for CO2 is biased low an underestimates historical CO2 levels.
    ——————————————–
    Very interesting point R. Shearer. Jaworowsky illustrated the problems with using ice core bubles as proxy for CO2 concentration at the time, and this links to his study.
    As Ferdinand said a couple of posts below – would the CO2 not tend to run towards the minimum concentration? We know the “outside of the glacier”=the atmosphere having great CO2 variations. Question is how the equilibrium between the CO2 “from inside” and the CO2 “outside” is done, if the difficulty or the easiness to migrate in and out are the same.

    As for the CAGW-theorists modelling is true data, they will certainly take these results and incorporate in the future models and find even more dramatic effects. “It is worse then we thought” … in their future modelled sim-world.

  100. Ice caps and glaciers cover 7% of our planet, greater than the land area of Europe and North America combined [1]. They reflect 80–90% of the solar radiation and trap a large
    amount of carbon dioxide.

    This seems to say the 80-90% of the radiation that hits icecaps and glaciers gets reflected. But the press release seems to say that thanks to them 80-90% of the radiation that hits the earth gets reflected!

    More like a hype release.

    Anyway, how do glaciers trap so much CO2? They entrain air bubbles that contain CO2, but then they are entraining N2 and O2 along with the CO2, so it’s not obvious there’s a differential effect.

    In fact, if the ice all evaporated, wouldn’t it be releasing ancient N2 and O2 in greater proportions, relative to present levels, than CO2? Wouldn’t this reduce atmospheric CO2 ppm?

  101. Lars P. says:
    October 12, 2012 at 10:08 am
    4) what validation was done for the model? None.
    ==============================================================
    I was just watching something on The History Channel about locomotives. It had a segment about crash research. They use computer models to lessen the damage and danger of locomotive crashes. The particular segment i’m referring to had to do with a design feature the keep the front coupler from riding up and into the cab of another engine in a head on crash. The point is that after the design was made on a computer model, they actually went out and crashed a few to see if the models reflected reality. We know Hansen’s and Mann’s models don’t reflect reality. It doesn’t sound like this one will reflect the real world either.

  102. Gunga Din says:
    October 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    I was just watching something on The History Channel about locomotives. It had a segment about crash research. They use computer models to lessen the damage and danger of locomotive crashes. The particular segment i’m referring to had to do with a design feature the keep the front coupler from riding up and into the cab of another engine in a head on crash. The point is that after the design was made on a computer model, they actually went out and crashed a few to see if the models reflected reality. We know Hansen’s and Mann’s models don’t reflect reality. It doesn’t sound like this one will reflect the real world either.
    —————————————————————
    Yes, exactly Gunga Din. That was engineering and they had to know if their model reflects reality.
    Total different situation here. There is no interest to know if the models reflect reality. The “result” is already available and can be used for propaganda. All that can happen now is that reality maybe invalidates the model. So what use to test it? And then they use model over model pyramids – as this model result goes into the next model as “input variable”:
    ” It could be instrumental for further studies of ice fracture in various chemical environments and may be scaled up by incorporating it into models of glacier dynamics.”
    Somebody said so pertinently: its models all the way down…

  103. I speculate, but I guess what happened went something like this
    1. Department has just invested in a computer package for simulating chemical processes at the tens of molecule scale. A graduate student is told to get familiar with the programme which he does by setting up a toy system comprising a small block of frozen water with a cavity in it.
    2. He inputs (after all it is just a computer programme) a few molecules of various gases, one of which is CO2, into this cavity to see what the programme does.
    3. He is limited to high concentrations because the computational load means there can only be a few ice molecules in this toy system.
    4. He notes that some of the CO2 molecules migrate off to the corners of the cavity (in the program) and get to work loosening hydrogen ion bonds.
    5. He asks his supervisor if this is worth writing up for a journal.
    6. His supervisor recognises that it is just a handle-turning exercise with a brought in computer package so little of genuine novelty.
    7. But then he has a bright idea – he has noted how easy it is to get noticed if you hitch your wagon to climate, and CO2 and ice have definitely got something to do with climate.
    8. It’s not his field so he doesn’t know quite what, but not to worry because a moment’s googling leads him to ice sheets and cracks so there’s his opening – the student’s hand cranking of the computer package could after all just about justify a place in the Applied Physics section of the Journal. After all, haven’t they just applied a model to a real system.
    9. He instructs his student to squeeze in some token references to climate and ice which his student complies with.
    10. They’re not prominent enough so they move the climate link to the beginning of the abstract even though it is screamingly obvious that the simulations have only the most tenuous connection with macroscale reality. They get it a little bit wrong – albedos and percentages and stuff – but not to worry, none of the Journal readership are familiar with the details.
    11. And now supervisor and student sit back and wait for the kudos to come rolling in – they’ve helped to save the planet, and they can chalk up a paper to boost the statistics for the next departmental review.

  104. Hu McCulloch says:
    October 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    In fact, if the ice all evaporated, wouldn’t it be releasing ancient N2 and O2 in greater proportions, relative to present levels, than CO2? Wouldn’t this reduce atmospheric CO2 ppm?

    As said before, some 3% of the ice sheets is air, which contains 180-300 ppmv CO2. If it was all released at once, the current atmosphere would see a reduction of less than 1 ppmv CO2…

    I suppose that they mixed the polar sinking waters (THC) as CO2 sink with the properties of ice, which isn’t selective for CO2…

    • Dwayne Oxford says:
      October 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      Wonder why they never checked CO2 levels in the air bubbles trapped in amber? Afraid to?

      http://minerals.cr.usgs.gov/gips/na/amber.html

      Well, this is a different set of “they”, but this would be worth pushing for, indeed. “What do amber bubbles say about CO2 levels?” is a questions worth asking and answering.

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