From #AGU14 Surprising findings in Greenland's melt dynamics – glaciers retreated rapidly between 1900 and 1930

I’m at AGU 2014, thanks to the generous assistance of readers. This is one of the presentations yesterday that caught my eye. One other thing I did notice was that in the poster sessions (which have doubled in size this year) have a lot to say about carbon soot in the Arctic and Southern Greenland as a driver of ice melt. I’ll have more on that later.

Greenland-2[1]San Francisco, California —A combination of new tools and old photographs are giving scientists a better view of Greenland’s ice, and recent discoveries promise to improve forecasts of the region’s future in a warmer world. Overall, the findings show Greenland’s ice is vulnerable to periods of rapid change including vicious cycles of warming promoting further warming.

“In the next century, Greenland melt may raise global sea level by one to three feet,” said Mike MacFerrin, a researcher with CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “As melting increases in Greenland, we’re discovering that melt water interacts with the ice sheet in unexpected ways. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial to predicting how Greenland’s ice responds to a warming climate, now and in the future.”

MacFerrin spoke during a news briefing at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California. There, four experts on Greenland highlighted several new findings related to water and ice on the northern island. Some emerged from the discovery and analysis of historic photographs of coastal glaciers; others from hard work dragging ground-penetrating radar across the ice sheet and a series of new imaging techniques innovated during NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission.

The researchers discussed the implications of newly discovered ice layers perched just underneath the surface high on the ice sheet: they likely contributed to damaging coastal floods in 2012 and are poised to contribute more in the future. Firn aquifers, recently found beneath porous snow layers, store substantial amounts of liquid water year round and represent a vast reservoir within the ice. This water contributes to a complex hydrologic system within the ice, both storing and releasing water. And surface lakes that hold liquid water through Greenland’s frigid winters are likely warming the ice sheet, priming it for further melt during summer.

“Many of these discoveries are clears signs of a warming ice sheet,” MacFerrin said. “New tools are allowing us to see these subsurface processes for the first time. If we’re going to understand Greenland’s melt contribution to sea-level rise, we need to understand these new melt features and dynamics.”

Old photos, new insights

Greenland’s glaciers retreated rapidly between 1900 and 1930 as the Little Ice Age lost its grip on the region and temperatures climbed. By analyzing early photos of Greenland paired with contemporary ones, researcher Anders Bjork with the Natural History Museum of Denmark has for the first time mapped out the retreat of those glaciers over time.

Greenland-3

“Satellites obviously do not cover the early 1900s, when the region experienced a rapid increase in temperatures,” Bjork said. But with time constraints provided by historic photographs, he and his colleagues recorded a remarkably quick ice response between 1900 and 1930, more rapid than seen in the last 15 years, he said. The new data promise to help researchers understand how quickly glaciers can react to temperature changes, which is important today as the Arctic climate warms again.

Unfrozen

Across wide areas of Greenland researchers are finding, that water can remain liquid, hiding in layers of snow just below the surface, even through cold, harsh winters. The discoveries—made by teams including Rick Forster of the University of Utah and Lora Koenig of the National Snow and Ice Data Center—mean that scientists seeking to understand the future of the Greenland ice sheet need to account for relatively warm liquid water retained in the ice. This discovery also means that the surface hydrologic system, once thought to freeze solid during the winter, can remain active year-round.

Using airborne radars flown during NASA’s Operation IceBridge, Koenig and her colleagues were surprised to see the signature of liquid water under snow. They now report these “buried lakes” are common and extensive on the western margins of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The volume of water retained in buried lakes is small compared with the total mass of water melting from the ice sheet every year, but the lakes can warm the ice and prime the system for melt in spring and summer.

While Koenig was studying persistent “buried lakes” in Western Greenland, Forster was using similar radars and satellite measurements to show extensive water retention in a large aquifer concentrated in southeastern Greenland.

Together these findings present a picture of water remaining just below the surface year round around nearly the entire perimeter of the ice sheet. “More year-round water means more heat is available to warm the ice,” Koenig said. “Simply put, for ice sheet stability, lots of water is not good.”

Ice lenses focus runoff

Two years ago, CIRES graduate student Michael MacFerrin was studying snow compaction on the southwest Greenland ice sheet when their drill hit something completely unexpected: dense layers of ice more than 15 feet thick just under the surface. This high on the ice, the researchers expected to find mostly firn (porous, partially compacted snow) with thin, patchy ice layers or “lenses” scattered within. Such firn acts as a sponge of sorts, soaking up surface meltwater and preventing runoff from high up on the ice sheet.

MacFerrin and his colleagues wondered if the ice layers became thick enough to block surface meltwater, how long might it take for meltwater to pool at the surface and run off toward the coast? Two months later, during the record-breaking melt of July 2012, they got an answer: Landsat 7 satellite images showed unprecedented lakes and rivers forming and draining westward. Meltwater poured into the Watson River 90 miles away, contributing to the worst flooding on record and destroying major portions of a bridge in Kangerlussuaq that had spanned the river for 50 years.

MacFerrin returned to Greenland the following year, armed with the tools needed to survey these ice layers on a larger scale. He and his colleagues dragged a ground-penetrating radar system for over 100 miles behind a snowmobile, and have pored over IceBridge radar data from the ice sheet to find where else in Greenland these thick subsurface layers appear. They now report that continuous, thick ice lenses extend dozens of miles further inland than ever recorded before and cover more than 27,000 square miles, the approximate size of New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Recent record-breaking warm summers (2002, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2012) appear to have generated large amounts of meltwater, which trickled down, refroze, and fattened once-thin ice layers.

With continued warming in Greenland, more melt water will be generated, adding to the processes recently discovered. “Every few years, the ice sheet surprises us, doing something we never knew it could do,” MacFerrin said. “As melt water expands and feeds all these mechanisms, it’s anybody’s guess what we might discover within the next several years. Using the tools we currently have, we’re doing our best to keep up right now.”

– See more at: http://cires.colorado.edu/news/press/2014/AGUgreenland.html#sthash.LOU3RnlK.8p8jmIi1.dpuf

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104 thoughts on “From #AGU14 Surprising findings in Greenland's melt dynamics – glaciers retreated rapidly between 1900 and 1930

  1. I guess the tremendous pressure keeps the water unfrozen, just like a really cold can of beer is still liquid until you pop the can open.

    • which is a good reason to invest, heavily, in technology that can keep your beer at exactly 38 degrees f…

      • Mark and Scott. Shame on you guys for making lite of a very serious subject. Greenland’s ice is melting. All that precious fresh water just running into the ocean. Fresh water, without it no life could exist and it is the main ingredient in beer.

    • They say

      “Many of these discoveries are clears signs of a warming ice sheet,” MacFerrin said.

      How do we know the “newly discovered ice layers” and the “Firn aquifers, recently found” weren’t there before they discovered them?

      • These dynamics of melt may well have always been there.

        Greenland’s glaciers retreated rapidly between 1900 and 1930

        And a bit after that too.

        Abstract – 20 April 2012
        An aerial view of 80 years of climate-related glacier fluctuations in southeast Greenland
        …the recent retreat was matched in its vigour during a period of warming in the 1930s with comparable increases in air temperature. We show that many land-terminating glaciers underwent a more rapid retreat in the 1930s than in the 2000s, whereas marine-terminating glaciers retreated more rapidly during the recent warming….
        http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1481
        ——-
        Abstract – 14 July 2009
        Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007
        …The annual whole ice sheet 1919–32 warming trend is 33% greater in magnitude than the 1994–2007 warming. The recent warming was, however, stronger along western Greenland in autumn and southern Greenland in winter….
        http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2009JCLI2816.1
        ——-
        Abstract – 20 June 2006
        Greenland warming of 1920–1930 and 1995–2005
        We provide an analysis of Greenland temperature records to compare the current (1995–2005) warming period with the previous (1920–1930) Greenland warming. We find that the current Greenland warming is not unprecedented in recent Greenland history. Temperature increases in the two warming periods are of a similar magnitude, however, the rate of warming in 1920–1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995–2005.
        http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2006GL026510.shtml
        ——-
        Abstract – 6 June 2006
        Extending Greenland temperature records into the late eighteenth century
        “…The warmest year in the extended Greenland temperature record is 1941, while the 1930s and 1940s are the warmest decades….”
        http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/greenland/vintheretal2006.pdf
        ——-
        Abstract – 1946
        The State of the West Greenland Current up to 1944
        “….It is found that warmer conditions existed during the decade of 1880, followed by a colder period up to about 1920, when the present warm period began. The peak of the present warm period appears to have been reached in the middle 1930’s,…..”
        http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/f42-055
        ——-
        Abstract – July 1937
        A period of warm winters in Western Greenland and the temperature see-saw between Western Greenland and Central Europe
        Particulars are given regarding the big rise of winter temperatures in Greenland and its more oceanic climate during the last fifteen years….
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.49706327108/abstract

    • wickedwenchfan and JJM Gommers.

      Abstract / Paper – 2009
      Grinsted et al.
      Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200 to 2100AD
      …..Future sea level is projected from IPCC temperature scenarios and past sea level from established multi-proxy reconstructions assuming that the established relationship between temperature and sea level holds from 200-2100 A.D. Over the last 2000 years minimum sea level (-19 to -26 cm) occurred around 1730 AD, maximum sea level (12 to 21 cm) around 1150 AD. Sea level 2090-2099 is projected to be 0.9 to 1.3 m for the A1B scenario, with low probability of the rise being within Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confidence limits…..
      https://www.broward.org/NaturalResources/ClimateChange/Documents/grinstedclimdyn09sealevel200to2100ad.pdf
      http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00382-008-0507-2)

    • There was (well not “major”) if you look at Nils-Axel Morner’s work. What he plots are increases and decreases and no indications of any acceleration. He has also been particularly perturbed about “adjustments” to tide-gauge data to make it “match” satellite data.

  2. Ice sheets and glaciers melt during inter-glacials. If they were growing we would be in some serious trouble.
    http://www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/humlum-2011.png
    Someone just posted this paper and chart to my own blog, which I found very interesting. Especially the point that the peak of the Modern Warm Period probably lies 100 or so years in the future. The quiet Sun may give us a short colder spell before things warm again.

  3. I think that recently the warmunistas have been all getting together with their PR firms and agreeing on set language that is used very early in all their ‘statements’
    I’ve noticed this one being used several times recently and it’s an attempt to create the initial seed of truth therefore framing the entire press release as fact….
    “…..to improve forecasts of the region’s future ”
    Our world isn’t warmer since 18 years ago and they know it. They’re a bunch of conniving barstewards.

  4. ““As melt water expands and feeds all these mechanisms, it’s anybody’s guess what we might discover within the next several years.”” I thought the science was settled.

    • I recall reading a book about military flights in the Aleutians prior to WW2 using Martin PM-1 flying boats. As originally supplied they had open cocpits and the pilots were issued with Bearskin flight suits which kept them warm but stank to high heaven, especially when wet.

      • note the radio-microphone on the guy on the left. Also the left and right guy’s vests are probably some sort of rubber inflatable life preserver. Not that they would survive long in the water, even with the polar bear suit.

  5. The comment about soot is huge. My fathers family is from Switzerland, and all my relatives over there claim that the glacier melts in the 90’s had nothing to do with temperature, and everything to do with dirty snow from the common use of dirty diesel in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s etc. As diesel exhaust becomes cleaner the snowfields in the Western Alps are expanding,

    • The other thing I see besides soot is just plain old dust. The more people, vehicles, snow removal, etc, etc, the more dust.

    • Correlation is often mistaken for causation.
      Human CO2 is too small a factor to be a likely cause of glacier advance or retreat.
      To learn more about CO2 (natural sources and sinks and human), see this thorough lecture (in English after Deutsche intro.) by Dr. Murry Salby. A couple of key points for you are at:
      [36:34] Native Source of CO2 – 150 (96%) gigatons/yr — Human CO2 – 5 (4%) gtons/yr
      [37:01] Native Sinks Approximately* Balance Native Sources – net CO2
      *Approximately = even a small imbalance can overwhelm any human CO2
      [i.e., native CO2 = 2 orders of magnitude greater than human]
      You can readily understand this (if I, a non-scientist can, you can) lecture. Watch it more than once. Very good teaching.
      Dr. Murry Salby, Hamburge, April, 2013 (YouTube video)

      • “Hamburg”
        Re: Airborne SOOT (or carbon particulates, as opposed to CO2) was much higher in Europe in the 1700 – early 1900’s when people burned wood and coal in open fires for heat and cooking. The notorious fogs of London were largely SOOT-driven. That is, air quality improved significantly long ago… .

      • Hello Janice,
        You know that I am not a fan of Dr. Salby… He never reacted to my and other’s critiques. The two main points:
        – The historical CO2 increase and decrease over 800,000 years is ~8 ppmv/K as measured in ice cores. The measured CO2 pressure in equilibrium between seawater and the atmosphere (Henry’s Law) changes between 4-17 ppmv/K. That is all. To reach 100+ ppmv you need to heat the ocean surface layer with 12.5 K…
        – Salby’s theory says that CO2 migrates in ice cores (for which is some evidence in “warm” coastal Antarctic ice cores, with extreme small influences on the measurements), But that implies that the CO2 levels during the long ice ages should have been negative…

    • On soot and dust.

      Lhermitte, Stef et. al. – EGU General Assembly 2013
      Changes in surface properties of the Greenland ice sheet (2000-2012)
      …Classification of the Greenland ice sheet surface into snow/ice with varying i) grain size, ii) melt water content and iii) impurity concentrations (soot, dust, cryoconite) shows the spatio-temporal patterns of surface properties that affect the albedo feedback…….This results in strong broadband albedo reductions that increase solar energy absorption (0.4 W/m2/yr) and again promote enhanced melt water production. Moreover, recent changes show ice exposure at higher elevations and increases in snow grain size on the interior of the ice sheet….
      http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013EGUGA..1510756L
      ============
      Abstract
      Dr. James Hansen et. al. – 2003
      Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos
      …..Plausible estimates for the effect of soot on snow and ice albedos (1.5% in the Arctic and 3% in Northern Hemisphere land areas) yield a climate forcing of +0.3 W/m2 in the Northern Hemisphere. The “efficacy” of this forcing is ~2, i.e., for a given forcing it is twice as effective as CO2 in altering global surface air temperature.
      http://www.pnas.org/content/101/2/423.short

  6. Anthony
    If you are at the AGU meeting you may be interested in the following. The Rosetta comet mission blog stated last week that a large number of papers were going to be presented at the meeting this week. There must have been dozens in the list of abstracts concerning all aspects of the science.
    What struck me was that several papers were clearly assuming 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was a contact binary. However, I have found numerous matches between the ‘head’ lobe and the ‘body’ lobe. The two were clearly one piece in the past and have been stretched apart. That means 67P/C-G can’t be a contact binary. I’ve posted up all my findings in a series of four parts. I’ve linked part 1 below and that on its own is quite persuasive.
    I read that a large proportion of these papers are being presented tomorrow, Wednesday. You may manage to see one of those concerning the contact binary theory. If so, feel free to ask what they think of the matching head and body!
    http://scute1133site.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/67pchuryumov-gerasimenko-a-single-body-that-has-been-stretched/
    In case you’re wondering how the comet could be stretched, it could happen via two scenarios. One is a close approach to Jupiter under the Roche limit. This would be a similar scenario to comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 but causing it to stretch rather than shred. The other way is via asymmetrical outgassing causing spin-up to a 90-minute rotation at some point in the past.

  7. Does Greenland have springs? Are there such things as spring fed lakes in Greenland? How much does snow accumulation on an ice covered lake insulate that lake from sub-zero winters? I’ve never been to Greenland, but I have been in Alaska in the winter. There, the snow cover on iced over streams and ponds helps insulate the water. Can this happen in Greenland?

  8. These buried lakes are at what temperature, and how much heat transfer actually exists between them and the adjacent ice? Seems they are implying all water must be warm?

  9. ASININE.
    Why bother?
    No matter how much we study the glaciers….
    humans can do NOTHING to cause them to freeze or to melt.
    The expense, effort, and time devoted to studying the ice of Greenland is astonishing. Were it not for the Enviroprofiteer agenda (blame human CO2 in order to get tax and regulatory support for sc@ms such as windmills), it would be inexplicable, except as the hobbyhorse of a few eccentrics.
    Consider their remarks in the context of a MEANINGFUL use of all that expense, effort, and time: medical research {substituting “cancer” for their hobbyhorse expressions}.
    — “*** ‘Understanding these mechanisms is crucial to predicting how {cancer} responds to {the treatment}.'”
    — *** “… four experts on {cancer} highlighted several new findings related to {cell structure}. Some emerged from the discovery and analysis of {patient histories}; others from hard work {doing double blind drug studies} and a series of new imaging techniques … .” ***
    — “… ‘New tools are allowing us to see these sub{dural} processes for the first time. If we’re going to understand {cancer}, we need to understand these new {…} dynamics.’” ***
    — “… The new data promise to help researchers understand how quickly {cancer} can react to {treatment changes}, which is important today as {thousands of people die premature deaths from cancer}… .” ***
    *************************************
    Follow –> the –> money.
    What a waste.
    Sad.

  10. Greenland’s glaciers retreated rapidly between 1900 and 1930 as the Little Ice Age lost its grip on the region and temperatures climbed.

    OK, between 1900 and 1930 how much did global sea levels rise? According to this Wikipedia araticle, just from eyeballing the chart (a larger version available here, it appears the rise from 1900 to 1930 is around 3 cm or a trifle less, which works out to roughly 1 mm per year. The same article goes on to say:

    Observational and modelling studies of mass loss from glaciers and ice caps indicate a contribution to sea-level rise of 0.2 to 0.4 mm/yr averaged over the 20th century.

    So of the roughly 3 cm of sea level rise during the rapid regional warming of 1900 – 1930, we can assume the Greenland melting contributed somewhat more than the 0.2 – 0.4 mm/year of the century average, but no more than the total SLR of the period. So somewhat more than 1.2 cm of SLR in these could be attributed to unusual rapid warming (30 years).
    Projected over the next century, that’s just under 4 cm of additional SLR from glacier/ice cap melting. Where do they get “one to three feet”?

      • Both daily (30-60 nT/day, your graphics) and annual (0 -70 nT/year, above graphic) variability are more or less the same, I doubt that anyone can disentangle what is coming from the sun and what is due to the Earth’s core.
        Since Earth’s outer core has huge inertia, it is more than evident that daily changes are caused by sun + Earth rotation, and by implication of the identical intensity, the annual changes are most likely a consequence of the same process.

      • I doubt that anyone can disentangle
        Argumentum ad ignorantiam is a fallacy.
        Of course we can. Gauss showed in the 1830s how to do this [separating internal and external sources].
        The secular variation has nothing to do with the daily variation and nothing to do with the climate. That the LOD is influenced is simply because movements within the Earth changes the moment of inertia which, since the angular momentum is constant, shows up as changes in LOD. No mystery here and nothing to do with the climate or melting of Greenland ice.

      • AGF: What is “geomagnetic LOD”?
        Eart’s Core Angular Momentum transformed into an equivalent change in the length of the day as seen on the solid Earth by conservation of angular momentum, as described with data data given here:
        http://sbc.oma.be/data1.html
        Authors are the foremost experts on the geomagnetic field variability.

      • vuk December 16, 2014 at 10:49 am
        Fact that the LOD as inferred from the geomagnetic data has variability coincidental with the solar magnetic field (Hale Cycle)
        The Sun does not have a Hale cycle [that it does is a common misconception foisted upon the unwashed masses, e.g. by wild-eyed NASA press releases] any more than the Earth has a yearly cycle. Both has two hemispheres.
        just happens to be an inconvenient coincidence?
        Since a coincidence means no real effect, it is, of course, being a coincidence is, naturally, only inconvenient for the believer of the non-existing effect. Good that you acknowledge that the coincidence is inconvenient for you.
        “The satellites have found evidence for magnetic ropes connecting Earth’s upper atmosphere directly to the Sun,” says Dave Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms”. Even more impressive was the substorm’s power.
        We have known this for about half a century and the energy [not power] is not impressive at all, being four million times smaller than what the Earth receives from ordinary sunlight during a typical substorm.
        It is OK that you fool yourself, but not OK when you try to fool the Janices among us. D&K is a very apt description of your affliction.

      • Dear Dr. Svalgaard,
        Thank you for your persistence in correcting error, here on WUWT. I am so grateful. You have many other, and likely far more interesting, things to do with your time. Your teaching is so clear (and, so far, has not been refuted) that THIS student (in your Intro. to… class) will remain firmly in her seat in the back row of YOUR classroom (sometimes quietly listening…. sometimes NOT! lolol).
        My heart went out to Mr. Vukcevic who appears to be in earnest, though, mistaken (and needs to take a big step back and reconsider his views, imo) …. but, be assured, I will not let that cloud my thinking.
        With gratitude and best wishes for a very happy Christmas,
        Your student,
        Janice

    • Dear Mr. (yes, I have INFERRED AND CONCLUDED that you are a man, :)) Vukcevic,
      A deep-thinking man like you cannot possibly be attempting to persuade a solar physicist of Dr. Svalgaard’s calibre, someone who has written many peer-reviewed and approved papers and with years of accumulated knowledge and evidence supporting his conclusions above. Logically, I thus conclude that you must be trying to persuade people like I: non-scientists who want to learn.
      You may be interested, then, to know that I find statements such as: 1. “it is more than evident that;” and 2. “are most likely a consequence of” unpersuasive.
      So far, your argument (to me) just makes me think along these lines:
      “Hm. So, according to Mr. Vukcevic., the moon causes Comcast to send me a bill…. after all, it is more than evident that my bill comes about once a month…. and the moon orbits the earth about once a month…. I’ve got a graph of it… .”
      So. While I consider your hypothesis interesting (given that I know so little about the whole field… experts may just find it silly, I can’t say), I remain completely unconvinced.
      And that is even with-OUT Dr. Svalgaard’s highly persuasive arguments to the contrary.
      Just a little FYI to let you know you need to:
      1. Decide who your audience is.
      2. If that is non-scientists, come up with more evidence and logic designed to educate and persuade us.
      Or else…… you are just putting on an amusing show… .
      And I doubt you mean to do that.
      I really do. If there is one thing you have convinced me of, dear V., it is of your sincerity. I believe that you really believe you are correct. And that is something. You are not among those sl1meba11s who deliberately twist the truth to try to fool us into handing over more money to fund their “research.”
      Sincerely,
      Janice the Non-scientist

      • Ms Moore
        It is kind of you to give consideration to what I write. Your elaborate analysis is impeccable, Dr. S usually abbreviates it simply to ‘D&K syndrome’.

      • Dear Vukcevic,
        Thank you for your gracious reply.
        Perhaps, Dr. Svalgaard is being gruff but kind with the “D & K Syndrome” epithet. Perhaps, he means by that, “Damsel and Knight” as in a knight charging to the rescue of a damsel in distress. That is, that you (the knight) have a noble heart and want to rescue us all (the damsel) from the dungeon of ignorance. You see Dr. Svalgaard as a fire-breathing dragon guarding the castle who must be defeated.
        I can see how Dr. Svalgaard might be a trifle annoyed with you, dear Knight Vukcevic: in your zeal, you appear to not even seriously consider his arguments… . While this is understandable, given your passion, it is not worthy of you. You are better than that.
        Wishing you well and hoping that you can set aside a pardonable passion, re-group, and really try to focus on what limited information we have which is known, not on what appears to you to be likely, but cannot be proven. At least, try to state your ideas with a bit more accurate level of certainty — they will be listened to more readily that way. And, yes, what is known is a bit humdrum compared to your more exciting thoughts about the matter, but, the goal is truth. You can get passionate about THAT!
        #(:))
        Your WUWT friend,
        Janice

      • Janice, wouldn’t “damsel and knight” more appropriately describe Lief’s patronizing attitude towards you, and his need to “protect” you from vukcevic’s dangerous ideas?

      • Dear Yogi,
        I see your point, however, given what Dr. Svalgaard knows of my genuine ignorance (not stupid (and he has never made me feel that he thinks I am), just without knowledge of a LOT of science),
        I would consider his “coming to the rescue” to simply be that of any person with a heart for teaching and a passion for the truth. He is not writing just to me, you know… there are many “Janice’s” among us… .
        #(:))
        Mr. V, on the other hand… . Flies off in a passion, to my perception, willy-nilly, determined to defend at all costs to logic and careful thinking, his damsel (his geomagnetic speculations) from the S Dragon. I feel that V is devoted to defending his own thoughts, his cherished Lady Geomagnetism, where S is trying to protect us ALL from error.
        Thanks for affirming that I deserve to be respected and valued. That was very kind of you and much appreciated. There IS some not-so-subtle sexism — and I’m not talking about delightfully fun flirtatious talk; I’m talking about a base, mean-spirited, bias; very few commenters do this, however — GREAT BUNCH OF MEN! (and women) — displayed from time to time on this site. Dr. Svalgaard has yet to show such tendencies.
        Heh, one time, I was accused of sexism…. for saying something (half-jokingly) like, “Oh, you men,” (with ref. to a cultural stereotype). I thought at the time there was a bit of a double standard going on (the sexism detection device set to VERY SENSITIVE for a female’s remarks versus vice versa)… but, really, except for a few notorious exceptions, WUWT is pretty good in that regard.
        Nice to have chatted a bit with you!
        Now, I need to go catch up on the soaps (NOT!). #(:))
        Janice

  11. The recurring theme behind all warmists findings is “Hey I found something that may be warming the world”. The next step they should take is to discover if it ever happened before, do they?… never!

  12. Whwnever I hear these breathless descriptions of the melting Greenland ice, all chockfull of unprecedentedness I like to go back to A. E.Nordenskiölds description from 1870, back at the end of the LIA, and the first time ever that a scientist actually visited a major icecap:
    “In summer again, when the snow has melted, the surface of the ice-wilderness has quite a different appearance. The snow has disappeared and the ground is now formed of a blue ice, which however is not clean, but everywhere rendered dirty by a grey argillaceous dust, carried to the surface of the glacier by wind and rain, probably from distant mountain heights. Among this clay, and even directly on the ice itself, there is a scanty covering of low vegetable organisms. The ice-deserts of the Polar lands are thus the habitat of a peculiar flora, which, insignificant as it appears to be, forms however an important condition for the issue of the conflict which goes on here, year after year, century after century, between the sun and the ice. For the dark clay and the dark parts of plants absorb the warm rays of the sun better than the ice, and therefore powerfully promote its melting. They eat themselves down in perpendicular cylindrical holes thirty to sixty centimetres in depth, and from a few millimetres to a whole metre in diameter. The surface of the ice is thus destroyed and broken up.
    After the melting of the snow there appears besides a number of inequalities, and the clefts previously covered with a fragile snow-bridge now gape before the wanderer where he goes forward, with their bluish-black abysses, bottomless as far as we can depend on ocular evidence. At some places there are also to be found in the ice extensive shallow depressions, down whose sides innumerable rapid streams flow in beds of azure-blue ice, often of such a volume of water as to form actual rivers. They generally debouch in a lake situated in the middle of the depression. The lake has generally an underground outlet through a grotto-vault of ice several thousands of feet high. At other places a river is to be seen, which has bored itself a hole through the ice-sheet, down which it suddenly disappears with a roar and din which are heard far and wide, and at a little distance from it there is projected from the ice a column of water, which, like a geyser with a large intermittent jet in which the water is mixed with air, rises to a great height.”

    • tty
      Great quote. I climbed up the Weisssee glacier in Austria this summer with my 3 daughters. We saw the deep blue ponds in the ice with the black stuff visible at the bottom as in the photo above. We walked right up to the edges.
      It is not soot or carbon. It is just rocks and grit.

      • For glaciers of mountain valleys the “rocks and grit” have a source, namely at the headwall and the valley sides. I’ve walked up the “toe” of the Athabasca Glacier and the top several inches is a bit like a gravel road. An ice sheet has no source of rocks and grit.

  13. “As melt water expands and feeds all these mechanisms, it’s anybody’s guess what we might discover within the next several years.

    That sounds like a real scientist. Looking for answers, not data to support an opinion.

  14. -“Understanding these mechanisms is crucial to predicting how Greenland’s ice responds to a warming climate, now and in the future.”
    – “If we’re going to understand Greenland’s melt contribution to sea-level rise, we need to understand these new melt features and dynamics.”
    Everytime they look, they find some previously unrecognized, and usually non-linear feature of ice mass loss and mass accumulations.

    So it boils down to, “Send money.”
    And most of all, do not ask the most pertinent question, “So What?”

    Simply getting the answer back, “It’s more complicated than we thought.” is hardly a responsible use of public monies if it never leads to informed policy (i.e. taxes forcibly taken from the public for no utility)
    What can we do about it besides already realizing that coastal regions around the world will see about 25-30 cm/ century SLR anyway as we are in the interglacial warm period when glaciers and ice packs world wide always melt?
    To me it just smacks of another self-licking ice cream cone venture in progress.

  15. The breakup front of the (floating) glacier at Illulisat/Jacobshavn, the fastest glacier of the world in West-Greenland, did retract inland at least since 1850, faster in the period 1930-1950, then advanced again with colder temperatures and retracted again since ~1995.
    Summer temperatures were at least as high in the period 1935-1950 as today (but I didn’t update the graphs for the past years),
    It seems that there is a connection with the NAO, where Greenland reacts opposite to NW Europe:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/greenland_glacier.html
    Some view about the thinning and growing:
    http://rsl.geology.buffalo.edu/documents/csatho_j07j061.pdf
    And an indication that the North Pole was – at least in summer – was (near) ice free some 6000 years ago:
    http://www.ngu.no/sciencepub/eng/pages/Whatsup_20_10_08.html

    • What happens in the Arctic is reflected in the Reykjavik atmospheric pressure, the north leg of the NAO, which in turn has a decisive effect on the N. hemisphere’s climate.
      In the post further above I commented about geomagnetic field as a best proxy for the Arctic events, including the Arctic temperature
      http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CO2-Arc.gif
      This may be due to the direct solar non-TSI, ie. electric and magnetic input:
      NASA’s fleet of THEMIS spacecraft discovered a flux rope pumping a 650,000 Amp current into the Arctic. “The satellites have found evidence for magnetic ropes connecting Earth’s upper atmosphere directly to the Sun,” says Dave Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms”. Even more impressive was the substorm’s power. Angelopoulos estimates the total energy of the two-hour event at five hundred thousand billion (5 x 1014) Joules. That’s approximately equivalent to the energy of a magnitude 5.5 earthquake.

      • “The satellites have found evidence for magnetic ropes connecting Earth’s upper atmosphere directly to the Sun,” says Dave Sibeck, project scientist for the mission at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “We believe that solar wind particles flow in along these ropes, providing energy for geomagnetic storms”. Even more impressive was the substorm’s power.
        We have known this for about half a century [partly due to my work back in the ’60s] and the energy [not power] is not impressive at all, being four million times smaller than what the Earth receives from ordinary sunlight during a typical substorm.
        It is OK that you fool yourself, but not OK when you try to fool the Janices among us. D&K is a very apt description of your affliction.

      • Not wanting to support Vukcevic’s ideas necessarily, but a tiny pull on the trigger of a gun can produce an enormous blast. Likewise, a small dust storm in the Sahara can lead to a tremendous hurricane in the Atlantic a few weeks later. Causes do not have to be in any sense proportionate to the later effects, if conditions are ripe. So it’s not a valid argument that these “ropes” are of very minute power, given that the theory is merely that the influence weather patterns on earth. That’s still not a substitute for an actual mechanism (a trigger always has a mechanism), but it’s not a good argument that such things could not produce significant effects out of all proportion to their original power or size.

    • Good point, Jim Steele.
      lol, but, don’t you know? Greenland is on the top of our globes…. when IT melts, all the water goes downhill, north –> south…. much quicker sea-level rise … . Heh.
      Or, maybe….. I’m onto something, hm? The “IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT! — Buy–Our–Windmills–and-Solar Panels! — campaign strikes again….

  16. “Overall, the findings show Greenland’s ice is vulnerable to periods of rapid change including vicious cycles of warming… ”
    Vicious? You can have a vicious storm, but vicious cycles of warming? Really? Vicious for what or who?

    • That term struck me as odd, too. “Vicious?” (raised eyebrows) Sounds like typical AGW propaganda.

      • I walked out on an April morning, signs of the savage spring all around me. I felt overwhelmed by our human guilt. The tranquil quiet of winter was shattered by vicious birdsong. All around the loud colors of spring flowers polluted the white landscape. The ominous and deadly sound of flowing streams could be heard . Suddenly a group of deer appeared, apparently to attack me, some of them unnaturally small. One of them briefly eyeballed me with malevolent brown shiny gaze. I fled, terrified, thinking – Oh what have we done? How can we wash our hands clean?

      • I would have thought it obvious that the ~10°C warming in mid- to high-latitudes within 3–5 years 14 700 cal. yr BP was natural and therefore benign. The ~1°C warming over the last century was anthropogenic and therefore vicious. And unprecedented!

  17. “Using airborne radars flown during NASA’s Operation IceBridge, Koenig and her colleagues were surprised to see the signature of liquid water under snow. They now report these “buried lakes” are common and extensive on the western margins of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The volume of water retained in buried lakes is small compared with the total mass of water melting from the ice sheet every year, but the lakes can warm the ice and prime the system for melt in spring and summer.”
    Tell me, how do they tell the temperature of the water using ‘airborne radars’? It seems that there is a certain amount of guessing going on.
    Also, it takes 80 calories of heat to melt one gram of ice at 0 degrees C and only one calorie to warm a gram of water by one degree or the loss one calorie to cool by 1 Deg C. That means a very large amount of water will be needed to make any difference by melting ice. This sounds phoney to me!
    JPM

  18. There is a new suggestion that the glacial conditions of the last 3 million years may in part be due to volcanic uplift of Greenland:
     some new research on the origin of current glaciation 3Mya at the start of the Pleistocene:
    The key role of global solid-Earth processes in preconditioning Greenland’s glaciation since the Pliocene
    Bernhard Steinberger1, Wim Spakman, Peter Japsen and Trond H. Torsvik
    Terra Nova (2015) in press, DOI: 10.1111/ter.12133
    Abstract
    After >500 Myr of absence, major Northern Hemisphere glaciations appeared during the Plio-Pleistocene, with Greenland leading other northern areas. Here we propose that three major solid-Earth processes underpinned build-up of the Greenland ice-sheet. First, a mantle-plume pulse, responsible for the North Atlantic Igneous Province at ~60 Ma, regionally thinned the lithosphere. Younger plume pulses led to uplift, which accelerated at ~5 Ma, lifting the parts of the East Greenland margin closest to Iceland to elevations of more than 3 km above sea level. Second, plate-tectonic reconstruction shows a ~6° northward component of Greenland motion relative to the mantle since ~60 Ma. Third, a concurrent northward rotation of the entire mantle and crust toward the pole, dubbed True Polar Wander (TPW), contributed an additional ~12o change in latitude. These global geodynamic processes preconditioned Greenland to sustain long-term glaciation, emphasizing the role of solid-Earth processes in driving long-term global climatic transitions.

    • What the say in this paper is obviously (and somewhat trivially) true, however the main problem with this paper is that it is based on modelling that claims that glaciation on Greenland is impossible in high CO2 conditions.
      However the presence of IRD (Ice-rafted Debris) in marine sediments shows that tidewater glaciers existed in East Greenland long before the Pliocene, indeed IRD is present in the Arctic Ocean almost throughout the Paleogene and Neogene, except for the PETM and the Early-mid Eocene.

  19. This is interesting because I see something similar almost every winter. A small stream runs across my property and with a very cold (arctic) outbreak the surface will freeze while water runs freely under the solid surface. [The same thing happens with fresh lava running down a slope.] In either case odd features form as the liquid breaks out the sides or top. Five years ago about ½ acre of ice formed from flow out of a crack. When the flow of the stream drops after the ice forms there is a long tunnel of ice with the surface strong enough that I can drive a 4×4 across with 800 pounds of hay or wood in the bed.
    ~~~~~
    I did find this funny:
    He and his colleagues dragged a ground-penetrating radar system for over 100 miles
    Great image, that = Parkas, ropes, good sized chunk of equipment, muscle power.
    Then “behind a snowmobile
    Oh no! Deflated that image. The word they should use is “towed”, or maybe hauled.

  20. Regarding the annual changes of the Geomagnetic East Component (daily change is used by Dr. Svalgaard et al to reconstruct past solar activity).
    Dr. Svalgaard says December 16, 2014 at 10:14 am
    No mystery here and nothing to do with the climate or melting of Greenland ice.
    There is some data evidence to show that indeed has to do with Greenland, the climate and ice.
    East component annual change varies widely along global latitude/longitude locations. Weakest and least uniform changes are those along the Equator, and the strongest are towards the poles; the Arctic being of interest here. This graph
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Arctic-GmEC.gif
    shows sweep of the annual change in the East component at 80N, in 10 degree longitudinal steps. As it can be observed the Fram Strait (80N, 10W-10E) stands out. Its time line appear to have just over 60 year periodicity, the N. Hemisphere’s and the global temperature critical turning points are clearly identifiable, and if de-trended, the coincidence with the AMO is indisputable.
    What is special about Fram Strait?
    Alfred Wegener Institute:
    “The Fram Strait represents the unique deep water connection between the Arctic Ocean and the rest of the world oceans. Its bathymetry controls the exchange of water masses between the Arctic basin and the North Atlantic. The significant heat flux through water mass exchange and sea ice transport, i.e. transport of fresh water and sea ice southwards and transport of warm saline waters northwards, influences the thermohaline circulation at a global scale.
    In conclusion: it appears that the Geomagnetic East component has something to do with Greenland, ice and climate. Data: gufm1

    • vuk, you’re right that the Fram Strait is important, but nothing to do w/magnetism — just relatively simple mechanics.
      A good explanation for the Henrich & D/O events during glacial periods is that ice-shelves from Greenland expand and dam the Strait, piling up sea-ice behind it & expanding its coverage over the extreme North Atlantic. Alot of additional albedo and a resulting cold spell. Eventually feedbacks break the dam, sea-ice flushes south & melts, albedo decreases and a “warm” spell. Rinse and repeat.

  21. NOAA agrees. From: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/report08/greenland.html
    Glacier changes

    The terminus of Greenland’s largest glacier, the Jakobshavn’s Isbrae near the town of Ilulissat, retreated 0 to 500 m in 2007 (Fig. G3), continuing a retreat that began summer 2001 with a dramatic 11-km floating ice collapse (Weidick and Bennike 2007). The large ice lagoon called Tissarissoq at the south side of the fjord was flushed of ice by the end of the summer, ice-free probably for the first time since at least the onset of the Little Ice Age (ca. 0.4–0.1 ky BP). It is possible that Tissarissoq was ice-free before that time during the medieval warm period (ca. 1.1–0.5 ky BP).

  22. Okay, I;m shocked……that they are just now doing this work with the instrumental sled traverses. Is this really the 1950s?

  23. I would point out that there are two completely different regions of ice in Greenland. One is the interior ice sheet. It is almost (but not quite) completely surrounded by a ring of Alpine-type mountains, which holds the interior ice in place for the most part. The other is the coastal ring, on the outer slopes of the ring of mountains, which has slopes that go essentially down to the sea. In that outer ring, the ice is essentially alpine glaciers that run down to the sea.
    To discuss the alpine coastal glaciers without clearly explaining that this applies to ONLY to that alpine glacier region/ring is IMHO mendacious to call it “Greenland, as if it is true of the whole island.
    The interior ice (80-90% of the ice area and mass) does not move much at all, only having a handful of outlets to the sea – one of which is the Jacobshavn glacier that is mentioned.
    It appears from this post that the paper is discussing the alpine coastal glaciers. What goes on with those is not necessarily being paralleled in the ice in the interior.
    It is entirely possible that the coastal glaciers could all melt into the ocean without the interior mass being affected much at all. Thus, when people look at what is going on on the coasts and project that ice mass loss to the entirety of Greenland’s ice, they are – basically – WRONG. That isn’t going to happen.

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