# On Being the Wrong Size

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

This topic is a particular peeve of mine, so I hope I will be forgiven if I wax wroth.

There is a most marvelous piece of technology called the GRACE satellites, which stands for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. It is composed of two satellites flying in formation. Measuring the distance between the two satellites to the nearest micron (a hundredth of the width of a hair) allows us to calculate the weight of things on the earth very accurately.

One of the things that the GRACE satellites have allowed us to calculate is the ice loss from the Greenland Ice Cap. There is a new article about the Greenland results called Weighing Greenland.

Figure 1. The two GRACE satellites flying in tandem, and constantly measuring the distance between them.

So, what’s not to like about the article?

Well, the article opens by saying:

Scott Luthcke weighs Greenland — every 10 days. And the island has been losing weight, an average of 183 gigatons (or 200 cubic kilometers) — in ice — annually during the past six years. That’s one third the volume of water in Lake Erie every year. Greenland’s shrinking ice sheet offers some of the most powerful evidence of global warming.

Now, that sounds pretty scary, it’s losing a third of the volume of Lake Erie every year. Can’t have that.

But what does that volume, a third of Lake Erie, really mean? We could also say that it’s 80 million Olympic swimming pools, or 400 times the volume of Sydney Harbor, or about the same volume as the known world oil reserves. Or we could say the ice loss is 550 times the weight of all humans on the Earth, or the weight of 31,000 Great Pyramids … but we’re getting no closer to understanding what that ice loss means.

To understand what it means, there is only one thing to which we should compare the ice loss, and that is the ice volume of the Greenland Ice Cap itself. So how many cubic kilometres of ice are sitting up there on Greenland?

My favorite reference for these kinds of questions is the Physics Factbook, because rather than give just one number, they give a variety of answers from different authors. In this case I went to the page on Polar Ice Caps. It gives the following answers:

Spaulding & Markowitz, Heath Earth Science. Heath, 1994: 195. says less than 5.1 million cubic kilometres (often written as “km^3”).

“Greenland.” World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, 1999: 325 says 2.8 million km^3.

Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World. US Geological Survey (USGS) says 2.6 million km^3.

Schultz, Gwen. Ice Age Lost. 1974. 232, 75. also says 2.6 million km^3.

Denmark/Greenland. Greenland Tourism. Danish Tourist Board says less than 5.5 million km^3.

Which of these should we choose? Well, the two larger figures both say “less than”, so they are upper limits. The Physics Factbook says “From my research, I have found different values for the volume of the polar ice caps. … For Greenland, it is approximately 3,000,000 km^3.” Of course, we would have to say that there is an error in that figure, likely on the order of ± 0.4 million km^3 or so.

So now we have something to which we can compare our one-third of Lake Erie or 400 Sidney Harbors or 550 times the weight of the global population. And when we do so, we find that the annual loss is around 200 km^3 lost annually out of some 3,000,000 km^3 total. This means that Greenland is losing about 0.007% of its total mass every year … seven thousandths of one percent lost annually, be still, my beating heart …

And if that terrifying rate of loss continues unabated, of course, it will all be gone in a mere 15,000 years.

That’s my pet peeve, that numbers are being presented in the most frightening way possible. The loss of 200 km^3 of ice per year is not “some of the most powerful evidence of global warming”, that’s hyperbole. It is a trivial change in a huge block of ice.

And what about the errors in the measurements? We know that the error in the Greenland Ice Cap is on the order of 0.4 million km^3. How about the error in the GRACE measurements? This reference indicates that there is about a ± 10% error in the GRACE Greenland estimates. How does that affect our numbers?

Well, if we take the small estimate of ice cap volume, and the large estimate of loss, we get 220 km^3 lost annually / 2,600,000 km^3 total. This is an annual loss of 0.008%, and a time to total loss of 12,000 years.

Going the other way, we get 180 km^3 lost annually / 3,400,000 km^3 total. This is an annual loss of 0.005%, and a time to total loss of 19,000 years.

It is always important to include the errors in the calculation, to see if they make a significant difference in the result. In this case they happen to not make much difference, but each case is different.

That’s what angrifies my blood mightily, meaningless numbers with no errors presented for maximum shock value. Looking at the real measure, we find that Greenland is losing around 0.005% — 0.008% of its ice annually, and if that rate continues, since this is May 23rd, 2010, the Greenland Ice Cap will disappear entirely somewhere between the year 14010 and the year 21010 … on May 23rd …

So the next time you read something that breathlessly says …

“If this activity in northwest Greenland continues and really accelerates some of the major glaciers in the area — like the Humboldt Glacier and the Peterman Glacier — Greenland’s total ice loss could easily be increased by an additional 50 to 100 cubic kilometers (12 to 24 cubic miles) within a few years”

… you can say “Well, if it does increase by the larger estimate of 100 cubic km per year, and that’s a big if since the scientists are just guessing, that would increase the loss from 0.007% per year to around 0.010% per year, meaning that the Greenland Ice Cap would only last until May 23rd, 12010.”

Finally, the original article that got my blood boiling finishes as follows:

The good news for Luthcke is that a separate team using an entirely different method has come up with measurements of Greenland’s melting ice that, he says, are almost identical to his GRACE data. The bad news, of course, is that both sets of measurements make it all the more certain that Greenland’s ice is melting faster than anyone expected.

Oh, please, spare me. As the article points out, we’ve only been measuring Greenland ice using the GRACE satellites for six years now. How could anyone have “expected” anything? What, were they expecting a loss of 0.003% or something? And how is a Greenland ice loss of seven thousandths of one percent per year “bad news”? Grrrr …

I’ll stop here, as I can feel my blood pressure rising again. And as this is a family blog, I don’t want to revert to being the un-reformed cowboy I was in my youth, because if I did I’d start needlessly but imaginatively and loudly speculating on the ancestry, personal habits, and sexual malpractices of the author of said article … instead, I’m going to go drink a Corona beer and reflect on the strange vagaries of human beings, who always seem to want to read “bad news”.

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May 23, 2010 12:57 am

Some time ago I did a graph of the Greenland’s temperature anomalies (ref 1950)
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC10.htm

Geoff Shorten
May 23, 2010 12:58 am

Willis, the paragraph beginning with ‘That’s my pet peeve’ should have 200 km^3 rather than 200 tonnes I think.

James Allison
May 23, 2010 1:02 am

Hi Willis. Corona is good or maybe a Stella but either choice needs the little slice of lemon squeezed into the bottle neck.

Julian Braggins
May 23, 2010 1:03 am

Good to see things put in proper perspective. I think there is a typo in the paragraph opposite “Lukewarmers” in the r/h column, should be 200 km^3, not 200 tonnes ?

May 23, 2010 1:06 am

Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure…
Make me want to call for a global day of OooooooooOOOooooooo[!]
This article, like many on WUWT, is exceptional educational material for our kids, that they might see through the #AGW #AGWC farce.
Ignorance breeds fear, understanding breeds confidence.
and for posting it Anthony!
Going to RT with #AGWC hashtag…!

Andrew
May 23, 2010 1:07 am

Good discussion of the problems that a lack of context often causes in the climate change debate. Most journalists and politicians wouldn’t know an order of magnitude if it hit them in the head.
For correctness though –
“The loss of 200 tonnes of ice per year…” should read “The loss of 200 gigatonnes of ice per year…”

Patrik
May 23, 2010 1:12 am

Hear, hear, Will!
What you write here actually needs to be repeated time and time again.
A few months ago I asked on RealClimate how come they where worried about ice loss, since all available figures, trends etc. tell us that it will take 10-20 000 years before all ice on earth has melted.
Of course it is, if you want to live your life in fear. 🙂

Al Gore's Holy Hologram
May 23, 2010 1:16 am

What about the garbage going around for the last 15 years that the Amazon is losing a football pitch worth of trees every second? At that rate the jungle would have gone years ago but it’s still there in pretty good shape.

Capn Jack
May 23, 2010 1:18 am

Willis, I suggest a lemon twist in the neck.
No point getting all ugly and pissed, over a melting ice block.
Now if it was the ice block keeping the corona kool in the esky, that is something worth real emotion. But it’s not, Greenland has melted before, long before Gracie.
(I don’t know if you heard, but Santas homes was gonna be a canoe about now, but it’s not).
Cheers. 😉

Evan Jones
Editor
May 23, 2010 1:22 am

Yeah, they used to tell us in hushed voices that the Amazon rain forest was being destroyed at the rate of the area of Rhode Island every year.

Chris
May 23, 2010 1:30 am

Human beings always want to read ‘ bad news’. Absolutely. A few years ago a British TV news reporter complained that there was never any ‘good news’ on TV. There was a roar of protest from the media. Apparently ‘good news’ is not news!

vigilantfish
May 23, 2010 1:30 am

I wish my fits of spleen were as entertaining and informative as yours, Willis. Thanks for doing the number crunching and giving us some perspective on this. Of course, one wonders how long Greenland will continue to lose ice mass, and whether a reversal of trends would be seen as “good.”

spangled drongo
May 23, 2010 1:36 am

Willis
Thanks for pointing out the GRACE error bars. Always wondered.
If that is the case how accurate is satellite SLR measurement do you think?

toby
May 23, 2010 1:39 am

Of course it is only six years of evidence, but taken with all the other peices of evidence, it IS bad news. Like this:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/abs/nature09043.html

Ian H
May 23, 2010 1:40 am

You might want to fix the error before everyone uses it as an excuse to jump all over you.
A cubic kilometre weighs a lot more than a tonne. A cubic metre of water weighs a tonne.
Ice is a little less dense, but a cubic kilometre of ice would weigh just a tad less than a billion tonnes.
Oops.

May 23, 2010 1:40 am

Temperature record from Greenland:
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=431042500000&data_set=1&num_neighbors=5
Station composite from all Greenland stations:
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/icrutem3_300-340E_55-85N_na.png
There really was 15-year warming (which leveled in the meantime), but there was exactly the same warming in 1910-1945 and present temperatures are on the same level as in 40ties. Typical that such graph is NEVER presented in all those catastrophic visions about Greenland.

tty
May 23, 2010 1:45 am

In any case that 10% error estimate is wildly optimistic. The problem is that to estimate the ice loss you also have to be able to estimate the vertical movement of the rock bed beneath the ice. Conservatively estimating that the rock is three times denser than ice that error estimate means that the vertical movement of the glacier bed has to be exact to within 3 millimeters/year, and even that only if there are no other sources of error.
Since the isostatic movement of the glacier bed is modelled based on a very few GPS-measured points beyond the edge of the ice cap, mostly in southern Greenland, and that there is also evidence of active tectonics under the ice in northern Greenland that error estimate is completely unrealistic.

David C
May 23, 2010 1:46 am

Good piece Willis, but I think you have a typo – 200 tons for 200 cubic km.

May 23, 2010 1:48 am

Dont want to be the first to ask when you are having your seniors moment but …
“That’s my pet peeve, that numbers are being presented in the most frightening way possible. The loss of 200 tonnes of ice per year is not “some of the most powerful evidence of global warming”, that’s hyperbole. It is a trivial change in a huge block of ice.”
Shouldnt that be 200 km^3 ?

Jerry
May 23, 2010 1:56 am

Willis said

The loss of 200 tonnes of ice per year is not “some of the most powerful evidence of global warming”, that’s hyperbole. It is a trivial change in a huge block of ice.

In the article you talked about 200 cubic kilometres. As far as I recall a cubic km of ice weighs a bit more than a tonne. Perhaps the cubic km or the tonne figure are wrong?

Spector
May 23, 2010 1:56 am

From my grade-school days, I seem to remember noticing several occasions that first-grade boys who saw water leaking out of the sprinkler system valve-box would be worried that this seeping flow would eventually flood the world.

Ulric Lyons
May 23, 2010 1:59 am

When can we start farming there again? best to get in quick, as a good thing never lasts forever.

Editor
May 23, 2010 2:00 am

I wonder how much of this is lost by calving of icebergs, which would perhaps then be ‘instantly’ lost from the icecap mass once they are a certain distance from the coast, and how much is from surface and peripheral ‘melt’.
Great stuff Willis. I like reading things that make me think.

DavidB
May 23, 2010 2:01 am

The most useful way of indicating the importance of the ice melt would be to say what effect it has on sea level. Taking a rough value of 350 million square km for the sea surface of the earth, 200 cubic km would be spread very thin.

Editor
May 23, 2010 2:07 am

Inspiring – a great post Willis. See if I can send you something.

Johan van der Laan
May 23, 2010 2:11 am

First, thanks, Anthony for the great blog! Here in Holland most people are brainwashed by the AGW-politicians, AGW-journalists’ and AGW-managers. It’s a relief to folllow your blog, and the comments of your readers.
I would like to make some simple comments about the melting of the Greenland Iceshield in ‘presentday’s worldclimate’.
Maybe it’s trivial, but anyway.
I’m always very suprised when the icemelting of Greenland is used as THE argument by the Gore adepts to prove AGW.
I think, on the contrary, that it would be very weird if Greenland didn’t melt. Regions on the SAME latitude, like Finland, Siberia or Alaska have lost their iceshield many thousand years ago because of their continental climate (hot in the summerseason).
Greenland hastens after because of its surrounding seaclimate (cool summers), but will ultimately also lose most of its ice remnants of the glacial iceshield, if we stay in the interglacial era long enough. Its to easy to blame AGW for the melting ,its just postponed melting because of Greenlands cool seaclimate at its shores. Such an icy spot that far from the real pole is doomed to melt away. Nothing special. Only the speed of the melting will vary eventually with cold and warm periods, like the Little Iceage or the Medieval Warm Period. Probably is the melting on the peninsula of West Antarctica of the same order (also about 30 degrees from the real pole and in ‘seaclimate’.
As a consequence sealevel will rise a few inches this century. Again, nothing special.

STEPHEN PARKERuk
May 23, 2010 2:12 am

i have told them a million times not to exaggerate!

anna v
May 23, 2010 2:26 am

Some people say we are overdue the onset of the next ice age, some say the slide has already started, looking at something like this :
and some think there may be some hundreds of years till the next one.
I have found the animation provided by Anthony very instructive. The only true climate prophecy is that an ice age will come. Certainly before the next ten thousand years.
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/noaa_gisp2_icecore_anim3.gif
So not to worry about Greenland, it will “soon” get its ice back with a vengeance on all.

Bruce of Newcastle
May 23, 2010 2:27 am

Usually the SI unit is the elephant or sometimes the blue whale. So melting roughly 36 billion elephants or 1.2 billion blue whales per year give or take. Or about 350 billion poley bears, fits better with Greenland.
On this topic I was amused when New Scientist reported the icebergs are melting oh no sea level will rise by 0.046mm article a couple of weeks ago. They kept the alarmist flavour but carefully left out the 46 microns figure.

Evelyn
May 23, 2010 2:39 am

And if that is not enough, we’re told that Greenland is rising because the ice no longer holds it down as it’s melting away.
See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100518/sc_livescience/greenlandrisingrapidlyasicemelts

wayne
May 23, 2010 2:42 am

Thanks Willis for highlighting what alarmists and journals are doing with scale and the units. You have extracted the kind of real facts that someone, anyone, can wrap their mind around.
It’s a shame that that type of coercion must be applied to every single article and published data from supposedly scientific journals but it has become a necessity. Get out the calculator and conversion tables and put the figures into something your mind can actually visualize realistically.

dscott
May 23, 2010 2:47 am

Let’s not forget the underlying premise of the entire article: Extrapolation Fallacy. The author of the article assumes the cause will continue indefinitely by assigning an assumption of the presumed cause – AGW. AGW itself being based on another premise called Correlation Fallacy over an arbitrary period of time cherry picked to give the impression of rising in tandem of temperatures and CO2 ppm . Of course temperature as a measure of heat is also another fallacy since total heat is measured in Btu/# or Joules (for you metric fans) not in degrees F or C which only measures sensible heat. You can add heat to boil water all day long at 14.7 #/in^2 (1 bar or 1000 millibars) but you will never see a temp above 212F (100C).

May 23, 2010 2:50 am

Conserning ice core data and temperature history. How is years or decades of icemelting readable in the ice core data? My persupmtion is that if the ice surface melts and declines under periods..how is that readable and traceble in the icecoredata?
So far i found no one who seems to be able to answer this question. This can not possible be an neglected aspect??? The years of vanished and melted icecovers? How do the ice cores readings fill in the blancs??

May 23, 2010 2:51 am

Ah, but what you forget is that they’ll claim that we are about to reach a tipping point and the whole lot will vanish in the blink of an eye.
No one can predict anything about that tipping point though, which is why they are such wonderful things. Nebulous, unprovable and beautifully scary.

wayne
May 23, 2010 3:05 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:43 am
[…] tty, the measurement by the GRACE satellites is not measuring the height of the ice and estimating the ice loss from that. It is measuring the weight of the ice. As such, the isostatic rebound doesn’t affect the answer, because although the underlying rock moves vertically, the weight of it doesn’t change.
Now Willis, I’m not sure I buy that 100%. The vertical aspect I will agree, but the general statement of mass I have a problem. From what I have gathered it measures the geometric gravitational field variances and from that infers mass changes, but an inference of mass can also impersonate a change in mantle/magma density, tectonic displacements, etc. I don’t read that as a firm mass variance reading unless there is some other supporting data to prove that all of the other factors are actually absent. That is exactly where statements derived from the immediate measurements can be easily distorted.

Vincent
May 23, 2010 3:08 am

Another way of looking at is is to imagine you have \$3,000,000 under the mattress 🙂
You spend \$200 each year. How long would your stash last?
A more accurate conclusion would be to say “Ice loss is almost immeasurably small and much less than anyone thought.”

May 23, 2010 3:10 am

Sorry!
“Assumption” instead of “persumption” of course!! Or maby mt question is persumpted?? : )

kwik
May 23, 2010 3:12 am

One very typical AGW approach;
When someone says the vikings at Greenland prove that it was a warm-period “back then” , the AGW answer is; NO that was a LOCAL warming!
If the Greenland melts by 0.005% os something TODAY, its GLOBAL warming.
Already at that point, you realise, its a religion.

May 23, 2010 3:14 am

Its “Much worse than expected!!
“How much worse??”
“0.007% worse than we expected! We all gonna die!!”

DirkH
May 23, 2010 3:14 am

About the source fo the article, from Jimbo Wales’ Knowledge Trove:
“Grist (originally Grist Magazine; also referred to as Grist.org) is a free American non-profit online magazine that publishes environmental news and opinion articles. Launched in April 1999, Grist is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.”
They are begging for donations on their website.
“Grist employs a full-time staff of 18 ”
Here’s an interview with the CEO of grist:
http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2008/01/21/story12.html

Chris Korvin
May 23, 2010 3:16 am

A common fallacy is the “if present trends continue”. I read that” if present trends continue” by 2030 ( I think it was) 40% of the worlds population will be Elvis impersonaters.

Spaceman
May 23, 2010 3:18 am

Excellent post, thank you, and I appreciated the nod to Haldane in its title. Just because a number has a lot of zeroes on the end doesn’t mean it is big – it depends on what you are (perhaps implicitly) comparing it to. I think the problem is basically one of using the wrong units – the cubic kilometre is not the ideal unit for measuring volume changes in the Greenland ice sheet, though it is a bit more useful than the ‘Lake Erie’ unit. That one is just stupid and there’s no excuse for using it – after all, the Greenland Ice Sheet isn’t discharging into Lake Erie, is it?
The way I encourage my students to think about figures like this is to try to find something to normalise them to. You have normalised the volume change to the to total volume, so the ratio is the number of Greenland-Ice-Sheet volumes lost per year, which is indeed around 0.00007. Wow – now we have a small number! Oh, wait a minute – the article you are commenting on implies that it’s a big number. Unless there is a theory that says what it ‘should’, it’s just a number, which is more or less interesting. As you say, if it goes on at the same rate, the ice sheet will be gone in a period of time of the order of 10,000 years. If.
You could normalise the rate of change of volume in other ways. One way would be against the total area of the GIS. If we take that as 1.71 x 10^6 km^2, the ratio is equivalent to a mean loss of ice thickness of about 12 cm per year (from a mean thickness of around 1600 metres), which is also a bit easier to visualise than 0.33 Lake Eries per year. Or again, to its contribution to global sea level. My back-of-envelope calculation puts that at 0.5 mm per year. Again, I think that is not so difficult to visualise.
This stuff is important. The inability or unwillingness to do these back-of-envelope calculations is widespread, even in the scientific community. I’ve lost count of the number of papers I have reviewed in which some ridiculous error could have been detected by the authors if only they had taken the trouble to check it. Ho hum.
Hope the Corona did the trick. Cheers!

Sera
May 23, 2010 3:25 am

Willis, I get the same way sometimes. But then I remember that old adage…
“A sunny disposition won’t solve any of your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worthwhile.”

rbateman
May 23, 2010 3:27 am

12,000 years for Greenland to melt?
Why, that’s only 1/5 the time needed to send a probe to Alpha Centauri with present technology.

Richard111
May 23, 2010 3:34 am

I remember when the 1 meter sea level rise by 2100 scare came out I calculated that 400,000 km^3 had to melt to get that 1 meter rise in sea level.
Using the figure of 200 km^3 melt per year it would take 2,000 years.
That of course assumes the climate will remain constant. Any bets? 🙂

David, UK
May 23, 2010 3:37 am

Thanks for this, Willis. I have left a comment on the source page (subject to approval, so my hopes are not too high that it will be published) summarising that at this rate the Greenland ice is being lost at a rate of a few thousandths of one percent every year, and that if this rate increases then the ice will be lost even faster than that. I ended the comment with the question : Should I be alarmed?
I urge other rational people to leave a comment. These Government-sponsored charlatans (for that is what they are) must be made to realise we weren’t all born yesterday.

Louis Hissink
May 23, 2010 3:41 am

Willis,
The real issue is the nature of gravity itself. I touched on it for my MSc., indirectly, two decades ago, but had to confronti it directly last year when a drill hole survey instrument measured negative gravity vectors. Consulting geophysicists were thoughtless.
But the data lie not, and in the best of Popperism, I, as a scientist, question the basics underlying the science I work from.

Curiousgeorge
May 23, 2010 3:46 am

I just can’t get worked up about Greenland. Primarily because 12, 000 years ago or so when ice was 2 or 3 miles thick down to Chicago, N. America was a very dry desert and life was very difficult. Water is good, ice is bad.

Peter
May 23, 2010 3:51 am

Toby:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/abs/nature09043.html

Accounting for multiple sources of uncertainty, a composite of several OHCA curves using different XBT bias corrections still yields a statistically significant linear warming trend for 1993–2008 of 0.64 W m-2 (calculated for the Earth’s entire surface area), with a 90-per-cent confidence interval of 0.53–0.75 W m-2.

A few decades ago, any researcher claiming statistical significance with a 90% confidence interval would have been told, in no uncertain terms, to go back to school.
But, of course, we now live in the post-scientific era.

May 23, 2010 3:52 am

Suppose this is correct, there still remains one basic question:
Where is the proof that man is responsible?
Thanks
JK

rbateman
May 23, 2010 3:54 am

Robust. Isn’t that a term I have heard in the past, while happening upon a cooking show?
Seems to me that it also had something to do with wine tasting.
Oh, very well, I’ll take the \$3M in the bank that comes with the robust \$200/mo. fee for storage.
Please hurry the check along, and tell Vanna I want to buy a vowel.

May 23, 2010 4:06 am

Willis, you explain things as clearly as Isaac Asimov. The best compliment I can bestow.

May 23, 2010 4:11 am

Thanks for the info, Willis. Well said.
0.005% — 0.008% ice loss per year, that could be stated as 50-80 ppm (parts per million), a unit well known in this field.

anna v
May 23, 2010 4:14 am

May 23, 2010 at 2:50 am
On dating of icecores, have you read through:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_core ?
It describes the dating for recent years, and says there are several methods for going into the long past. You can start from there and look up the references.

Martin Lewitt
May 23, 2010 4:18 am

Willis,
If you think one-third of Lake Erie is hype, how about trying 2 billion Hiroshima atomic bombs of heat being stored into the oceans based upon that Lyman paper in Nature:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100519/ap_on_sc/us_sci_climate_reports
Of course, what is left out is that the Nature paper downgrades guru James Hansen’s 0.85W/m^2 to 0.64W/m^2 globally and annually averaged. So that 2 billion Hiroshima figure is 656 million less Hiroshima’s than before. This is about 0.2 milliseconds of solar output.

May 23, 2010 4:24 am

These satellite readings are useless at measuring small changes in a place like Greenland. The reason being that Greenland experiences huge changes in elevation due to isostasy and that there are very few bedrock outcrops to calibrate off of. Ice mass in Greenland could just as easily be increasing.
http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=15598567

The Greenland coastal temperatures have followed the early 20th century global warming trend. Since 1940, however, the Greenland coastal stations data have undergone predominantly a cooling trend. At the summit of the Greenland ice sheet the summer average temperature has decreased at the rate of 2.2°C per decade since the beginning of the measurements in 1987. This suggests that the Greenland ice sheet and coastal regions are not following the current global warming trend. A considerable and rapid warming over all of coastal Greenland occurred in the 1920s when the average annual surface air temperature rose between 2 and 4 °C in less than ten years (at some stations the increase in winter temperature was as high as 6°C). This rapid warming, at a time when the change in anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases was well below the current level, suggests a high natural variability in the regional climate. High anticorrelations (r = -0.84 to -0.93) between the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) index and Greenland temperature time series suggest a physical connection between these processes. Therefore, the future changes in the NAO and Northern Annular Mode may be of critical consequence to the future temperature forcing of the Greenland ice sheet melt rates.

May 23, 2010 4:30 am

Richard111 says:
May 23, 2010 at 3:34 am
I remember when the 1 meter sea level rise by 2100 scare came out I calculated that 400,000 km^3 had to melt to get that 1 meter rise in sea level.
Using the figure of 200 km^3 melt per year it would take 2,000 years.
That of course assumes the climate will remain constant. Any bets? 🙂

1 meter sea level rise scare? You must be easy to scare. 2 years ago, James Hansen visited Norway.He explained that the sea level was about to rise by 75 meters and that it was a guaranteed disaster:
Newspaper article (Norway’s biggest paper Aftenposten) April 2008
http://www.aftenposten.no/klima/article2353729.ece
Hansen was quoted as saying: “- Hvis vi holder oss på 450 ppm lenge nok, vil sannsynligvis all isen smelte – og det tilsvarer en økning i havnivåene på 75 meter. Det vi har funnet er at målet vi alle har satt oss, er en katastrofe – en garantert katastrofe, sier den anerkjente forskeren til The Guardian.”
If we google translate that back to english: “- If we stay at 450 ppm for long enough, it will probably melt all the ice – and it corresponds to a rise in sea levels of 75 meters. What we have found is that the goal we have set ourselves is a disaster – a guaranteed disaster, ” said the renowned scientist to The Guardian.”

It didn’t scare me, but instead it triggered my interest in finding out what exactly these people were up to.

wayne
May 23, 2010 4:32 am

Willis, somehow I missed the blue link to the very first article “Weighing Greenland.” Most of the points I made above are there within. Just disregard my contention, I now know you were already aware.

Martin Lewitt
May 23, 2010 4:33 am

With an ocean area of 335,258,000 km^2, the 200 km^3 contributes 0.59 mm per year, or 5.9cm per century, or about 2.3 inches per century.

Editor
May 23, 2010 4:39 am

Another great essay, Willis!
GRACE is a really cool scientific tool… But the breathless claims of ice loss that have been based on its data totally ignore potential margin of error and the meaningful resolution of residual gravity anomalies.
I believe that Velicogna & Wahr (2006) was the first publication like this. They estimated that Antarctica had lost 153 km^3/yr from 2002-2005 – All of the ice loss was from the WAIS. Well, that 153 km^3/yr works out to 0.006%/yr of the WAIS (0.0006%/yr of the total Antarctic ice sheet). Gravity is a great geophysical tool, but measurements that are accurate to tens to hundreds of thousandths of 1%? I don’t think so,
Velicogna et al. also found that their PGR estimate was greater than the ice loss estimate…

This ice mass estimate is contaminated by variations in atmospheric mass and from PGR. European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) meteorological fields were used to remove atmospheric effects from the raw data before constructing gravity fields. But there are errors in those fields. We estimated the secular component of those errors by finding monthly differences between meteorological fields from ECMWF and from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, applying the Antarctic averaging function to those differences and fitting a trend, and annually and semiannually varying terms to the results. The linear trend was small, equivalent to about 10 km3/year, and was interpreted as the uncertainty due to atmospheric errors. We took the root sum square (RSS) with the effects of GRACE gravity-field errors, to obtain a new error estimate of ±16 km3/year.
A PGR signal is indistinguishable from a linear trend in ice mass. PGR effects are large and must be independently modeled and removed. There are two important sources of error in PGR estimates: the ice history and Earth’s viscosity profile. We estimated the PGR contribution and its uncertainties using two ice history models: ICE-5G (16) and IJ05 (17). IJ05 is available only for Antarctica, so we combined it with ICE-5G outside Antarctica. We convolved these ice histories with viscoelastic Green’s functions for an incompressible Earth (18). We computed trends in the Stokes coefficients for all plausible combinations of two-layer viscosity profiles and convolved these trends with the averaging function. ICE-5G trends are consistently larger than the IJ05 trends. We estimated the range of possible PGR contributions by defining our lower bound to be the minimum IJ05 trend (over all viscosity profiles) and our upper bound to be the maximum ICE-5G trend. Our best estimate of PGR trend is the midpoint of this range. This estimate translates to an apparent ice increase of 192 ± 79 km3/year, where the uncertainty corresponds to the bounds of our PGR range.
We subtracted this PGR contribution from the GRACE-minus-leakage ice mass estimates (Fig. 2). The best-fitting linear trend, and our final estimate of the decrease in total Antarctic mass between the summers of 2002 and 2005, is 152 ± 80 km3/year. The uncertainty is the RSS of the errors in the GRACE fit and in the PGR contribution. This rate of ice loss corresponds to 0.4 ± 0.2 mm/year of global sea-level rise.

The PGR uncertainty was more than half of their annual ice loss estimate!
Interestingly, their estimated ice loss corresponded to the IPCC’s “0.4 ± 0.2 mm/year of global sea-level rise” due to the melting of continental ice.
Well, if I look at Jerejeva et al’s (2008) sea level reconstruction since 1700, I find that there were decades in the 1700’s and 1800’s in which sea level rose far more rapidly than it has in any decades since 1950.
Here are the top ten decades of sea level rise (mm/yr) since 1700…
1804-1813 12.75
1803-1812 10.67
1728-1737 10.30
1789-1798 8.38
1842-1851 7.87
1858-1867 7.82
1788-1797 7.72
1861-1870 7.66
1808-1817 7.58
1785-1794 7.18
All of those periods occurred long before man started pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. One has to wonder what sort of ice loss GRACE would have indicated if it was flying from 1790-1815. (I suppose that some of the late 18th – early 19th century sea level variability could be the result of a larger margin of error in the older data).
Here are the top ten decades (mm/yr) from 1950-2002…
1989-1998 4.66
1990-1999 3.95
1991-2000 3.86
1956-1965 3.79
1986-1995 3.78
1974-1983 3.71
1952-1961 3.65
1993-2002 3.63
1988-1997 3.44
1975-1984 3.30
Far less decadal scale sea level rise than was the norm during the intitial warm up from the Little Ice Age. And none of the 10-yr periods since 1700 has come anywhere close to the 22 mm/yr sea level rise recently predicted by the National Academy of Sciences.

Steve from Rockwood
May 23, 2010 4:39 am

My understanding is that GRACE is located about 460 km above the Earth’s surface and the two sensors are separated by 220 km. At those distances how can NASA be sure the gravity anomaly is caused by water loss and not something deeper. At what depth do they attribute the Greenland water loss to?
In India, NASA shows serious water loss in the north. They barely discuss the even greater water gain in the south (attributed to greater rainfall). This is attributed to denisty loss/gain from GRACE. But the water loss does not seem to correlate very well with population density, although human use is stated as the likely cause.
So my questions are “what is the depth sensitivity of GRACE and what are the real causes of the calculated density anomalies?”.

Ed MacAulay
May 23, 2010 4:41 am

Evelyn says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:39 am
And if that is not enough, we’re told that Greenland is rising because the ice no longer holds it down as it’s melting away.
The logical next step is to consider if the land is rising, what is dropping? If the ocean floor is subsiding then are we in danger of lower sea levels?

Jimbo
May 23, 2010 4:50 am

“And how is a Greenland ice loss of seven thousandths of one percent per year “bad news”?”
—–
I’ll wildly speculate and state that surely this is within natural climate variation. In the past it’s been worse than we thought.

stephen richards
May 23, 2010 4:53 am

Somewhere along the line they seem to forget about the variability of sea temps. The North Sea varies by 12°C over 6 months, the med by some 15°C and the arctic by, well not as much, but when the land is at -40°C and the sea water is at -4°C that is a significant warming signal. Bozos, who funds them? Oh I forgot, it’s us bozos.

JimB
May 23, 2010 5:04 am

Toby,
I find some of the statements made in the article you referenced to be particularly interesting.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/abs/nature09043.html
“…but the underlying uncertainties in ocean warming are unclear, limiting our ability to assess closure of sea-level budgets4, 5, 6, 7, the global radiation imbalance8 and climate models5. For example, several teams have recently produced different multi-year estimates of the annually averaged global integral of upper-ocean heat content anomalies (hereafter OHCA curves) or, equivalently, the thermosteric sea-level rise…”
So this basically states that there is no “consensus” between various teams regarding heat budgets for upper oceans, if I’ve got it right?
And wasn’t there a post quite recently here on WUWT predicting that the SSTs were about to “plunge”?…
How much are we paying these folks? I want another refund…
JimB

David L
May 23, 2010 5:07 am

My pet peeve as well. Exaggeration of numbers and their importance occur throught the literature and especially in the media. Another pet peeve is making measurements for the first time and then proclaiming whatever they observe is unprecedented. The earth has been changing for billions of years. How can anything really be unprecedented?

Gail Combs
May 23, 2010 5:08 am

toby says:
May 23, 2010 at 1:39 am
Of course it is only six years of evidence, but taken with all the other peices of evidence, it IS bad news. Like this:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/abs/nature09043.html
___________________________________________________________________________
Toby, Look at the middle graph. IT IS FLAT LINING.
I suggest you read about error bars and the IPCC/temp before you get your shorts in a twist. This type of lying with statistics and graphs
is exactly what Willis is talking about. Shouting about changes of tenths of a degree in data that has an accuracy of 0.5 to 4.0 degrees C is just plain lying.
Statistical error in temperature data

Jimbo
May 23, 2010 5:09 am

In fact, it’s so much, much worse than we thought 6,000 to 7,000 years ago.

Bill Tuttle
May 23, 2010 5:18 am

rbateman: May 23, 2010 at 3:54 am
Robust. Isn’t that a term I have heard in the past, while happening upon a cooking show?
Or while watching a documentary on australopithecines.
They’re extinct, despite their robustnessosity. Or is it robustositiness?

fredb
May 23, 2010 5:22 am

Valid point — EXCEPT: it ignores issues of
a) the loss is monotonic and suggests a drivers as opposed to variability, and
b) if (a) is true, that current physical understanding would indicate this is the early portion of an accelerating process with local positive feedbacks.

Hans Erren
May 23, 2010 5:23 am

I blogged last year about greenland in Dutch, http://www.vkblog.nl/bericht/268863/Over_Groenland
Are there any recent updates by Konrad Steffen and Russell Huff, their last update is from 2007. Their scary extremes were used by Pier Vellinga to scare the dutch about sea level rise.

Don
May 23, 2010 5:24 am

Well Willis, I get all wound up about things like this because the place was frickin’ green several hundred years ago. So what’s the big deal anyway? It’s just more alarmist horse manure!
Don’t get me wrong; I agree with you about putting things in their proper perspective and you did a nice job of it. However these alarmists or bozos, whichever they are, cause such a waste of time and energy because of their religion or stupidity.

May 23, 2010 5:29 am

Similar considerations apply to the Antarctic. According to NASA (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/20100108_Is_Antarctica_Melting.html) the Antarctic is losing 100 km3 per year. The volume of the Antarctic ice is around 30 million km3. So at this rate it will take another 300,000 years. We should be careful though – on their web site NASA show a curve (quadratic equation?) fitted to the ice loss numbers for the last 7 years which suggests the rate might be increasing – so it may happen a bit sooner.
I can fully understand where Willis is coming from. On my own web site we’ve started a series looking at this type of error. Only a couple so far but more to come.
http://www.climatedata.info/Discussions/Discussions/opinions.php

Speed
May 23, 2010 5:32 am

And to put the “time to total loss” (12,000 to 19,000 years) into perspective …
… “the ice age” refers to the most recent colder period that peaked at the Last Glacial Maximum approximately 20,000 years ago, in which extensive ice sheets lay over large parts of the North American and Eurasian continents. (Wikipedia)

Lars Kamél
May 23, 2010 5:42 am

Have these GRACE researchers excluded the possiblity that convection in the mantel below Greenland is causing a slow subduction? This would also make the GRACE satellites measure less gravitional pull from Greenland, I think.

pyromancer76
May 23, 2010 5:45 am

Willis, I hope you enjoyed your beer as much as I found great satisfaction in your waxing wroth. Nothing like the real world of mathematics and scientifically valid measurements with error possibilities included. Keep holding their feet to the fire and requiring THE TRUTH (drum beats, please) instead of exploitation by pseudo-scientists and excrement-quality pseudo-scientific reporters. I feel for ya.
” Oh, please, spare me. As the article points out, we’ve only been measuring Greenland ice using the GRACE satellites for six years now. How could anyone have “expected” anything? What, were they expecting a loss of 0.003% or something? And how is a Greenland ice loss of seven thousandths of one percent per year “bad news”? Grrrr …
I’ll stop here, as I can feel my blood pressure rising again….”
Thanks. You have helped me keep mine in a healthy range.

DB
May 23, 2010 5:46 am

Willis wrote:
“The measurement by the GRACE satellites is not measuring the height of the ice and estimating the ice loss from that. It is measuring the weight of the ice. As such, the isostatic rebound doesn’t affect the answer, because although the underlying rock moves vertically, the weight of it doesn’t change.”
The weight of a mass does change the further away it is from the earth’s center; in space the weight becomes zero. Thus isostatic rebound does indeed change the weight of the rock. The research team has to sort out the difference between the changes in rock and the changes in ice.
West Antarctic ice sheet may not be losing ice as fast as once thought
New ground measurements made by the West Antarctic GPS Network (WAGN) project, composed of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, The Ohio State University, and The University of Memphis, suggest the rate of ice loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet has been slightly overestimated.
“Our work suggests that while West Antarctica is still losing significant amounts of ice, the loss appears to be slightly slower than some recent estimates,” said Ian Dalziel, lead principal investigator for WAGN. “So the take home message is that Antarctica is contributing to rising sea levels. It is the rate that is unclear.”
In 2006, another team of researchers used data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to infer a significant loss of ice mass over West Antarctica from 2002 to 2005. The GRACE satellites do not measure changes in ice loss directly but measure changes in gravity, which can be caused both by ice loss and vertical uplift of the bedrock underlying the ice.
Now, for the first time, researchers have directly measured the vertical motion of the bedrock at sites across West Antarctica using the Global Positioning System (GPS)….
Postglacial rebound causes an increase in the gravitational attraction measured by the GRACE satellites and could explain their inferred measurements of recent, rapid ice loss in West Antarctica.

May 23, 2010 5:47 am

First major oil landfall in LA is predicted to be today.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/achenblog/2010/05/oil_slathers_louisiana.html
NOAA oil map:
http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/book_shelf/2039_TMF72-2010-05-21-1900.pdf
It is simply astounding that BP did not have more controls in place, did not properly test the well, modified the blowout preventers, did not fix said blowout preventers when they knew they were leaking hydraulic fluid, and had no plan in place to manage the spill. This is not a failure of offshore drilling, or the oil industry generally, it is a failure of BP.

ECE Georgia
May 23, 2010 6:02 am

Willis I will add my voice to the chorus. Thanks for your wonderful posts and Anthony for this forum. Also others who post and comment here! Please keep it up! I have been reading it daily for months!
As a retired agricultural pesticide research scientist I see from Big Government dot com that the ‘green scientists’ are attempting to get atrazine banned! Same method of alarmism! You want to see a REAL MESS, mess with our reliable food supply!
This post really SHOULD have made the MSM. Can you imagine if Beck or Sarah could give this 5 minutes in a program?! WOW
Eric

Frank K.
May 23, 2010 6:08 am

Jimbo says:
May 23, 2010 at 4:50 am
“And how is a Greenland ice loss of seven thousandths of one percent per year “bad news”?”
Jimbo – remember the cardinal rule of Climate “Science” research:
“Bad News” for the climate = Good News for my research budget!
Climate Ca\$h for the Global Warming Industry – because Al Gore deserves another sea side villa!

AnonyMoose
May 23, 2010 6:11 am

anna v says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:26 am
I have found the animation provided by Anthony very instructive. The only true climate prophecy is that an ice age will come. Certainly before the next ten thousand years.

Probably, but not certainly. We recently have been in a cycle of glacial events, but we don’t know with certainty what started them nor what will stop them. The AGW alarmists haven’t been promising that AGW will stop the glacial events, probably because that would be a good thing… or because they don’t want to remind us how much a glacial event will affect polar bears who would be waiting for seals on top of a mile of ice.

Gail Combs
May 23, 2010 6:12 am

Thank you Willis, for exposing another attempt at misleading the public. This is not science it is “spin” and they hire experts to do it. I was researching another topic and stumbled onto the information below. Stan Greenberg seems to be another major behind the scene player in “Global Warming” and “Global Governance”
“He [Stan Greenberg
was also a strategic consultant to the Climate Center of the Natural Resources Defense Council on its multi-year campaign on global warming ……NGO board memberships include the American Museum of Natural History, the National Endowment for Democracy, The Africa-America Institute, the Citizens Committee for New York City, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Refugees International…….Republican pollster Frank Luntz says “Stan Greenberg scares the hell out of me. He doesn’t just have a finger on the people’s pulse; he’s got an IV injected into it.”

More on Greenburg. He is definitely the power behind the throne of many countries. Stan Greenberg provides strategic advice and research for leaders, companies, campaigns, and NGOs trying to advance their issues.
Greenberg Carville Shrum directed Campaigns in 60 countries including Bolivia That fiasco was documented in the film “Our brand is Crisis”
An Ad for Greenberg’s new book states “The fascinating “war room” memoir of a political pollster and how he helped forge the agendas of five high-profile heads of state”:
“As a hired gun strategist, Greenberg—a seasoned pollster and political consultant— has seen it all. In his memoir, he recounts his work with President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, and South African president Nelson Mandela. Through his experiences aiding the leaders in pushing their visions for better and clearer domestic and international policies, Greenberg offers an insightful examination of leadership, democracy, and the bridge between candidate and constituency. This captivating tale of political battlegrounds provides an inside look at some of the greatest international leaders of our time from the man who stood directly beside them.”
Greenberg
has conducted extensive research in Europe (particularly Great Britain, Germany and France), Central and South America (Argentina and Brazil), and Africa (South Africa). He specializes in research on globalization, international trade, corporate consolidation, technology and the Internet. For organizations, Greenberg has helped manage and frame a number of issues – including education, school financing, American identity, the economy, environmental regulation, international trade, managed care, biotechnology, copyrights, privacy and the Internet….”

Greenberg has advised a broad range of political campaigns, including those of President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore, Senators Chris Dodd, Joe Lieberman and Jeff Bingaman;
Greenberg works jointly on private sector projects with prominent Republican pollsters in the United States – including Fred Steeper (pollster to former President Bush), Bill McInturff and Linda DiVall – to bring a bi-partisan focus to public issues….”
Stan Greenberg “…specializes in research on globalization, international trade…”
Greenberg writes for the Democratic Strategist and also formed Democracy Corps
Her is his connection to Dēmos:
“Dēmos promotes responsible U.S. engagement in an interdependent world. It advances policies and ideas in support of a more democratic system of global governance, a more inclusive and sustainable global economy…”
The International Program at Dēmos promotes responsible U.S. engagement in an interdependent world. It advances policies and ideas in support of a more democratic system of global governance, a more inclusive and sustainable global economy,…. Dēmos was founded in 2000. ..[here is the connection]…This Message Builder also draws from recent, publicly available opinion research conducted by Public Agenda Democracy Corps, and World Public Opinion.
A dangerous man well worth watching.

beng
May 23, 2010 6:21 am

I wonder what their most recent (last 6 months) show? This winter (2009-2010) featured a semipermanent low just SW of Greenland pumping in moisture (snow) over southern Greenland.
I bet there was a big accumulation of snow in (at least southern) Greenland this past winter.

Geoff Sherrington
May 23, 2010 6:32 am

Willis,
Afraid I have to disagree with “As such, the isostatic rebound doesn’t affect the answer, because although the underlying rock moves vertically, the weight of it doesn’t change.”
Garvity measurements extend in theory through the centre of the earth and roughly obey G=m1*m2/d^2 as you know. If a thinner ice is replaced by a denser rock rebounding from below, the gravity meters will “see” more of the rock and hence give a higher G reading.
Three interesting bits of information would be: (a) do the 2 satellites, after a few years, maintain their original separation, or is there a drift in separation that has to be corrected to get consistent gravity results? (b) what is the angular resolution of the gravity field? I’d imagine measurements could not reflect better than 1000 x 1000 km and even this overlooks edge effects like steeply sloping deep coastlines. (c) What corrections are needed for the effect of other planets and the moon, whose gravity shifts tides around?
Sure, it’s clever technology, but it has such high demands on measuring satellite separation that one should be cautious about error terms.

Jeff L
May 23, 2010 6:37 am

tty says:
May 23, 2010 at 1:45 am
Willis Eschenbach says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:43 am
I think tty is correct on this one. GRACE is measuring changes in the gravitational field. Changes in the gravitational field are generated by any & all changes in lateral density contrasts, which would include isostatic, tectonic & ice volume changes. From the changes in the gravitational field, ice loss in inferred – but it is therefore implied all other potential sources of changes in field have been eliminated. I would say tty is correct in saying the error bars on this small number are considerably bigger than 10%. David Middleton’s post above would also support that the error bars are much greater than 10%. So what do you conclude…..
…. it’s worse than you thought :))
Not only is the ice loss an incredibly small #, but we also have big error bars on exactly what that number is …. and despite the fact the the original article claims it is due to AGW, I don’t see any data presented to support that hypothesis. So, we have an insignificantly small number with huge error bars being used as proof of a hypothesis with no link between cause & effect even attempted to be shown.
Now that’s some solid science!

Craig Loehle
May 23, 2010 6:37 am

It is curious how scientists can be innumerate. I think they need to take a class from Cowboy Willis in using all their fingers and toes. It reminds me of the Woody Allen movie where as a boy he didn’t want to do his homework because the universe was going to end in 8 billion years…

claus
May 23, 2010 6:44 am

“…meaning that the Greenland Ice Cap would only last until May 23rd, 12010.”
But: This supposes “all else equal” aka ceteris paribus and we all (should) know that in nature there is no such thing. There are no two years that are exactly equal, so how can you suggest that there would be 10,000 years of identical conditions?
Makes no sense to me. At least, if you insist on correcting malpractices and ridiculous statements, don’t do it wih statements that are every bit as uncertain as the original one 😉

May 23, 2010 6:53 am

DavidB says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:01 am
The most useful way of indicating the importance of the ice melt would be to say what effect it has on sea level. Taking a rough value of 350 million square km for the sea surface of the earth, 200 cubic km would be spread very thin.

An ice loss rate of 200 cubic kms/year could cause about 0.55 millimetres of sea level rise per year or 5.5 centimetres per century.

May 23, 2010 6:59 am

And if that terrifying rate of loss continues unabated, of course, it will all be gone in a mere 15,000 years.

Is anyone talking about the loss of the Greenland Ice Cap? No, no they are not. So this is a ridiculous straw man.
How could anyone have “expected” anything?
I can’t imagine. You’d think there were other satellites up there or something.
To this question, I fear we have no answer, as our historical records are very spotty both spatially and temporally. We will know more in twenty years or so, but at present all we can do is observe — we don’t have the historical data necessary to draw any conclusions.
And in “twenty years or so,” if the majority of the world’s scientists are drawing the correct conclusion from the data, we will be in that much worse of a pickle.
You guys always discount the downside risks. It would be an interesting intellectual exercise, except that you are gambling with huge stakes. Anyway, enjoy the beer.

May 23, 2010 7:07 am

So… basically, the current annual ice loss of Groenland is to the total Groenland ice cap what a loss of 4 grams is to my total weight of 58 kg. After one year. Stop the presses !

Pascvaks
May 23, 2010 7:10 am

My geopolitical guesstimation of the cost to reverse this terrible trend is \$6.491 gigatrillion over the course of the next 15 years. Of course, the richer nations must contribute a proportionately larger share to this cause as it was their fault that all this is happening. Since China and India have played such minor roles, and those nations around the equator, and in the Southern Hemisphere (excepting Aussie Land and New Zealand) have had no role whatsoever, these nations should pay nothing at all. Failure to meet the conditions of this UN resolution will place responsible nations in default and all real property and personal possessions of citizens in default will be sold at auction in Addis Abba on 24 May 2025. The former ‘citizens’ of these countries will be captured and sold into slavery on 25 May 2025, in lots of 10,000 – 100,000 – 1,000,000 – and 10,000,000.
Record of the UN Security Council Vote to pass the above provisions:
China – Yhep; France – Qui, Qui; United Kingdom – I am happy to say Of Course; Russia – Dah; United States of America – Si, Yes, OK, Yea, Hit Me Again, You Bet; Gabbon – Yes; Spain – No; Mexico – Si; Brazil – Absoluto; India – Yes; Iran – You Bet Bubba; North Korea – Nuc Em! I mean, Sure Bubba; Panama – No Way, Jose!; Iraq – Okeedookee; Poland – No! No! No!
PS: We should’a known this day would come.

Frank
May 23, 2010 7:14 am

Corona!? You’re in Chico! Have a pale ale! 🙂 Cheers!
Great article. I’m saving it to reference those percentages. Should shut down the idiots who just spout talking points. Thanks!

jack morrow
May 23, 2010 7:17 am

Great Willis.
Even if the people who put out these sort of things know they are wrong they will continue. And, just like Hansen, Mann ,and the others- nothing will happen to them. The IPCC keeps churning and the cap and trade bill will be passed. All this will happen unless the bums are thrown out and that is unlikely because about 50% of the people are on the take. Cynicism over-it’s Sunday.

TerrySkinner
May 23, 2010 7:26 am

Martin Lewitt wrote: “With an ocean area of 335,258,000 km^2, the 200 km^3 contributes 0.59 mm per year, or 5.9cm per century, or about 2.3 inches per century.”
And that is if absolutely nothing else is happening on Earth. From wikepedia the following list is of the largest man made reservoirs by volume:
1.Lake Kariba (180 km3 or 43 cu mi; Zimbabwe, Zambia)
2.Bratsk Reservoir (169 km3 or 41 cu mi; Russia)
3.Lake Nasser (157 km3 or 38 cu mi; Egypt, Sudan)
4.Lake Volta (148 km3 or 36 cu mi; Ghana)
5.Manicouagan Reservoir (142 km3 or 34 cu mi; Canada)
6.Lake Guri (135 km3 or 32 cu mi; Venezuela)
7.Williston Lake (74 km3 or 18 cu mi; Canada)
8.Krasnoyarsk Reservoir (73 km3 or 18 cu mi; Russia)
9.Zeya Reservoir (68 km3 or 16 cu mi; Russia)
Add in other works coming on stream like China and in the past century a lot of water has been locked up by man away from the Ocean. But all of this is but a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to human use of water for cities, industry and agriculture across the world.
Then consider if there really is a warming trend. Warmer air contains more moisture. Globally this would make a big difference. No wonder there is no noticable change to sea-level in my over 50 years of living by the sea. I will continue to judge this sort of things by eyesight, not by the decimatl points of worked, reworked and overworked ‘scientific’ theories.

Ed Fix
May 23, 2010 7:27 am

I couldn’t resist leaving a comment on the original article:
“OH! MY! GOD! 200 cubic km EVERY YEAR?? Why, that’s as much as 0.00007 of Greenland’s 3 million cubic km of ice EVERY YEAR!! Greenland could be completely ice free by May, 17010! Why, in a just a couple thousand years, the ice loss and sea level rise might even become perceptible! RUN FOR THE HILLS!! IT’S WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT!!!!!”
OK, so it might be considered a bit of a troll, and somebody might construe that I have violated two of their rules for posting:
1. Don’t be a jerk. Nobody likes jerks.

7. Seriously, don’t be a jerk.
However, it’s hard to take those rules seriously when the whole article is one huge troll. It might be interesting to see any replies to that. True believers don’t react well to apostasy or inconvenient analysis.
Ed

r
May 23, 2010 7:29 am

All one has to do is look at the layers of rock visible at road cuts to see the magnitude of water and rock movements that have happened every year everywhere for eons. The layers range in size from millimeters to inches. The question is, is the loss of ice (and rock?) in Greenland significant of anything? All I have to say to that is: Medieval Warm Period.

janama
May 23, 2010 7:29 am

Great article Willis.
As usual it is naturally assumed that Greenland ice melt is due to GW – they have forgotten about the other possible causes like:
“Scientists have discovered what they think may be another reason why Greenland ’s ice is melting: a thin spot in Earth’s crust is enabling underground magma to heat the ice”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071212103004.htm

Evelyn
May 23, 2010 7:32 am

” Ed MacAulay says:
May 23, 2010 at 4:41 am
The logical next step is to consider if the land is rising, what is dropping? If the ocean floor is subsiding then are we in danger of lower sea levels?”
Let’s see:
“Now, scientists at the University of Miami say Greenland’s ice is melting so quickly that the land underneath is rising at an accelerated pace.
Some coastal areas are going up by nearly 1 inch per year, the scientists announced today. If current trends continue, that could accelerate to as much as 2 inches per year by 2025, said Tim Dixon, professor of geophysics at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and principal investigator of the study. ”
1 inch, rising to 2 inches in 2025? Say we have a 0.07 inch rise in on the base rise of 1 inch per day, starting at 2010 with 1 inch, then ending at 2011 with 2 inches. That’s 23.8 inches (57cm) in all.
Willis, could you run the figures for our entertainment please?
Maybe the planet’s core is just a giant marshmallow which will expand to eventually turn the place into a proper flat earth, if only given enough time and research grants… ;-D

May 23, 2010 7:32 am

Willis:
Gets us right back to the “Medieval Warm Period” again! Take a look at this :
http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/greenland/
Great write up on the Viking settlements. We have to ask: What trends were in the ice cap +/- 200 years of their arrival and their leaving?
Perhaps somewhat unrelated but in the long run appropriate – NASA’s World Wind 1.4 currently shows a Northern Hemisphere which has about 50% of the winter peak snow coverage still in place. It’s a rather stunning graphic presentation of the best sattellite views, I recommend it highly.

TerrySkinner
May 23, 2010 7:34 am

Frank K. says: “– remember the cardinal rule of Climate “Science” research:
“Bad News” for the climate = Good News for my research budget!”
And remember the cardinal rule for tabloid science – all news is bad news:
And it is all caused by Man-made Global Warming. If only things would go back to the way they used to be when there were no storms anywhere, no droughts anywhere, no floods and no gales etc etc.

Schnurrp
May 23, 2010 7:35 am

Greenland icecap melting at this rate yields sea level rise of about .59mm / year or just over 2″ by the turn of the century. I believe that’s the way to look at it, not how long it will take to disappear. Is my math right?

harrywr2
May 23, 2010 7:36 am

toby says:
May 23, 2010 at 1:39 am
“Of course it is only six years of evidence, but taken with all the other peices of evidence, it IS bad news. Like this:”
The oceans stopped warming in 2006. There was a big jump when the Argo floats were first installed then nothing since. There has been a lot of discussion of how much of the jump that occurred when the Argo floats were installed was ‘calibration’ and how much was ‘actual heat’. The article you linked to tries to resolve that question.
It does not address the question as to ‘why haven’t the oceans warmed since 2006’.
Even if I ignore the ‘oceans stopped warming’ problem, the .64 watts/m^2 warming in the oceans isn’t put into perspective. It doesn’t provide any evidence that things are worse then we thought. It does provide evidence that things are a lot better then worst case scenario’s.

May 23, 2010 7:45 am

Driven by nonsense … forced by the sun.
It’s like the a degree or two of temperature change, related to what, or the 20 foot sea rise, related to what, engineers would see this in the scheme of things as noting more than relative error factor. For instance the seas go up and down 400 feet each way, so 20 feet, or is it more generally accepted now to be measured in centimeters, or millimeters, this is nothing more than rounding error.
After all, how does one actually measure sea level world wide. or for that matter, temperature world wide with any accuracy, say 1000 years ago. The best I can do is when grapes grow once more in England, it would be about as warm as it were when the Vikings were farming Greenland.
All at best — A good guess.

HankHenry
May 23, 2010 7:47 am

Great post on the truth behind the numbers. The more the careful reader runs into this style of exaggeration the more skeptical one becomes of the thesis that proponents wish so desperately to be true.

Nick de Cusa
May 23, 2010 7:47 am

To Willis Eschenbach : I have translated this article into French and published it here : http://www.contrepoints.org/C-est-grand-comment.html
with a view to spreading the word.
If you don’t agree with this, please let me know and I’ll take it off line.
Feel free, of course, to use this translation for whatever purpose you see fit.

Ed Caryl
May 23, 2010 7:51 am

First error: It’s LIME not lemon!
Next point: 6 years of data is one small section of a noise spike compared to the 12,000 year stretch of the melting of Greenland.
Third: If you went back in time 12,000 years, was there twice as much ice as there is now? If yes, then “move along, nothing to see here”, all is normal.

melinspain
May 23, 2010 7:59 am

When I read in Sky&Telescope magazine, a few years back , that the GRACE satellites have detected “accelerating ice loss in Geenland” I asked them (besides the data) if that had anything to do with the accelerating expansion of the universe. They never answer. I since stoped my decades long subscription.

Dave Springer
May 23, 2010 8:04 am

Let’s get US Representative Hank Johnson (4th Congressional District, GA) on the horn and have him issue a press release saying the loss of weight on Greenland is a good thing. Hank had this to say about Guam:

“My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”

I was afraid if Greenland’s ice kept getting bigger the whole island would capsize! So this is great news.

May 23, 2010 8:06 am

It’s also a bit silly to take a six-year period andthink that it says anything about longer-term trends. The amount of ice is a function of temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, windspeed and no doubt other factors. Those factors vary in non-linear ways. A six-year slice, whether it is a loss or accumulation, says nothing about where things wil be a 100 or 1,000 years from now.
It’s equivalent to thinking that a linear extrapolation of six days of stock price activity says anything about the price of that stock a year from now.

Tom_R
May 23, 2010 8:07 am

>> Willis Eschenbach says:
May 23, 2010 at 3:35 am
The corresponding rule for climate papers is “Any study with the word “Robust” in the title of the study … isn’t”. <<
Willis, you are wrong about this. In climate science the word 'robust' is a polite synonym for 'bull****', and the authors were just being honest about their work.

hunter
May 23, 2010 8:09 am

Catastrophic AGW (CAGW) is a social movement, not a science based movement.
CAGW reflects the biases and social needs of its believers. Any similarity between it and the science of climate is accidental.

Steve Keohane
May 23, 2010 8:10 am

Thanks Willis. I will spread this far and wide among my overly concerned friends.

Dave Springer
May 23, 2010 8:16 am

I just thought of another good thing. If Greenland was getting heavier it would be putting more pressure on the liquid mantle underneath it. This in turn would put a greater pressure on the magma underlying nearby Iceland. Connect the dots, folks! Less ice on Greenland means less active volcanism in Iceland. Hurray!!!!!!
How come the so-called scientists never think these things through?

Gail Combs
May 23, 2010 8:26 am

One of the more interesting facts I have found is the rags to riches stories behind some of the big players in “Global Warming” If you have done even the most minor internet searches on Maurice Strong you will find. Strong ”grew up in a poor family in a small town in Manitoba during the Great Depression.” You will also find Strong’s various brushes with litigation due to unethical behavior. Now of course he is a multi-billionaire. I mentioned San Greenberg in the above comment . Again we see a rags to riches story. One wonders if our beloved Mike Mann, Gavin Schmidt, Phi Jones and the other core players also have “rags to riches” stories as well as well padded swiss bank accounts. Or are they just foot soldiers – useful idiots. Another commenter recently mentioned Mann was having problems with his PhD thesis until he switched thesis advisors and was suddenly fast tracked. His thesis was on oceans not trees by the by.
Here is more on Stan Greenburg & Friends
Weathiest Members Of Congress
“John Kerry (D) \$900 Million
Herb Kohl (D) \$315 Million
Jay Rockefeller (D) \$275 Million
Nancey Pelosi (D) \$268 Million
Moving up fast……
The Clintons amassed nearly \$169 million in the past 10 years of “public service”.
But the entry that really sent my Democratic strategist friend ballistic was the one for Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Connecticut Democrat. La Rosa–tied for #48 on the Richest list–gets the lion’s share of her wealth from her husband–Clintonista pollster and campaign strategist Stan Greenberg. Says Roll Call, “DeLauro’s primary asset is a 67-percent stake in Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc., a Washington-based firm run by her husband, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. Her share in the company nets the Representative \$5 million to \$25 million. She has a partial stake in two other polling/consulting firms. The first is Greenberg Research, of which she and her husband own 100 percent, and Sun Surveys, in which she owns a 60 percent stake. Neither of these is as lucrative as Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, however.”
My bud the political warhorse snorted, “Hell, when she first ran for Congress she didn’t have a dime–I was one of her biggest contributors. And Stan Greenberg, who worked for me back when he was starting out, used to have holes in his socks!” Noting that Congressional wealth is usually closer to the higher than to the lower estimates on the disclosure forms, my dour Democrat gasped, “That means they’re making around \$50 million! These people shouldn’t be running Democratic campaigns!”
So, if you want to know why the national Democrats seem, in this campaign, to have a tin ear where touching the hearts and minds of the working stiffs is concerned, think about this: the three partners in the Democracy Corps–Greenberg, James Carville, and Kerry’s chief message-shaper Bob Shrum–are all multimillionaires. And yet their counsel–proferred in an endless series of free Democracy Corps memos distributed to the party elite well before and during the presidential primaries, whose content (or lack of it) they helped shape–is taken as gospel by Democratic liberals feverish for victory. Well, as the old Texas populist Maury Maverick Jr. used to say, “a liberal is a power junkie without the power.”

I wonder where those millions amassed “during public service” came from, don’t you???

Tom Jones
May 23, 2010 8:33 am

Wiillis, as long as you are getting outraged, read the article on “Polar Meltdown” on page 45 of the new issue of “Scientific American” . You would think some people would be ashamed of what they write, but there’s no evidence of that.
Thanks for the analysis. Please keep it up.

HankHenry
May 23, 2010 8:38 am

Are there any estimates of the amount of ice that normally melts in a year at the edges versus the amount of new snow added in a year at the interior? I wonder how that figure compares with the “third of Lake Erie” number. By the way, let’s also not forget that whoever chose Lake Erie, chose the shallowest of the great lakes
http://mff.dsisd.net/mff/Images/GreatLakeProfiles2.jpg

May 23, 2010 8:39 am

LA fishermen contemplate suicide, wow.
http://www.neworleans.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=399556&Itemid=2603
More prime fishing grounds closed:
http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/state_closes_southern_portion.html
Russians recommend a nuclear bomb to stop the spill:
http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0513/Why-don-t-we-just-drop-a-nuclear-bomb-on-the-Gulf-oil-spill
And we don’t know jack about what is going on under the surface:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/science/earth/20noaa.html
Any ideas on whether a hurricane will help or hurt?

Dave Springer
May 23, 2010 8:47 am

@hunter
re; CAGW is social movement
I agree. The individual CAGW pundit is a pusillanimous pussyfooter. Collectively they become a nattering nabobery of negativism.
RIP Bill Safire. You’re gone but not forgotten.

Jeff Alberts
May 23, 2010 8:48 am

As I’ve said before, this type of alarmism by “scientists” is tantamount to waking up one morning, discover it’s raining, see that it rains for two more hours, and concluding that the world will be flooded within weeks.

Andrew30
May 23, 2010 8:51 am

Willis Eschenbach says: May 23, 2010 at 2:43 am
“It is measuring the weight of the ice. As such, the isostatic rebound doesn’t affect the answer, because although the underlying rock moves vertically, the weight of it doesn’t change.”
Not quite.
They actually measure the change in acceleration between the two satellites and use that to infer a change in gravitational pull in the area under the leading satellites (after the trailing satellite has seen the same change, the affect becomes the common frame of reference).
If the height of the mass (the ice and mountains) ice was to remain constant; and the density of rock is greater than ice; and if gravity has an inverse square relationship of the force affect between the source and the observer; then the isostatic rebound would actually hide a small amount of ice loss.
So event this ‘simple’ measurement contain more error factors then indicated. Without knowing the actual contour of the underlying rock and the geology of the islands shelf and the rebound rate relative to the observers the measurements are not much better then a guess.
The satellites were designed to measure underground aquifers; water contained in porous rock; in large stable land masses (central USA and California) and re-purposing them to measure a dynamic system in uplift is like using the bulb of a mercury thermometer as a carpenter’s level. Close but not right.

Bill Illis
May 23, 2010 8:58 am

With all this accelerated ice-sheet melting and all this accelerated land rebound from the loss of ice as measured by the Grace satellites, …
… pretty soon, there will be an acceleration in sea level rise.

Peter Dunford
May 23, 2010 9:14 am

If loss of such an insignificant proportion of the Greenland ice sheet is some of the “most powerful evidence of global warming”, then even though we thought it was bad, the hyperbole “is worse than we thought”.
The biggest long term issue this throws up is that global warming may not be enough to prevent the onset of the next ice age.

LarryOldtimer
May 23, 2010 9:20 am

ADD (Arithmetic Deficit Disorder) is certainly a widespread syndrome. Especially, it would seem, among the well educated.

Terry
May 23, 2010 9:23 am

Thanks for posting this. What I am amazed at is the effect of a satellite’s position in orbit by passing over Greenland. At first I found it incredulous that you could determine weight based on that method but then they mentioned another method that seems to confirm it. btw, Greenland wasn’t named Greenland as a wishful thought.

Mike G
May 23, 2010 9:23 am

Does the grace data necissarily imply there is any unusual melting going on at all? If snowfall patterns aren’t what the were when the ice sheet was building, then one would expect ice loss as glaciers do what glaciers do, which is slide off into the sea. Since the ice loss is such a trivial amount, it could easily be explained by natural variability of precipitation rates.

garret seinen
May 23, 2010 9:24 am

Has anyone done a study to determine how much ice human activity is adding to the world? Since the advent of commercial refrigeration how many tonnes of ice are scattered over various campsites….in fish coolers…cooling the Corona? And then we have the residential refrigerators locking up tonnes of water. The puny loss at Greenland is well compensated for.
On the subject of AGW
Overcome your fear……have a beer. 15000 years is not tomorrow.

DavidB
May 23, 2010 9:33 am

Schnurrp says:
“Greenland icecap melting at this rate yields sea level rise of about .59mm / year or just over 2″ by the turn of the century. I believe that’s the way to look at it, not how long it will take to disappear. Is my math right?”
It’s easy to make orders-of-magnitude errors with this sort of problem, but it seems about right.
200 cubic-km of water would cover 200,000 square-km to a depth of 1 metre, or 200,000,000 square-km to a depth of 1 millimetre. The total sea-surface area of the Earth is about 350,000,000 square-km, so 200 cubic-km of water per year would cover that surface by a little over 1/2 a millimetre per year, or about 5 centimetres (2 inches) by the end of the century. 200 cubic-km of ice would produce less than 200 cubic-km of water (since water is denser than ice), but that hardly affects the general outcome, which is that melting of Greenland ice at the present rate is not in itself cause for alarm.

noaaprogrammer
May 23, 2010 9:36 am

Someone please write a letter to the National Geographic to put in perspective their June 2010 article on “Greenland, Ground Zero for Global Warming” by using Eschenbach’s numbers!

Peter Miller
May 23, 2010 9:50 am

So Greenland is rising – how the heck can these satellites accurately measure the volume of its ice cap, if this factor is not taken into account?
Nobody seems to take into account precipitation patterns – this NOAA report indicates Greenland had below average precipitation for the years 1961-2001 (no subsequent data available). I suppose it is not too simplistic to assume that if the average precipitation falls in Iceland, then its glaciers will be seen to be melting as they are not having their normal annual recharge.
http://www.climate4you.com/Polar%20precipitation.htm#Arctic%20annual%20precipitation%20change%201901-2000

Peter Miller
May 23, 2010 9:51 am

Whoops – Greenland, not Iceland.

DirkH
May 23, 2010 10:04 am

“Paul Daniel Ash says:
[…]
And in “twenty years or so,” if the majority of the world’s scientists are drawing the correct conclusion from the data, we will be in that much worse of a pickle.”
Science is not about majorities, Paul. It’s about evidence. I think you’re confusing it with politics.

tty
May 23, 2010 10:14 am

Willy Eschenbach says:
“tty, the measurement by the GRACE satellites is not measuring the height of the ice and estimating the ice loss from that. It is measuring the weight of the ice. As such, the isostatic rebound doesn’t affect the answer, because although the underlying rock moves vertically, the weight of it doesn’t change.”
It most definitely affects GRACE. As you say GRACE measures the gravity field. This is affected by the level of the ice and the level of the heavier underlying rocks. If you measured both the change of height of the ice surface and the gravity change (without any measurement errors), then you could eliminate the effect of the changes of the rock surface, but not by measuring only one of them.

A C Osborn
May 23, 2010 10:26 am

I am not sure if anyone else has posted this here, but The Hockey Schtick has just posted a stidy that completely refutes what the Satellites are finding, the ice is growing at 5.4 cm/yr.
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/05/greenland-ice-sheet-growing-54-cmyr.html

ECE Georgia
May 23, 2010 10:31 am

Paul Daniel!
“And in “twenty years or so,” if the majority of the world’s scientists are drawing the correct conclusion from the data, we will be in that much worse of a pickle.
You guys always discount the downside risks. It would be an interesting intellectual exercise, except that you are gambling with huge stakes. Anyway, enjoy the beer.”
In 20 years I will be dead, which is the nature of things! I am totally unafraid of my demise!
In my lifetime at this time I am proud that I contributed scientifically and logically, as Willis and Anthony have done here!
I AM fearfull that I have \$ encumbered my wonderful grandson with the debt that this obvious ‘folley’ of AGW is creating.
As a beleiver in human nature, and education, I would TRUST that my grandaughters and grandson, in this fabulous country of America will be able to solve this “AGW problem”, if it exists”, or DIE trying! I DO have confidence in them! I produced and educated them to QUESTION EVERYTHING!
No matter what, “Our Goose is Cooked” if AGW is right the world is doomed! Even if we roll back the clock to 1800 it won’t help!
Buck UP man! You drank the Kool-Aid that we can’t manage this as individuals! The “Collective” (minus emerging nations who are still starving) will solve this problem through Votes and \$. WE ARE DOOMED! This article tells us that!

May 23, 2010 10:31 am

How about a Schlitz? The one with gusto
The question is why do they take trivial ice melt and blow it up to dramatic proportions? It’s because that’s how propaganda works. The science is a failure and so they have to resort to other means to drive their policy.
Good post –

A C Osborn
May 23, 2010 10:31 am

That study was up till 2003, i.e. before the Grace Satellites, so there is a direct contradiction after 2003?

timetochooseagain
May 23, 2010 10:32 am

Here’s a “back of the envelope” calculation for you. Supposedly, if all of Greenland were to melt, sea level would rise 20 feet. So .007% is .0014 feet annually, .14 feet per century. Not exactly worth getting excited about. In order to get so much as a foot out of that, you’d need the rate to increase more than seven-fold.

Robert
May 23, 2010 10:35 am

Peter Miller
“So Greenland is rising – how the heck can these satellites accurately measure the volume of its ice cap, if this factor is not taken into account?”
This factor is taken into account, see Khan et al. 2010, for example. There are many locations which have Differential GPS on the bedrock of the GIS (Greenland Ice Sheet) which help scientists measure this. So before you speak, get your facts straight if you’re not an expert in the field. Secondly the volume of the ice cap is also measured using radar interferometry, climate modelling, radar altimetry and laser altimetry so we do have a decent clue.

May 23, 2010 10:36 am

Willis, you’re getting steamed about an article you read in Grist? Isn’t that like getting worked up about something you read in National Enquirer? I’d say save your bile for when (not if!) something very similar gets published in Nature or Science (but in the meantime, enjoy that Corona).
I’m a little surprised that no one else noticed or commented on this (alth. I’m short on time & just skimmed the comments – apologies if anyone did).
The issue of context & perspective is something I’ve been harping on to my nervous family & friends for years. Just last week I devised a little Dick & Jane story problem comparing worst-case scenario of the current gulf spill to the total volume of ocean waters in the photic (life-supporting) zone, re: those scare stories making the rounds of the enviro blogs: It’s a Global Catastrophe!!! It’s gonna kill every living thing in the oceans!!! I provided links to the data, and questions designed to encourage perspective-based conclusions. It’s really amazing how much more convincing & eye-opening that approach is than trying to force-feed conclusions.
So, thanks for the data, Willis. This post & comments is one of the best I’ve seen in a while. I’m gonna give it a few more days until it starts to peter out, and then copy/paste the whole thing into my Climate\Context_Historical Perspectives folder.

morgo
May 23, 2010 10:40 am

all the 5 year old kids know that the artic is melting and all the polar bears are going to drown there teachers told them, it must be true . HOW DO WE GET THE RIGHT MESSAGE THROUGH TO THEM ?

DCC
May 23, 2010 10:50 am

OT – sortof. Today we learn from Felisa Smith, et al, that the extinction of the mammoths triggered climate cooling 11,500 years ago – the Younger Dryas. (USA Today: http://tinyurl.com/3xjy755 references Nature: http://tinyurl.com/2bdgrle ) “coincident with the first large-scale migrations of humans into the Americas.”
Mammoth guts produce methane. No megafauna, less methane, less global warming.
The paper concludes with “We are not the first to suggest that human-mediated activities influenced the planet prior to the industrial age. Although still controversial, the megafaunal extinction is the earliest catastrophic event attributed to human activities.”
Oh puleeze! When will the asininity stop? So much for “peer-reviewed” literature.

May 23, 2010 10:55 am

Great analysis! I weigh 165 pounds and am trying to lose 13 pounds due to heart disease. Let me see…. If I lose this excess weight at the same rate as the Greenland icecap, it will only take me about 1,150 years to lose one pound. Truly a worthy goal and a cause for celebration. Mark it on your calendar and check back with me then.

Richard Sharpe
May 23, 2010 11:03 am

Robert says on May 23, 2010 at 10:35 am said

Peter Miller
“So Greenland is rising – how the heck can these satellites accurately measure the volume of its ice cap, if this factor is not taken into account?”
This factor is taken into account, see Khan et al. 2010, for example. There are many locations which have Differential GPS on the bedrock of the GIS (Greenland Ice Sheet) which help scientists measure this. So before you speak, get your facts straight if you’re not an expert in the field. Secondly the volume of the ice cap is also measured using radar interferometry, climate modelling, radar altimetry and laser altimetry so we do have a decent clue.

I think we know who hasn’t got a clue.

May 23, 2010 11:06 am

Bill Illis says:
May 23, 2010 at 8:58 am:
“… pretty soon, there will be an acceleration in sea level rise.”
Yes, that’s how it looks. But 2.99 mm/year = ≈3 cm/decade = 30 cm/century. A little less than a foot.
Isn’t that lower than the Holocene average?

Dr. Dave
May 23, 2010 11:10 am

The big number bias is common. It’s a means to robustify reported results.
As a kid growing up in Michigan back in the days when US automakers were profitable I would read about the UAW complaints in the paper. The unions claimed auto workers already bloated wages weren’t high enough because GM made a \$2 billion profit! Whatever the profit, it was never reported as a % margin, just a big number. Today politicians do the same thing with oil company profits. They only report the big number without respect for the actual % of the total because the profit margin for “big oil” is not at all impressive compared to Coke or Pepsi.
Warmists, and Al Gore in particular, always speak of mankind’s CO2 emissions in terms of tons of CO2. This sounds scary but is meaningless without the context of how many tons of CO2 is already in the atmosphere or better still, how many “tons” of atmosphere exist. Small fractional percentages and ppm just don’t grab the attention like a big number of tons.
BTW…what exactly is the tons to Lake Erie conversion?

Enneagram
May 23, 2010 11:13 am

There are two sides, two weather systems now:
One yellow, and hot, on the NA east cost and a purple, and cold, on the Asian east coast:
http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.html
Following GMF:
http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.html
Why, is it forbidden to ponder the following:
http://www.xearththeory.com/introdis_earth_electromagnetic_coil_transformers_step_up_down.html

Richard Sharpe
May 23, 2010 11:16 am

Paul Daniel Ash says on May 23, 2010 at 6:59 am said:

You guys always discount the downside risks. It would be an interesting intellectual exercise, except that you are gambling with huge stakes. Anyway, enjoy the beer.

So, please tell us what the downside risks are and what the stakes are and how large they actually are.

DirkH
May 23, 2010 11:17 am

“A C Osborn says:
May 23, 2010 at 10:26 am
I am not sure if anyone else has posted this here, but The Hockey Schtick has just posted a stidy that completely refutes what the Satellites are finding, the ice is growing at 5.4 cm/yr.”
http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~wsoon/MattCronin-Mar21-07-d/Johannessenetal05-GreenlandIceFinal.pdf
The paper is from 2005, measurements from 1992 to 2003 by satellites ERS-1 and ERS-2 – it would be conceivable that the GRACE instruments are more precise as they’re newer.

JimB
May 23, 2010 11:19 am

Hey Roger,
How do you measure something with “climate modelling”? My understanding was that any work with models involves measuring something(s), and feeding the measurements IN to the model.
Just trying to get my facts straight… 🙂
JimB

rogerkni
May 23, 2010 11:20 am

Chris Korvin says:
May 23, 2010 at 3:16 am
A common fallacy is the “if present trends continue”. I read that” if present trends continue” by 2030 ( I think it was) 40% of the worlds population will be Elvis impersonators.

I suspect the ice loss isn’t due to melting primarily, but mostly to glacial calving. (Ditto in the Antarctic.) I believe that glaciers in those regions are pushed outward mostly by the weight of precipitation in their interiors, and that the glaciers move in fits-and-starts for periods of decades. So it could be that glaciers at the moment are in a high-flow phase that is not representative of the long-term trend, but higher than it.

May 23, 2010 11:21 am

Historical evidence tells us that Greenland’s glaciers have retreated and advanced a few times since the Vikings first went there. I would guess often at faster rates than 200 km^3 per year. The AGW alarmists use the most hyperbolic references to elicit apprehension in the public, which is really despicable.
Straight-line extrapolation of an instantaneous (6 years to 15,000) rate is of course ridiculous, but useful to show how paltry the problem is.
AGW propagandists are not above doing this sort of thing.
Now for an exercise in climate science; 0.007% is 70 ppm loss per year (of the Greenland icesheet), and the yearly increase in CO2 is only 1 to 2 ppm, so OBVIOUSLY, increasing CO2 is not the main driver of Greenland’s ice melting, or global warming, LOL.
Or else, it’s worse than we think…

rogerkni
May 23, 2010 11:26 am

Willis says:
That’s my pet peeve, that numbers are being presented in the most frightening way possible. The loss of 200 km^3 of ice per year is not “some of the most powerful evidence of global warming”, that’s hyperbole. It is a trivial change in a huge block of ice.

Curiously, such hypocritical proponents of critical thinking as Michael Shermer typically have no problem with such hyperbole, because their critical thinking is generally deployed only on behalf of scientism, not against it.

ShrNfr
May 23, 2010 11:40 am

Given that they are measuring the gravity anomaly, rather than anything else, it is only one possibility that the decrease in the gravity anomaly is due to ice melt. It could well be so. However, other sources do spring to mind As such it is potential confirmation of ice melt, but not definitive confirmation of ice melt.

peterhodges
May 23, 2010 11:41 am

i don’t buy it at all. greenland and antarctica are gaining ice…buildings are being buried, and how about the glacier girl, buried under 270 ft of ice. that’s over 5ft a year.
south pole station
greenland DYE stations

Mike
May 23, 2010 11:44 am

Willis raises a reasonable point. But he frames it in a misleading way: “There is a new article about the Greenland results called Weighing Greenland.”
The article is a brief bio piece about Scott Luthcke who happens to work on estimating the mass of Greenland. If the article were about Greenland, then I would agree with Willis’s point. In fact I would make an even stronger criticism of the statement: “Greenland’s shrinking ice sheet offers some of the most powerful evidence of global warming.” No context is given for this. We are not told what the ice volume loss was estimated to be before Luthcke work or why a warmer Greenland is not a regional phenomenon.
I searched Grist’s website for articles about Greenland and found this:
http://www.grist.org/article/greenland2 (12 Jan 2009)
Massive Greenland meltdown? Not so fast, say scientists
The recent acceleration of glacier melt-off in Greenland, which some scientists fear could dramatically raise sea levels, may only be a temporary phenomenon, according to a study published Sunday.
There was also an article about making beer from glacier melt. That might by the real news story.

David Ball
May 23, 2010 11:47 am

May 23, 2010 at 5:47 am
Show me that it was BP that “modified” the blow-out preventer.

DaveK
May 23, 2010 11:51 am

Let’s do a comparison between this scary number and another that is probably equally or more scary… how much water vapor gets stripped from the earth’s upper atmosphere by solar winds? Our atmosphere is slowly being eroded, and it’s only a matter of (a very long) time before there is just nothing left!
I have no idea what the real numbers are, but can anybody come up with a ballpark estimate?

rogerkni
May 23, 2010 11:56 am

beng says:
May 23, 2010 at 6:21 am
I wonder what their most recent (last 6 months) show? This winter (2009-2010) featured a semi-permanent low just SW of Greenland pumping in moisture (snow) over southern Greenland.

Yeah, I’ve been thinking that their reliance on extrapolating this finding may come back to bite them in the behind, like their extrapolations of increasing hurricanes, decreasing Arctic ice cap, etc.

davidmhoffer
May 23, 2010 12:09 pm

Paul Daniel Ash says:
May 23, 2010 at 6:59 am
Is anyone talking about the loss of the Greenland Ice Cap? No, no they are not. So this is a ridiculous straw man>>
Paul, in any large organization or community there are two types of information upon which decisions are made. Percieved and reality. This is closely related to value which can also be percieved or real. When perception diverges from reality, bad decisions get made.
This kind of study is dangerous not because anyone is talking about the loss of the Greenland Ice Cap specificaly, nor because it is factualy innacurate. It is dangerous because the manner in which it is presented creates a perception that is out of proportion to reality. It is dangerous because the culture within the climate research community rewards perception management. Had the conclusion of the paper been that the changes measured were of complete insignificance, the likelihood for funding of follow up studies would be zero. The culture and funding mechanisms within the climate community promote the presentation of studies like this in such a manner that they seem significant and so worthy of being publsihed, quoted in the media, and of coure, further funding.
When perception management over rides reality in a single study, it is unimportant. When perception management becomes systemic, then perception continus to diverge from reality, and the perception managers must make increasingly alarmist statements and increasingly selective use of data to maintain the fiction that they have created. It happens in busines, and Fortune 500 companies have crashed and burned because of it.
But climate decisions aren’t about the 200,000 employees in a company who will be affected by bad decisions. Climate decisions are about the 7 billion people on the planet and how they will be affected. If CAGW happens, billions will die. If we cut fossil fuel consumption by 50% to 80% as proposed, billions will die.
So itz not about a straw man. Itz about debunking a study that adds to a false perception of reality instead of adding to a better understanding of reality. Itz about understanding that climate research happens in an environment where both the culture and the funding mechanisms influence perception management over reality. Itz about understanding that correcting this drift from reality can only be accomplished by debunking all the straws one at a time, until the straw man is gone and only the framework of reality upon which he is built remains.

Zeke the Sneak
May 23, 2010 12:09 pm

The GRACE satellites are also being used to determine the depletion of groundwater:

It’s very difficult for us to get information on groundwater depletion in developing countries, so any remote approach that can monitor it is extremely useful, and GRACE provides that,” says Bridget Scanlon, a hydrogeology professor at the University of Texas, Austin, who was not involved in the research. That information is sorely needed: Irrigated agriculture was responsible for most of the global freshwater resources consumed in the last century, she says. “If we don’t get a handle on this, our existing agriculture will simply be unsustainable.

It is good to keep a weather eye on GRACE, and the way it is being used to promote the AGW agenda, as well as other policies based on “sustainable”/rationing arguments.
I wonder how solid the science is behind it? There are a lot of anomolous accelerations which scientists are not able to explain. And I recall that the gravity readings for Venus’ surface are used by some planetary scientists to argue for a thick crust, and by others to argue for a thin crust!
What about earth’s varying efield, could that affect the readings? You will excuse the amateur musings 🙂

May 23, 2010 12:13 pm

Willis wrote:
“And as this is a family blog, I don’t want to revert to being the un-reformed cowboy I was in my youth, because if I did I’d start needlessly but imaginatively and loudly speculating on the ancestry, personal habits, and sexual malpractices of the author of said article … instead, I’m going to go drink a Corona beer and reflect on the strange vagaries of human beings, who always seem to want to read “bad news”.”
Old saying in the news biz: If it bleeds, it leads.

David Ball
May 23, 2010 12:13 pm

Excellent posting, Willis. I find it very revealing that what they leave out of these kind of articles, like the one you have just disembowelled, is more scary than the fear they seem to be trying (knowingly) to induce. They must know that they are leaving out important pieces of information. Or that they are incompetent in the extreme. Very scary either way. Why the need for their choir to be afraid all the time? Our choir does not need fear to manipulate. Even those who are “sold” on AGW, would have to acknowledge that this should raise some hard questions that need answers, not blind faith.

Hu McCulloch
May 23, 2010 12:18 pm

DavidB says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:01 am
The most useful way of indicating the importance of the ice melt would be to say what effect it has on sea level. Taking a rough value of 350 million square km for the sea surface of the earth, 200 cubic km would be spread very thin.

About .6mm /yr, or 6cm/century (assuming the past 6 years’ warmth continues…)

Grumpy Old Man
May 23, 2010 12:37 pm

Good post Willis with further explanation. But the forecast remains the same ; between 12k and 17 k, the Greenland ice cover will be gone. But the next ice age is just around the corner. Greenland has no need to worry.

Chris H
May 23, 2010 12:38 pm

Another way to put these trifling changes into perspective would be to express it as a proportion of the annual turnover of ice. Every year a huge quantity of water must fall as snow to be packed into ice and lost to the icesheet by melt and glacial calving. It would be utterly amazing if it was in such perfect equilibrium that it didn’t vary up and down a little.
I suspect one of the more erudite contributors may have the figures to hand.

Gary Pearse
May 23, 2010 12:40 pm

I didn’t read all the comments but has there been any calculations of sublimation losses during extended periods of cold by dry weather conditions. This would certainly be a factor in the interior of Anarctica where annual snow is a few centimetres. I remember as a child helping my mother hang out the clothes on the clothesline in our backyard in a Manitoba winter where they fairly handily dried in (-)30C. The steam from the laundry frosted your eye-lashes together and the sheets were like sheets of plywood for a while but as I recall, in a few hours, they were pretty dry.

Editor
May 23, 2010 12:42 pm

Robert says:
May 23, 2010 at 10:35 am
[…]
This factor is taken into account, see Khan et al. 2010, for example. There are many locations which have Differential GPS on the bedrock of the GIS (Greenland Ice Sheet) which help scientists measure this. So before you speak, get your facts straight if you’re not an expert in the field. Secondly the volume of the ice cap is also measured using radar interferometry, climate modelling, radar altimetry and laser altimetry so we do have a decent clue.

Crustal isostatic movement (Post Glacial Rebound, PGR) is taken into account to the degree with which it can be estimated.
In most cases the margin of error for the PGR is not much smaller than the volume of ice melt that is being asserted.
200 km^3/yr is well within the margin of error of any geophysical measurements of volumetric changes of a 3 million km^3 sheet of mobile ice.

Editor
May 23, 2010 12:47 pm

rogerkni says:
May 23, 2010 at 11:20 am
[…]
I suspect the ice loss isn’t due to melting primarily, but mostly to glacial calving. (Ditto in the Antarctic.) I believe that glaciers in those regions are pushed outward mostly by the weight of precipitation in their interiors, and that the glaciers move in fits-and-starts for periods of decades. So it could be that glaciers at the moment are in a high-flow phase that is not representative of the long-term trend, but higher than it.

Good point.
The ice maker in my freezer only “calves” ice cubes, when it’s making more ice than it can handle.
If the temperature in the freezer is too high, calving doesn’t occur.

Willis Eschenbach
May 23, 2010 12:47 pm

Jeff L says:
May 23, 2010 at 6:37 am (Edit)

tty says:
May 23, 2010 at 1:45 am
Willis Eschenbach says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:43 am
I think tty is correct on this one. GRACE is measuring changes in the gravitational field. Changes in the gravitational field are generated by any & all changes in lateral density contrasts, which would include isostatic, tectonic & ice volume changes. From the changes in the gravitational field, ice loss in inferred – but it is therefore implied all other potential sources of changes in field have been eliminated. I would say tty is correct in saying the error bars on this small number are considerably bigger than 10%. David Middleton’s post above would also support that the error bars are much greater than 10%. So what do you conclude…..
…. it’s worse than you thought :))
Not only is the ice loss an incredibly small #, but we also have big error bars on exactly what that number is …. and despite the fact the the original article claims it is due to AGW, I don’t see any data presented to support that hypothesis. So, we have an insignificantly small number with huge error bars being used as proof of a hypothesis with no link between cause & effect even attempted to be shown.
Now that’s some solid science!

Jeff L, you and tty are right about isostatic rebound, and I was wrong. The mass of the Greenland bedrock is not changing. But what I hadn’t considered is that when it moves closer to the GRACE satellites, it will be affecting the satellites more strongly. This will affect the results.
However, the GRACE folks are not fools. There’s a variety of discussions between the scientists involved on this exact subject here. So I would say that their error estimates are no more out of line than the rest of the basic scientists in the field … which is either damning with a faint praise, or praising with a faint damn …
Look, folks, the GRACE data is amazing stuff. It can detect the change in the weight of Brazil resulting from the annual hydrological cycle. The problem is not the data … it’s the spin, and we’re up to 45RPM and heading for 78RPM as we speak.

JJB
May 23, 2010 12:49 pm

Thanks for this enlightening article Willis – it’s good to see the AGW hyperbole put into perspective every now and then. It would be interesting to see a graphical representation of the 0.007% icecap ‘loss’ but not sure if my monitor’s big enough.. 🙂

Dave Andrews
May 23, 2010 1:16 pm

Toby,
Trenberth’s comment piece in Nature on the Lyman et al paper you link has to be one of the most ironic scientific articles I’ve ever read in Nature.
Basically, he says it does not amount to a hill of beans.

JimB
May 23, 2010 1:17 pm

“You guys always discount the downside risks. It would be an interesting intellectual exercise, except that you are gambling with huge stakes. Anyway, enjoy the beer.”
This snippy little line is incredibly deceitful at best.
Very easy to say the same…as in YOU guys always IGNORE the downside risks, however, that discussion ultimately digresses to facts, and then it seems to just end at that point.
There are ramifications to the course that Warmers would set us on, that are continually ignored by the AGW religion. And that’s a criticism you want to foist on US?
JimB

Gail Combs
May 23, 2010 1:34 pm

DirkH says:
May 23, 2010 at 10:04 am
“Paul Daniel Ash says:
[…]
And in “twenty years or so,” if the majority of the world’s scientists are drawing the correct conclusion from the data, we will be in that much worse of a pickle.”
Science is not about majorities, Paul. It’s about evidence. I think you’re confusing it with politics.
_________________________________________________________________________
No he just made a freudian slip, thats all because CAGW is all about politics not science.

Peter Miller
May 23, 2010 1:38 pm

Robert
“This factor is taken into account, see Khan et al. 2010, for example. There are many locations which have Differential GPS on the bedrock of the GIS (Greenland Ice Sheet) which help scientists measure this. So before you speak, get your facts straight if you’re not an expert in the field. Secondly the volume of the ice cap is also measured using radar interferometry, climate modelling, radar altimetry and laser altimetry so we do have a decent clue.”
GPS on the bedrock – beneath 2-3kms of ice?
Radar interferometry cannot accurately penetrate more than 100 metres of ice.
Radar altimetry can measure the surface of the ice, but not what the bedrock is doing.
Climate modelling – the voodoo or the astrological type?
Why are you alarmists always so impolite?

wayne
May 23, 2010 1:47 pm

Hi janama, thanks for this interesting link, now who would ever think it just might be magma and possibly even a volcano underneath Greenland? (a proper scientist)
Heat From Earth’s Magma Contributing To Melting Of Greenland Ice
Hot magma, loss of density, therefore loss of gravitational field implies mass loss, let alone the actual loss of mass from the deep melting underneath the ice sheet as this article indicates. Whether GRACE team is actually considering or correcting for this seems unknown at this point.

May 23, 2010 1:54 pm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/12/AR2010051202190.html
“BP agreed in 2004 to the installation of a test valve and replacement of another key part on the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer, even though it acknowledged that doing so would reduce redundancies and increase risks on the drilling rig.”
“A House energy panel investigation has found that the blowout preventer that failed to stop a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had a dead battery in its control pod, leaks in its hydraulic system, a “useless” test version of a key component and a cutting tool that wasn’t strong enough to shear through steel joints in the well pipe and stop the flow of oil.”

Stephen Brown
May 23, 2010 1:55 pm

Ahem, ahem, ahem. Exodus 22:24 reads as follows:-
“And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.”
One’s ‘wrath’ waxes hot, not ‘wroth’.
Picky, I know, but let’s get things right!
Otherwise … Spot on, Willis!!

Anu
May 23, 2010 1:57 pm

I’m all for extrapolating measurements 12,000 or 19,000 years into the future, whatever it takes. But that’s not necessary here.
According to this Science paper:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/326/5955/984
the total Greenland ice mass loss for 2000 to 2008 was 1500 Gt (166.66 Gt/yr).
Yet the loss rate in the final three years, 2006 to 2008, was 273 Gt/yr.
Hence, in 9 years, the ice mass loss accelerated by 273/166.66 = 1.638 times
Extrapolating this acceleration, we see every 9 years the mass loss will increase by a factor of 1.638.
In just 18 periods of 9 year accelerations, the rate of mass loss will be:
1.638^18 = 7,205.27 * 166.66 Gt/yr = 1,200,830 Gt/yr
18 * 9 = 162 years from the beginning year, 2000.
Since Greenland has only 2,850,000 cubic kilometers of ice, clearly it will all be gone way before 153 years from now – the three year average melting rate of 1,200,830 Gt/yr would melt it all in less than 3 years, plus you must integrate all the melt from the previous years to get the actual date of ice-free Greenland.
Certainly before 2162.
Great news for Denmark – long live the Queen.

May 23, 2010 1:58 pm

David, a bit more research, and Transocean claims BP paid for the changes to the BOP as it reduced the time to start the well. See testimony before Congress. More on the actual issue from Wikipedia, well sourced, go there:
“Attention has focused on the cementing procedure and the Cameron TL blowout preventer, which failed to engage.[34] A number of significant problems have been identified with the blowout preventer: There was a leak in the hydraulic system that provides power to the shear rams. The underwater control panel had been disconnected from the bore ram, and instead connected to a test hydraulic ram. The blowout preventer schematic drawings, provided by Transocean to BP, do not correspond to the structure that is on the ocean bottom. The blowout preventer shear ram would not have been powerful enough to cut through joints in the well pipe as it is only effective on the body of a drill pipe. The explosion may have severed the communication link so the blowout preventer would have never received the instruction to engage. Before the backup dead man’s switch could engage, communications, power and hydraulic lines must all be severed, and its possible hydraulic lines were intact after the explosion. Of the two control pods for the deadman switch, the one that has been inspected so far had a dead battery.[48]
In other testimony, the Minerals Management Service officials said there have been 39 fires or explosions offshore in the Gulf of Mexico in the first five months of 2009, the last period with statistics available.[30][41] There had been numerous previous spills and fires on the Deepwater Horizon, which had been issued citations for “acknowledged pollution source” by the Coast Guard 18 times between 2000 and 2010. The previous fires were not considered unusual for a Gulf platform and have not been connected to the April 2010 explosion and spill.[35] The Deepwater Horizon did, however, have other serious incidents including a 2008 incident where 77 persons were evacuated from the platform after it listed over and began to sink after a section of pipe was accidentally removed from the platform’s ballast system.[49] According to a report by 60 Minutes, the blowout preventer was damaged in a previously unreported accident four weeks before the April 20 explosion, and BP overruled the drilling operator on key operations. BP declined to comment on the report.[50]”

Gail Combs
May 23, 2010 1:58 pm

morgo says:
May 23, 2010 at 10:40 am
all the 5 year old kids know that the arctic is melting and all the polar bears are going to drown there teachers told them, it must be true . HOW DO WE GET THE RIGHT MESSAGE THROUGH TO THEM ?
___________________________________________________________________________
You have three options.
1. Remove your kid from the school and home school or private school.
2. Get together with some friends, storm the school and complain LOUDLY.
1. Get together with a couple of other friends who have kids that have had their children frightened by this PROPAGANDA, hire a lawyer and sue the britches off the school system and teacher.
The last one is unfortunately your best bet. No matter what the state of the science, NO Teacher has the RIGHT to frighten children into having nightmares. That is child abuse.
For your kid show them the video from The Minnesota Majority
The original may still be here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/21/second-mann-spoof-video-removed/#comment-374324
Other wise the second version is here:

mike Abbott
May 23, 2010 2:18 pm

I don’t know if this has been noted yet, but the article cited by Willis originally appeared on the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) web site. See: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/climate-scientist-scott-luthcke.html.
John Stossel calls the UCS web site a left wing “smear site” (see http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0405/stossel041305.php3.) A more detailed expose of the UCS titled “The Union of Concerned Scientists: It’s Jihad against Climate Skeptics” appears here: http://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pdf/v1186063502.pdf. If you use the WUWT search engine, you’ll find other articles about the UCS.

May 23, 2010 2:23 pm

Stephen Brown,
I know we talk funny over here, but my handy desktop dictionary says wroth is Old English for wrath; of German origin.

Dave Wendt
May 23, 2010 3:04 pm

Anu says:
May 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm
I’m all for extrapolating measurements 12,000 or 19,000 years into the future, whatever it takes. But that’s not necessary here.
According to this Science paper:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/326/5955/984
the total Greenland ice mass loss for 2000 to 2008 was 1500 Gt (166.66 Gt/yr).
Yet the loss rate in the final three years, 2006 to 2008, was 273 Gt/yr.
Hence, in 9 years, the ice mass loss accelerated by 273/166.66 = 1.638 times
Extrapolating this acceleration, we see every 9 years the mass loss will increase by a factor of 1.638.
The maps at the Drought Monitor site indicate that large parts of Greenland have been under severe to exceptional drought conditions for the best part of the last three years
http://drought.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/drought.html?map=%2Fwww%2Fdrought%2Fweb_pages%2Fdrought.map&program=%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmapserv&root=%2Fwww%2Fdrought2%2F&map_web_imagepath=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_imageurl=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_template=%2Fdrought.html
This would seem to indicate that lack of replenishment is a more likely culprit for the decline in mass balance, than enhanced melting. It seems a little unreasonable to project those drought conditions to persist and worsen for 150 years.

Anu
May 23, 2010 3:05 pm

mike Abbott says:
May 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Climate skeptics are much more at home at the Union of Unconcerned Scientists:
http://unconcernedscientists.org/
http://theeasternreview.com/issues/3/news/uus.shtml
Check it out.
Or not.
Whatever.

Dave Wendt
May 23, 2010 3:14 pm

Paul Daniel Ash says:
May 23, 2010 at 6:59 am
And if that terrifying rate of loss continues unabated, of course, it will all be gone in a mere 15,000 years.
Is anyone talking about the loss of the Greenland Ice Cap? No, no they are not. So this is a ridiculous straw man.
Go and scrutinize the Kerry Emmanuel video interview segment with the Boston Globe from a week ago
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/green/articles/2010/05/16/global_warming_debate_makes_climate_tough_on_friends/
Pay special attention at the 1;30-2:00 runtime. It certainly seems to me that KE is raising the spector of Greenland melting and creating 22 feet of sea level rise. I think he views himself as very much a member of the “consensus climate community”

r
May 23, 2010 3:15 pm

Glaciers pick up rocks, don’t they?
And then drop them into the sea?
Has anybody done a calculation of how much rock is lost in calved glaciers from Greenland every year?

Rob R
May 23, 2010 3:29 pm

Re the isostatic impact of changes in ice mass and ice distribution.
Upwards and downwards movement of the rock surface below the ice are not the only issue. Changes in ice loading force lateral movement within the semi-plastic rock that makes up the underlying mantle. This is what causes the development of widespread down-warping under icesheets, the surface bulging that surrounds major ice sheets, and the collapse of these isostatic bulges when an ice sheet melts.
So if there is isostatic rebound under Greenland part of this is due to a continuation of the horizontal movement of “soft” rock in the mantle. These movements can continue for 10’s of thousands of years after the main reduction or increase in ice mass. In the case of Greenland current isostatic rebound is accompanied by an inflow of rock mass at a depth of hundreds of km below the surface.
So clearly if there is long-term, ongoing, non-anthropogenic isostatic recovery from the last ice age then the mass of mantle rock beneath greenland must be increasing. How do they calculte this and separate it from changes in modern ice mass (last 10 to 20 yrs worth)? That can’t be easy and it is another potential source of error, as the rate of movement in the mantle will not be easy to measure directly. The best that can be done is to model it.

tty
May 23, 2010 3:32 pm

Willis Eschenbach:
“Jeff L, you and tty are right about isostatic rebound, and I was wrong. The mass of the Greenland bedrock is not changing. ”
Wrong again. What is actually happening with isostatic readjustment is that material is slowly flowing from areas that are sinking to areas that are rising, so yes, the mass of bedrock IS changing.

May 23, 2010 3:34 pm

Anu, how do I join the UUS? I need an application form, which I may or may not get around to completing if I should decide to become a member.☺
You’re right, scientific skeptics such as I would be much more at home there, than would be the frightened believers in looming climate catastrophe — who no doubt scream like terrified schoolgirls upon seeing a spider — whenever they read the next breathless account of rising sea levels or declining Arctic ice.

Willis Eschenbach
May 23, 2010 3:39 pm

tty says:
May 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Willis Eschenbach:

“Jeff L, you and tty are right about isostatic rebound, and I was wrong. The mass of the Greenland bedrock is not changing. ”

Wrong again. What is actually happening with isostatic readjustment is that material is slowly flowing from areas that are sinking to areas that are rising, so yes, the mass of bedrock IS changing.

I thought the magma was what was flowing, not the bedrock.

May 23, 2010 3:51 pm

I’m probably not the first, but anyway:
What’s that in elephants?

Zeke the Sneak
May 23, 2010 3:58 pm

“The current altitude is at sim 455 km with a decay rate of sim 18 m day. The ACC data with 5 seconds sampling from two GRACE satellites since July 2002 were analyzed to derive the total atmospheric neutral density. The necessary modeled non-gravitational accelerations were obtained from the precise orbit determination with the best fit to the GRACE GPS tracking data. The current model of the drag force specified by the atmospheric density and drag coefficient can only be predicted with an uncertainty no better than 12 for GRACE orbit using the existing empirical atmospheric density and gas-surface interaction model. The total atmospheric densities from GRACE and models DTM-78 and NRLMSISE-00 were normalized to the altitude of 470 km to study the density variations…”

Well I think it is interesting that they do have to try to model and adjust for non-gravitational acceleration, because it is losing altitude over the years.

MaxL
May 23, 2010 4:01 pm

I am confused as to the “percent” rate of ice loss. Maybe I am misreading something, or someone can correct me on this. The amount ice lost is given as 200 km^3 per year which I assume is taken to be constant. The total amount of ice is about 3,000,000 km^3. The period stated to get rid of all the ice is 15,000 years which is fine. However, the percent rate seems to be stated as a constant .007% per year. This only works for the first year. The percent rate will increase exponentially as the volume of ice decreases while the loss rate remains constant. Am I missing something?

C.W. Schoneveld
May 23, 2010 4:09 pm

@ Willis Eschenbach:
“So I would say that their error estimates are no more out of line than the rest of the basic scientists in the field … which is either damning with a faint praise, or praising with a faint damn …”
I prefer the original continuation of Pope line:
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
[And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.]

David Ball
May 23, 2010 4:21 pm

May 23, 2010 at 1:58 pm
BP did not in fact do the modification, only paid to have it done. If done incorrectly, would that be the responsibility of the contrcator or the contractee?

Amino Acids in Meteorites
May 23, 2010 4:24 pm

“This topic is a particular peeve of mine, so I hope I will be forgiven if I wax wroth.”
You’re not supposed to get emotional over ‘global warming’. That Canadian guy says to walk it off when you feel emotions. 😉

u.k.(us)
May 23, 2010 4:25 pm

tty says:
May 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm
“What is actually happening with isostatic readjustment is that material is slowly flowing from areas that are sinking to areas that are rising, so yes, the mass of bedrock IS changing.”
======================
I assume this is a theory?, considering the specific gravity of the magma underlying the crust is in flux.

David Ball
May 23, 2010 4:33 pm

Brad, thank you for the info by the way. Always helpful to have as much info as possible. Wikipedia always makes me feel like I have been molested and unclean afterwards (if only due to William Connelly). Maybe it is just me. I am NOT a conspiracy theorist ( man DID walk on the Moon, 911 was NOT perpetrated by Americans, etc.) but the timing of this spill could not have been better for the alternative energy concerns. That is irrefutable.

Ron Pittenger, Heretic
May 23, 2010 4:37 pm

Willis, do you offer a course in creative cursing? I confess I get tired of using and re-using the same dozen or so tired phrases each day when reading the political news. I might be interested in such a course. (Actually, if devoted to cursing, would it be more proper to call it a coarse?) Also, I highly recommend Sam Adams Boston Lager when you need a change from Corona; since you won’t need the limes, think of the savings!

Enneagram
May 23, 2010 5:00 pm

Bulk density varies with temperature.

Billy Liar
May 23, 2010 5:02 pm

Mods! can someone help ‘Brad’ to an appropriate blog – he appears to be obsessing about blame for an oil leak in the Gulf – perhaps ‘Lawyers-R-Us’?

F. Ross
May 23, 2010 5:02 pm

…and if that rate continues, since this is May 23rd, 2010, the Greenland Ice Cap will disappear entirely somewhere between the year 14010 and the year 21010 … on May 23rd …

Well sure, but what time of day? It’s important.

May 23, 2010 5:20 pm

Corona? Everyone knows that Negra Modelo is the best beer in Mexico! Although, I tend to choose an IPA or a stout, I do enjoy a Negra Modelo on a hot day.
And the hot wax thingie. I have it on good authority that hot wax is painful. It is best avoided.
Other than those two items, great post!
Regards,
Steamboat Jack
(Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

May 23, 2010 5:22 pm

ok, so if true we now know where approximately 0.5 mm/yr of the 2 mm/yr sea level rise comes from. We already knew about the 2 mm/yr rise, so finding out what contributes to that is hardly alarming. Since the rest of the rise must come from either other ice melting or ocean thermal expansion, then if Greenland is melting more than we thought it follows that other ice isn’t or the oceans are not warming as much. So when do we see that story?

rogerkni
May 23, 2010 5:23 pm

“You guys always discount the downside risks. It would be an interesting intellectual exercise, except that you are gambling with huge stakes. Anyway, enjoy the beer.”

“Always” isn’t true. Many of us,probably most of us, favor some form of “no regrets” mitigation policies. E.g., moving toward nuclear, fusion research, encouraging increasing use of natural gas, encouraging better insulation, coal gasification, plasma incineration (see Prescription for the Planet), more hydropower, and a few others I can’t recall. What we’re opposed to is any forced march in that direction based on carbon-taxing or capping, which presumes falsely that wind, wave, and solar power (the classic “renewables”) are practical now or in the near future.
We also disbelieve that if “we” (the US, or the West) “do something,” that it will make a difference in the world’s co2 emissions. The rest of the world will not follow in our footsteps. The amount of money that it would take to get them to do so would bankrupt us. A saner course is adaptation, plus geo-engineering if necessary..

wayne
May 23, 2010 5:39 pm

Anu says:
May 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Extrapolating this acceleration, we see every 9 years the mass loss will increase by a factor of 1.638. […] Since Greenland has only 2,850,000 cubic kilometers of ice, clearly it will all be gone way before 153 years from now – the three year average melting rate of 1,200,830 Gt/yr would melt it all in less than 3 years,
Well Anu, all I can say is if you ever hope to achieve your Greenland accelerating exponential extrapolation melt scheme, you first should have a long serious sit-down with ol’ Sol for he keeps assuring me lately he is just going to remain skeptical! 🙂

Bulldust
May 23, 2010 5:47 pm

Jeez Willis… you had me all the way to Corona. I mean WT? I cannot for the life of me figure out why people drink that when there are perfectly good beers going untapped. If you have a hankering for Mexican beer then at least get something decent like a Negra Modello, or Bohemia … even Dos Equis.
Believe it or not, Aussies drink more Corona than any other import… it defies all logic I tells ya. Personally I am fond of Toohey’s Old, a fine winter drop if not served too cold.
As for the original topic I think Aesop summed this up some time back:
“We can easily represent things as we wish them to be.”
Smart chappie that…

Marc77
May 23, 2010 5:52 pm

You don’t need global warming to get a shrinking of Greenland. The ice might melt from the bottom due to geothermal heat insulated under the ice cap. And then the shrinking would come from the lack of new snow on the top.
I don’t say that Greenland is not shrinking because of global warming. What I say is they don’t make a proof of it because many variables can act on the ice thickness.

May 23, 2010 6:12 pm

Is it just me, or do those two look too much like Douglas Adam’s Vogon Constructor Fleet ships from the TV series? Should I be concerned? Now that would be a catastrophe worth worrying about!

Zeke the Sneak
May 23, 2010 6:19 pm

“Bulk density varies with temperature.” ~Enneagram
But they are using the GRACE data to try to find out what the densities are in the upper atmosphere:
http://lws-trt.gsfc.nasa.gov/trt04_Crowley.pdf
It’s just interesting that the drag and neutral density of the upper atmosphere, right where GRACE is (500-450 km), are under study. In that paper, they are examining the variability of the density of the thermosphere with Solar activity. (!!!)
Thanks Enneagram.

Zeke the Sneak
May 23, 2010 6:32 pm

Is it possible that GRACE could get different drag rates in the thermosphere because of Solar activity, too?
Someone else mentioned that there might be lunar gravity effects on the satellites.

May 23, 2010 6:53 pm

fredb says:
May 23, 2010 at 5:22 am

Valid point — EXCEPT: it ignores issues of
a) the loss is monotonic and suggests a drivers as opposed to variability, and
b) if (a) is true, that current physical understanding would indicate this is the early portion of an accelerating process with local positive feedbacks.

But yours is not even a slightly valid point.
(a) “Suggests drivers”. Drivers of what? SUV’s perhaps. The result is tiny, insignificant, and could as well be an error as a real measurement.
(b) ignoring the fact that (a) is ridiculous and unfounded, what indicates to you that this result is “the early portion of an accelerating process with local positive feedbacks”? There is no evidence of this, and no reason to suppose there should be.
Go back to church and learn the dogma correctly, my son. Clearly your faith is strong, but your understanding is weak!

Amino Acids in Meteorites
May 23, 2010 7:31 pm

Bulldust says:
May 23, 2010 at 5:47 pm
Try a mixture, 1/2 Bass Ale, 1/2 Guinness Extra Stout, mmm, mmm, good!
back on topic:
I like what Richard Lindzen has been saying lately: everything happening in climate now, including Greenland and Arctic ice, is within the range of normal.

oakgeo
May 23, 2010 7:38 pm

“Willis Eschenbach says:
May 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm
….
I thought the magma was what was flowing, not the bedrock.”
Rock is ductile under favorable heat-pressure-time conditions. At depth, isostatic rebound will manifest as ductile strain (or flow), while at or near surface there can be brittle failure.

Rob R
May 23, 2010 8:23 pm

Willis
Oakgeo has it correct.
There are numerous papers in a variety of Geophysical and Geological journals on the processes involved in crustal; and mantle reactions to isostatic lowading and unloading by ice. This includes geodetic measurements on land, and numerous studies of sea level change, both in “near-field” and “far-field” situations.
Please note that deap-seated movement of rock associated with icesheet isostacy has nothing to do with magma. The deep rock is ductile but remains in the solid state. There are isostatic impacts on land surface elevation up to several thousands of km from the major transient icesheets (The Laurentide and Fennoscandian icesheets) as well as more localised effects due to ice in Patagonia and the Southern Alps (NZ), as well assubstantial effects from changes to the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Such effects have been studied using uplifted and tilted marine and lake beaches and coral reefs in areas that are known to be tectonically stable.
It is also worth noting that changes in the distribution of ice and water over the earth’s surface have an impact on the earth’s rate of rotation.

Keith Minto
May 23, 2010 9:17 pm

From the p.d.f by Zeke the Sneak,

2.1.4 What are the uncertainties in the GRACE (and CHAMP) density estimates?
We have continued effort directed at the improvement of the GRACE accelerometer data analysis for recovering
the atmospheric neutral density. This is a complicated problem because of the extreme sensitivity of the GRACE
accelerometer, and lack of accurate models for the interaction of the satellite surface with atmosphere and the
knowledge of the atmosphere rotation and winds.

Makes you wonder how the accelerometer(s) survived acceleration into orbit.

Anu
May 23, 2010 9:18 pm

Dave Wendt says:
May 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm
This would seem to indicate that lack of replenishment is a more likely culprit for the decline in mass balance, than enhanced melting. It seems a little unreasonable to project those drought conditions to persist and worsen for 150 years.

we find that Greenland is losing around 0.005% — 0.008% of its ice annually, and if that rate continues, since this is May 23rd, 2010, the Greenland Ice Cap will disappear entirely somewhere between the year 14010 and the year 21010

I’m doing an unreasonable projection of a growing rate of melting for only 153 years.
Willis is doing an unreasonable projection of a constant rate of melting for 12,000 to 19,000 years.
Clearly, my extrapolation is 78.43 to 124.18 times more reasonable than his.

899
May 23, 2010 9:21 pm

Willis! Dude!
A MOST excellent exposition!
Keep’em coming.
Now, about that beer. You ought try a Lagunitas IPA.
Good for the soul!
Beer speaks. People mumble.

May 23, 2010 11:08 pm

Interesting read. I agree that sometimes we jump to conclusions based on limited data. As you said, we’ve only seen things through the GRACE satellite for 6 years

Jack Simmons
May 23, 2010 11:24 pm

May 23, 2010 at 5:47 am

First major oil landfall in LA is predicted to be today.

They’ve been predicting oil landfall “any day” now for weeks.

Jack Simmons
May 23, 2010 11:32 pm

This means that Greenland is losing about 0.007% of its total mass every year

Sounds like one of my diets.

Beth Cooper
May 23, 2010 11:43 pm

Willis and Anthony, do you think we have enough scare reports gleaned from respectable science publications to print our own Guiness Book of AGW Dire Prediction Records?

Eduardo Ferreyra
May 24, 2010 12:01 am

Hi, Willis,
Corona sucks! Never drink a beer that comes in clear glass bottles. Light makes beer go soft. Why don’t you try any of those 9º alcohol beers as Canadian Maudite, or good Belgian Lambics as Chimay? I wouldn’t recommend Samuel Adams’ Special edition of at \$1,000 the 1 liter bottle, but maybe you can convince Bill Gates or Michael Mann to invite you one… they handle big money, you know 😉
BTW, excellent post. It goes into Spanish to our wesite -with your permission, of course.

Al Gored
May 24, 2010 1:03 am

Well, here it comes! The pseudoscience called Conservation Biology, the twisted sister of IPCC ‘global climatology,’ will soon become more of a headliner.
This “mission-oriented science” begins with the premise that everything is going extinct. Evidence, schmevidence, its an emergency!
—————
UN says case for saving species ‘more powerful than climate change’
Goods and services from the natural world should be factored into the global economic system, says UN biodiversity report
• Economic report into biodiversity crisis reveals price of consuming the planet
Juliette Jowit guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 May 2010
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/21/un-biodiversity-economic-report
————
“The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has previously estimated that species are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than it would naturally be without humans.”
Sadly, even though there is a very genuine basis for concerns here, the IPCC gang has nothing on these folks for hysterical and unfounded allegations. It all sounds soooo scary until you look into the actual details. Just like this Greenland case only, if you can believe it, worse.

May 24, 2010 2:19 am

Willis, your teaching is, once again, absolutely brilliant. Occaisonally, those of us who taught practical stuff to kids got inspired, but you seem to be inspired most of the time.
One of my bursts of inspiration came when attempting to teach twelve-year-old high school kids how a gear train works – I drew some illustrations on the chalk-board, then got the kids up on their feet, pushed the furniture back to the edges of the room then had them form three rings, holding hands with their partners. I then got them to do a sort of folk dance, with me as caller and pushing and pulling kids in the approriate directions. It was energetic, it was fun and it worked; the kids soon realised how each meshed gear reversed direction from the gear it meshed with as the three gears thrashed about the classroom. When we had got our breath back, we spent the rest of the period with them drawing gear trains using various ratios.
Senior high school kids everywhere should be exposed to your clear and enlightening posts/teaching as an antitdote to being frightened by the nonsense promulgated by alarmists which comes packaged as science.

melinspain
May 24, 2010 3:02 am

Al Gored says:
May 24, 2010 at 1:03 am
Can somebody list 10 (ten) species that have become extinct (100% certified human and/or natural causes) in the last 100 (one hundred) years?
Thank you Al

May 24, 2010 4:24 am

An interesting but underwhelming analysis on what is happening to the second largest (9.8%) ice inventory on Earth. Cannot wait for the analysis of what is happening in Antarctica which contanes 89.8% of the world’s ice. But don’t hold your breath. Since temperatures near the South pole have been declining over the last few decades and periodically weather stations have to be rebuilt to replace the ones getting buried in snow and ice, any analysis here would negate the one for Greenland and then some by at least 9 to 1.

May 24, 2010 4:47 am

This month’s National Geographic claims that the annual Greenland ice loss is 50 cubic miles (approx 80 cubic kilometres) and the ice sheet will disappear over the coming centuries.
We’re all doomed…assuming we live to about 18052!

DennisA
May 24, 2010 5:32 am

An interesting history of the Greenland climate from the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
http://www.um.dk/Publikationer/UM/English/Denmark/kap7/7-1-19.asp#7-1-19
Until around 4500 BC, the remains of the mighty ice cap which had been left over from the last ice age covered parts of Arctic Canada and blocked the way to Greenland. The first people arrived in the northernmost part of Greenland in around 2500 BC, and in the course of a few hundred years the ice-free part of the island became home to an Arctic tribe of hunters known as the palaeo-Eskimos. The warmer climate which appeared once the ice had gone allowed the population to increase rapidly.
Towards the end of the 10th century the climate became warmer, and the change affected all those living in the northern hemisphere. Much of the ice in the seas around the Canadian archipelago disappeared, and baleen whales moved into the area to search for food. Eskimo whalers from northern Alaska sailed east in their large, skin-covered boats and reached Greenland in the 12th century.

Editor
May 24, 2010 6:21 am

Prefering to think of things visually, I did a quick calculation. If you represent Greenland by a block of ice 1.3m x 1.3m x 1.3m, the volume lost per year would be 1mm x 1mm x 1mm (using the minimum of Willis’ figures for Greenland ice volume). For those of you who prefer feet and inches, think 4ft per dimension for the big block and <1/16th inch for the block representing the portion lost each year. I would have drawn it, but for something drawn to scale that fits on a blog page the block representing ice loss per year is almost too small to see.

Mike Ozanne
May 24, 2010 6:23 am

Willis , good news rarely sells newspapers and definetly won’t panic government into signing off a large funding proposal. Things are always unexpected, unprecedented and “worse than we thought” . Not just in climate matters either, See Elizabeth Pisani’s “wisdom of whores”* on how data was “beaten up” to generate publicity and increase access to funding for HIV/AIDS programs and how not always optimum results have been achieved with the spend. And their problem was at least visible in a microscope and the treatment verifiable by double blind testing. In fact what she calls “the AIDS industry” should be seen as a template for the waste and misdirection that will occur once the funding cycle shifts from “research” into “intervention”
* I don’t often wax lyrical but this is one book that should be compulsory reading in all schools and sod the Texas school board….:-)

Mike Ozanne
May 24, 2010 6:45 am

“melinspain says:
May 24, 2010 at 3:02 am
Al Gored says:
May 24, 2010 at 1:03 am
Can somebody list 10 (ten) species that have become extinct (100% certified human and/or natural causes) in the last 100 (one hundred) years?
Thank you Al”
Madeiran Large White Pieris brassicae wollastoni, declared extinct on 29-30 October 2007
Pyrenean Ibex, Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica, 6 January 2000
Zanzibar Leopard, Panthera pardus adersi, 1996
Atitlan Grebe, Podilymbus gigas, 1987
Bali Tiger, Panthera tigris balica, 1972
Santo Stefano Lizard, Podarcis sicula sanctistephani, 1965
Thicktail Chub, Gila crassicauda, 1957
Japanese Sea Lion, Zalophus japonicus, 1950s
Tasmanian Tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus, 7 September 1936
More on :
http://www.petermaas.nl/extinct/mostrecent.htm

John Galt II
May 24, 2010 8:55 am

Fear mongers to gain political control – real scientists (and journalists) are insulted.
Yes, the ICE melts.(and ‘disappears’)
Then, the ICE freezes. (and ‘reappears’)
Dr. Lindzen is saying Ice Age in the future, I will go with that.
Obviously, there was a very significant warming to allow Farming by the Vikings in Greenland.
There is an awful lot of money being spent to nano-analyze what any good scientific reference will show. Earth warms – then cools, uh- really!
Perhaps if man kind blew the entire nuclear arsenal, we might have a temporary effect – but the earth will rapidly (in the earths time frame) reach equilibrium without us.

John Galt II, RA
May 24, 2010 9:05 am

Equilibrium – all systems seek it! (including the earth and political) –
The point Willis is making is not about the ICE but about the FEAR MONGERING TACTICS used to gain political control.
S. Opalek, PE
An interesting but underwhelming analysis on what is happening to the second largest (9.8%) ice inventory on Earth. Cannot wait for the analysis of what is happening in Antarctica which contains 89.8% of the world’s ice. But don’t hold your breath. Since temperatures near the South pole have been declining over the last few decades and periodically weather stations have to be rebuilt to replace the ones getting buried in snow and ice, any analysis here would negate the one for Greenland and then some by at least 9 to 1.”
ICE melts, ICE freezes, the earth is moving, etc., I am glad who ever set this whole system up was smarter than all of the ‘scientists’ around.

Craig Loehle
May 24, 2010 9:15 am

Remember that with all seriousness various alarmists claim that if it gets warmer, the Greenland glaciers will slide into the sea, whoosh, just like that. Even though the bulk of the ice is in a large basin at very high elevation that does not really get above freezing ever. Which is why it is still there when the rest of the Pleistocene ice cap has vanished.

rogerkni
May 24, 2010 9:25 am

Eduardo Ferreyra says:
May 24, 2010 at 12:01 am
Corona sucks! Never drink a beer that comes in clear glass bottles. Light makes beer go soft.

Ernest Hemingway once fondly recalled his favorite ad from his youth: “Drink xxxx-brand beer in brown bottles and avoid that skunk taste.”

May 24, 2010 11:39 am

If one wonders why poeple of the skeptic side get annoyed. after reading the above guest post, I went to one of the warmist sites and they are rubbing their hands in glee over the following article.
in which it states we have several lines of independant “evidence”, yet throughout the article you see the words, believed, possible, and probable.
Does anyone else get frustrated with the warmist side or is it just a few of us?
Monday, 24 May, 2010
Greenland rising faster as ice loss accelerates
We have several independent lines of evidence that Greenland is losing ice at an accelerating rate. Satellite altimetry find glaciers are sliding faster downhill and dumping more ice into the ocean. Altimetry data also find the ice sheet is thinning. An overall picture is obtained by satellites measuring the gravity around the ice sheet. Another line of evidence has now been added to this picture with GPS measurements finding that Greenland is losing ice so quickly, the land is now rising up at an accelerating rate.
These results are published in Accelerating uplift in the North Atlantic region as an indicator of ice loss (Jiang 2010). The study looks at high-precision global positioning system (GPS) data that measure the vertical motion of the rocky margins around Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard. The weight of ice sheets push down on the bedrock it rests on. As the ice sheets lose mass, the bedrock rises. This process, known as Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA), has been happening since the planet came out of an ice age around 17,000 years ago. How do we know whether current uplift might be a delayed response to glacial retreats from thousands of years ago? To avoid the effect of past events, this study focuses on vertical acceleration rather than velocities. The results are therefore insensitive to GIA-related motions from past ice mass changes.
What they find is crustal uplift in Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard is accelerating. Extrapolating the acceleration backwards in time finds the acceleration began after 1990. The acceleration of uplift over the past decade represents an essentially instantaneous, elastic response to recent accelerated melting of ice throughout the North Atlantic region.
Figure 1: GPS measurements for the North Atlantic region. The numbers (eg – 0.6 mm/yr2) show the amount of acceleration. The red (upper) time series (Greenland, Iceland) show positive acceleration and the blue (lower) time series (Fennoscandia, Canada) show no significant acceleration.
From the rates of uplift around Greenland, they estimate ice loss is accelerating at 21.2 gigatonnes/yr2. This agrees well with other estimates of ice loss accelerating at around 21 gigatonnes/yr2. The following shows estimates of the rate of Greenland ice loss measured from satellite altimetry, GRACE gravity data and net accumulation/loss measurements.
Figure 2: Rate of ice loss from Greenland. Vertical lines indicate uncertainty, horizontal lines indicate averaging time. Blue circles are from altimetry, red squares are from net accumulation/loss and green triangles are from GRACE. The black line is a straight-line (constant acceleration) fit through the mass balance data for the period 1996–2008 with a slope of 21 gigatonnes/yr2.
So combining altimetry, net accumulation/loss, GRACE gravity data and GPS measurements, we find multiple lines of evidence converging on a single answer: Greenland is losing ice mass at an accelerating rate. If this acceleration continues, Greenland could soon become the largest contributor to global sea level rise
Lastly, one interesting point. The amount of uplift in Greenland varies from location to location, from 1.4 mm per year in northwest Greenland to over 10 mm per year in other places. In some locations, this exceeds the current rate of global sea level rise which is around 3.2 mm per year. Greenland’s uplift rate is predicted to double by 2025. Sadly, this doesn’t mean we can now relax about sea level rise – unless you have a huge melting ice sheet in your neighbourhood, you’re unlikely to see uplift rates like those seen in Greenland.

bob
May 24, 2010 12:01 pm

Recently a paper reported that the amount of ice loss from Greenland was accelerating.
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo845.html
From that information and a little calculation, perhaps if that acceleration continues the Greenland Ice Sheet could be gone in between 426 and 670 years.
But it is all cyclical, so I would predict the ice loss will stop accelerating and the ice loss will diminish or even stop dimimishing and increase.

Milwaukee Bob
May 24, 2010 12:24 pm

Willis Eschenbach at 11:04 am said:
Nope, you are correct.
To – MaxL (May 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm) that said:
……..the percent rate seems to be stated as a constant .007% per year. This only works for the first year. The percent rate will increase exponentially as the volume of ice decreases while the loss rate remains constant.
That means in 17011 we’ll have a 100% ice loss year! Thank God I’ll be on the third planet from Gliese 581 that year on a fact finding mission for The Federation.

Milwaukee Bob
May 24, 2010 12:28 pm

Does anyone else get frustrated with the warmist side or is it just a few of us?
YES!

Barry Kearns
May 24, 2010 2:11 pm

Anu says:
May 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm
I’m all for extrapolating measurements 12,000 or 19,000 years into the future, whatever it takes. But that’s not necessary here.
According to this Science paper:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/326/5955/984
the total Greenland ice mass loss for 2000 to 2008 was 1500 Gt (166.66 Gt/yr).
Yet the loss rate in the final three years, 2006 to 2008, was 273 Gt/yr.
Hence, in 9 years, the ice mass loss accelerated by 273/166.66 = 1.638 times
Extrapolating this acceleration, we see every 9 years the mass loss will increase by a factor of 1.638.
In just 18 periods of 9 year accelerations, the rate of mass loss will be:
1.638^18 = 7,205.27 * 166.66 Gt/yr = 1,200,830 Gt/yr
18 * 9 = 162 years from the beginning year, 2000.

During my morning commute today, there was a time interval during which my hybrid automobile went from 10 MPH to 20 MPH over a span of 3 seconds (~3.33 MPH/sec), and then from 20 MPH to 50 MPH over a span of 6 additional seconds (5 MPH/sec).
Hence, in 9 seconds, the speed of the vehicle accelerated by 5/3.33 = 1.5 times.
Extrapolating this acceleration, we see that every 9 seconds the speed will increase by a factor of 1.5.
Roughly 60 seconds later, my car will break the sound barrier. After a total of 140 seconds, my car will reach escape velocity for planet Earth. Within six minutes, it will be going roughly 82.5% of the speed of light (in a vacuum), at which point relativistic effects will begin dominating the rest of my trip… which, due to time dilation, should allow me to reach any point in the universe in no more than an hour or so subjective time.

Anu
May 24, 2010 2:45 pm

Barry Kearns says:
May 24, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Don’t be silly – hybrid space vehicles reach a maximum velocity, then coast at a constant rate for 12,000 to 19,.000 years.
Like Voyager 2.
It’s a question of fuel.

Barry Kearns
May 24, 2010 3:12 pm

Nah, I’ve got regenerative braking on my hybrid, so I should get going as fast as possible. That way, the energy that I recapture on the braking leg should be enough to power an industrial civilization at the destination end for quite some time.
Plus, I got a nice tax credit.

Jim G
May 24, 2010 3:16 pm

As I said before, John Wayne is credited as having said that “life is tough and it’s tougher if you’re stupid”. Remember, that by definition, the average IQ is 100 which leaves a huge portion of the population below that level. Room temperature IQ’s can now obtain any degree they desire if they have the time and money: PHD, MD, no area of education is exempt from this rule. A hundred or so years ago if you were stupid you might not make it to pass along your weak genes. Not so more recently. Most people today would not even grasp the meaning of .007%. The 15000 years, maybe, but they would probably still be worried. There ain’t no cure for stupid.

Bill Illis
May 24, 2010 5:24 pm

Just doing some more number-crunching (basic math is the way to check these global warming scares).
The Greenland ice-sheet has a total area of 1,710,000 square kilometres. For there to be a loss of 200 cubic kilometres of ice volume, the ice-sheet elevation has to be declining by 11.7 cm/year.
Laser and radar altimetry shows that the average elevation of the Greenland ice-sheet was falling by 1.7 and 1.8 cm/year until 2004 (there may have been an acceleration since 2004 but no study seems to translate that into a straight average number, they just split the numbers into different changes at different elevations).
The glacial isostatic rebound of Greenland is said to be less than 1 cm/year, so until 2004, the net ice-sheet elevation was only declining by 2.7 cm/year or just 47 cubic kilometres per year – a factor of 4 lower.

Jack Simmons
May 24, 2010 5:47 pm

Mike Ozanne says:
May 24, 2010 at 6:45 am

Madeiran Large White Pieris brassicae wollastoni, declared extinct on 29-30 October 2007
Pyrenean Ibex, Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica, 6 January 2000
Zanzibar Leopard, Panthera pardus adersi, 1996
Atitlan Grebe, Podilymbus gigas, 1987