Just prior to Copenhagen, there was a flurry of news stories about Greenland melt accelerating and sea level rising up to seven meters, like this one from Spiegel.
A Warming Arctic
Greenland’s Ice Sheet Melting Faster than Ever
By Christoph Seidler
Everyone knows that the ice sheet on Greenland is melting. But new research shows it is disappearing much faster than previously thought. The findings could mean that ocean levels are also rising more quickly.
As a corollary, some climatologists have speculated (as recently as this week) that cold water pouring into the North Atlantic from Greenland melt will cause the Gulf Stream to collapse and an ice age to set in across Europe.
‘Glaciers on Snowdon’ warning by climate expert
THIS winter’s prolonged cold spell could be a taste of things to come for Wales – with glaciers a possibility within 40 years. That’s the chilly message from a leading Welsh climate expert who has warned that global warming could paradoxically trigger a collapse in temperatures in western Europe.
It is simple enough to show how unlikely these claims are. If the Greenland ice sheet was melting at an accelerated rate and pouring cold water into the North Atlantic, we would necessarily see two side effects:
- Increased rate of sea level rise
- Cold water around Greenland
In fact, we see neither of these things happening. Over the last four years sea level rise has slowed, and over the last fifteen years sea level has been rising at an average of only 32cm per century. This is an order of magnitude less than the predictions of alarmists.
The Spiegel article further claims:
In the period between 2000 and 2008, the dwindling glaciers have been responsible for the sea level rising by an average of about half a millimeter per year. However, during the last three years of observation, the value rose to 0.75 millimeters per year. According to the researchers, these results could indicate that the sheet of ice is melting at an accelerated rate.
These claims are not supported by the University of Colorado data. Since 1900, sea level has been rising at about 20cm per century, and hasn’t changed much recently – as seen in the graph below.
Is there evidence of cold water around Greenland pouring into the North Atlantic? No, quite the opposite. Sea Surface Temperatures around Greenland have running consistently above normal. Below are SST maps for the end of July (peak melt season) for 2007-2009. Maps from Unisys.
How about winter? Same story – warmer than normal temperatures around Greenland at the end of December 2007-2009.
Even if all this speculation was true and the Gulf Stream did slow down and colder weather started to set in – Greenland would stop melting, causing the whole process to reverse. In other words, don’t book any glacier climbing vacations in Wales quite yet.
h/t to Steve Goddard