The media spin is in full wash mode over this recent paper studying a small section of Greenland. WUWT Reader “non nomen” writes in Tips and Notes:
“Sustained mass loss of the northeast Greenland ice sheet triggered by regional warming”
Propaganda? Wishful thinking? Reality?
Have a look at some media headlines published about this paper:
- Greenland’s Ice Loss Triples and Raises Global Warming Awareness
- Fears of faster rising global sea levels as ‘stable’ Greenland ice sheet starts to melt
- Greenland’s ice loss nearly tripled in a decade USA TODAY A formerly stable part of Greenland’s ice sheet in the northeast has been losing ice at an accelerating rate.
- Regional warming triggers sustained mass loss in Northeast Greenland ice sheet
- Greenland Ice Sheet Loses Its Last Grip
Some are conflating regional warming with global warming, because, you know, everything is about global warming. But imagine if I used the regional cooling in the southeastern United States to make a claim about that countering “global” warming. Our friends would have a cow. Observe how the media claims fall apart on examination of the paper.
The Hockey Schtick writes:
Media claims that “Greenland’s ice loss has tripled in a decade” are CAGW propaganda
The CAGW alarmist media is awash today with claims based on a paper published in Nature Climate Change that “Greenland’s ice loss has nearly tripled in a decade” and “the Greenland ice sheet has lost it’s last grip.” As usual, the paper has been hyped by the media to portray impending doom, while examination of the actual scientific paper reveals very little of concern.
Figure 1a shows the tiny region of Greenland that the paper studied, with a blowup of this region in figure 2 below.
Figure 1: Changes in surface elevations obtained using ICESat, ATM, LVIS and ENVISAT data (Supplementary Section 1.0).
a–c, Ice surface elevation change rates in m yr−1 from April 2003 to April 2006 (a), April 2006 to April 2009 (b) and April 2009 to April 2012 (c).
The authors find an increase in the natural glacier calving process in this regional, relatively tiny portion of the Greenland ice sheet. According to the authors, this is due to regional warming found at the site “HKH” marked by an “X” in fig. 2a below. The key word here is regional, which indicates these processes are localized and not characteristic of global warming. In fact, the authors also looked at another nearby site “DH” marked by an “X” in fig. 2a below and found that this site cooled over the past decade.
Examination of Figure 2 from the below reveals that over the past 34 years 1978-2012:
- Annual sea surface temperature anomaly has cooled at both sites DH and HKH
- June-August summer temperatures warmed at site HGH but cooled at site DH, and are only about 2C above the freezing point
- Annual air temperatures at both sites increased, but are about 10 degrees cooler than the freezing point
These localized, regional changes were not predicted by climate models and are not supportive of the CAGW meme, and in fact suggest that other processes are responsible. For example, geothermal sources have recently been discovered under the Greenland ice sheet, which create lakes under the ice sheet and lubricate the natural slide to calving in the ocean. In addition, storm activity and winds largely control Arctic sea ice, which can act as an impediment to glacier calving.
Figure 2: Surface speed, mass loss rates and climate data.
I can see how science challenged journalists might get the idea the study is an indicator of “global” warming (even though nearby there’s that pesky regional cooling) by just reading the abstract:
Sustained mass loss of the northeast Greenland ice sheet triggered by regional warming
The Greenland ice sheet has been one of the largest contributors to global sea-level rise over the past 20 years, accounting for 0.5 mm yr−1 of a total of 3.2 mm yr−1. A significant portion of this contribution is associated with the speed-up of an increased number of glaciers in southeast and northwest Greenland. Here, we show that the northeast Greenland ice stream, which extends more than 600 km into the interior of the ice sheet, is now undergoing sustained dynamic thinning, linked to regional warming, after more than a quarter of a century of stability. This sector of the Greenland ice sheet is of particular interest, because the drainage basin area covers 16% of the ice sheet (twice that of Jakobshavn Isbræ) and numerical model predictions suggest no significant mass loss for this sector, leading to an under-estimation of future global sea-level rise. The geometry of the bedrock and monotonic trend in glacier speed-up and mass loss suggests that dynamic drawdown of ice in this region will continue in the near future.
The word “global” is used twice, even though this tiny area likely contributes only a small fraction of global SLR. A better choice would be to write a paper about why this area is so sensitive, in spite of the fact that nearby there’s a regional cooling.