Claim: Melting glaciers have big carbon impact

From Florida State University:

Scientists have done field work in Tibet and Alaska, among other places as part of this study. Credit Robert Spencer/Florida State

Scientists have done field work in Tibet and Alaska, among other places as part of this study.
Credit: Robert Spencer/Florida State

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt, researchers and public policy experts have focused largely on how all of that extra water will contribute to sea level rise.

But another impact lurking in that inevitable scenario is carbon.

More specifically, what happens to all of the organic carbon found in those glaciers when they melt?

That’s the focus of a new paper by a research team that includes Florida State University assistant professor Robert Spencer. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, is the first global estimate by scientists at what happens when major ice sheets break down.

“This is the first attempt to figure out how much organic carbon is in glaciers and how much will be released when they melt,” Spencer said. “It could change the whole food web. We do not know how different ecological systems will react to a new influx of carbon.”

Glaciers and ice sheets contain about 70 percent of the Earth’s freshwater and ongoing melting is a major contributor to sea level rise. But, glaciers also store organic carbon derived from both primary production on the glaciers and deposition of materials such as soot or other fossil fuel combustion byproducts.

Spencer, along with colleagues from Alaska and Switzerland, studied measurements from ice sheets in mountain glaciers globally, the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet to measure the total amount of organic carbon stored in the global ice reservoir.

It’s a lot.

Specifically, as glaciers melt, the amount of organic carbon exported in glacier outflow will increase 50 percent over the next 35 years. To put that in context, that’s about the amount of organic carbon in half of the Mississippi River being added each year to the ocean from melting glaciers.

“This research makes it clear that glaciers represent a substantial reservoir of organic carbon,” said Eran Hood, the lead author on the paper and a scientist with the University of Alaska Southeast. “As a result, the loss of glacier mass worldwide, along with the corresponding release of carbon, will affect high-latitude marine ecosystems, particularly those surrounding the major ice sheets that now receive fairly limited land-to-ocean fluxes of organic carbon.”

Spencer said he and his colleagues are continuing on this line of research and will do additional studies to try to determine exactly what the impact will be when that carbon is released into existing bodies of water.

“The thing people have to think about is what this means for the Earth,” Spencer said. “We know we’re losing glaciers, but what does that mean for marine life, fisheries, things downstream that we care about? There’s a whole host of issues besides the water issue.”


[UPDATE by Willis Eschenbach] Thanks for pointing out this nonsense, Anthony. I can’t express how much I despise this kind of “half the Mississippi” alarmism. Let’s put this all into some kind of context.

The Mississippi contributes only about 1.5% of the total global river discharge. So their “half the Mississippi”, which sounds so alarming, is actually less than 1% of the total organic carbon flowing every year into the world oceans. The idea that this is worth worrying about is a sick joke.

My regards to all, and don’t believe everything you read,



227 thoughts on “Claim: Melting glaciers have big carbon impact

      • @ Robin,
        Global Governance by the unelected, for the ultimate benefit of ‘the few’, with Climate Change the stalking horse to achieve it.
        Climate ‘scientists’, duplicitous elected representatives, paid propagandists and many others are, whether they know it or not, merely the paid-for, disposable cannon fodder on the road to the end of democracy.
        Sounds cynical ?? Maybe, but I am not sure it is cynical enough.
        In my mind the true threat and real aim is the end of democracy – and by that I don’t mean there will no longer be elections or elected representatives – but, following the EU model, nations will have elected representatives as we in the UK have Members of Parliament. They, as in the UK, provide the trappings, semblance and illusion of democracy whilst the vast majority of laws are made elsewhere and handed down to Parliament which has no choice but to implement them as if these were laws coming from elected representatives. The truth is that these laws (EU Directives) are made by unelected, and thus unaccountable, people that once in place the voter has no means of dislodging, removing or holding to account ; the very structure works to ensure that national politicians are left unable to determine or make laws that the people who elected them want.
        In the UK that has been largely hidden by the strong desire of our career ‘politicians’, the majority of whom have never had a real job in their lives, to cede sovereignty to Europe (now accomplished where the UK is concerned – we are governed by the EU). Again, as has been clearly demonstrated within the EU, there are plenty in power both elected and unelected who do not trust the public, the voter, to make the ‘correct decision. They believe that only unelected specialists can make the ‘right’ decisions in the interests of the public. (EPA anyone ?).
        That is the underlying philosophy shaping the structure of the EU. It is why, when nations have voted not cede further sovereignty to the EU, the EU has then forced them to have repeated votes until their voters ‘get it right’ and vote as the EU insists, to give up that sovereignty. The EU have even forced the replacement of elected politicians heading up nation states who weren’t doing what the Eurocrats wanted.
        That is not something I would expect to have penetrated the consciousness and understanding of the average voter in Europe, let alone elsewhere in the world. But just for a moment imagine the UN forcing an Obama or a Bush out of office for not doing what they require …… and then choosing his replacement – as the EU did in Italy and Greece.
        Ceding democratic power over all environmental legislation from nation states to an unelected and unaccountable global body is what, in essence, was proposed in one of the Annexes to the Copenhagen Treaty. That aim and intent is as strong as ever within the UN and the IPCC.
        I could be wrong, but I suspect that the EU has been testing out these approaches of creating an illusion of democracy whilst taking power from the voter to choose and hold accountable the people who really make their laws. It seems a logical way of developing and testing a format for a global government that hides the loss and the removal of democracy from the voter – and the EU has been highly successful at hiding the very real loss of democracy and national sovereignty from the public. (Btw – if I had ever worked for the EU I would now have my pension terminated for speaking against the EU)
        Climate change is one of the key battlegrounds in what will be a long-running war to hold onto the democracy that was hard-won by our ancestors. To me that battle for democracy, to hold onto it and restore it where it has already been lost (such as in the EU) is the greatest challenge facing mankind in the 21st Century.
        Cynical ? Perhaps. But a glimpse of the reality we face ? I think so.

    • I wonder if there is any coal we can mine underneath those glaciers? Looks like a big coal seam at the base of the photo. We could help add some more wonderful carbon (the building block of all life) to the environment.

  1. And what about the carbon that is captured due to new growth on land exposed by the retreating glacier and fed by the now flowing water?

    • So what the hell is “organic carbon”, and how is it different from inorganic carbon ??
      And we know from photographs that as the glaciers and other ice melt, a whole lot of carbon both organic and inorganic falls on the ground and stays there. We have pictures that show the carbon remaining AFTER the ice has become water, and run off. So most of that carbon sequestered by glaciers and other ice, becomes dirt.
      And by the way, that carbon is not carbon dioxide, and you could add a shovel full of it to each bucket of water you dump in the ocean, and it would be gone, maybe even good riddance.
      So just what are these folks talking about ??

      • Can one of the scientists here explain why the world at large is content to call CO2 simply Carbon? I can understand those with scare-mongering motives (it sounds so ‘icky don’t’ it) but why is a gas that is benign and vital to life on earth get lumped with the simplified text label “CARBON”?

      • cnxtim, there is a good reason to count everything as carbon: it is CO2 in the atmosphere, but it is only 1% CO2 in the oceans, the rest is 90% bicarbonates and 9% carbonates. In plants it is a host of organics: from sugars and starch to cellulose and other stuff.
        To compare the CO2 movements in a mass balance, everything is calculated as carbon.
        Which doesn’t make this article worth to give a second thought, as part of it is sooth that never will make it to CO2 again and the organics need a lot of time to get into CO2.

      • Exactly – and how come we didn’t notice it before – as I recall carbon exists in two forms, graphite and diamond. Graphite is dark, so surely we would have seen all that dark material in the glacier ice.
        Diamond would be harder to spot right enough in a glacier, but I would doubt if the conditions in a glacier would be sufficient to transform carbon into diamond.
        Or are they talking about carbon dioxide?
        If this is a scientific endeavour, one of the most basic expectations is for it to be precise in meaning, Can we really believe the conclusion of a study where the authors cannot even get the name of the substance studied correct?

      • Wrong there Paul! Five forms of Carbon, you’ve missed soot & “White Carbon” & Buckminster Fullerene !

      • Organic chemistry is the branch of chemistry that studies compounds made from carbon. This includes most molecules in living organisms as well as countless others made from petroleum (which itself came from living organisms). Since carbon can form 4 bonds and can bond with other carbons and dozens of other elements and can form double and triple bonds and rings of various sizes as well as aromatic bonds, there are an infinite number of compounds of carbon. If they are talking about organic material in the glaciers, they are talking about dead plant and animal debris, dirt with old compounds from living organisms (bacteria, fungi, worms, roots, etc.). So this organic material would have to be eaten or decomposed by other living organisms and converted to CO2, but some of it would go into cell walls, membranes, etc. and be fixed for awhile. Another factor is how long it takes for the glaciers to melt a bit and release an extra 1% of organic carbon. It could happen over 200 years which makes it even less scary.

      • Ferdinand gives the answer but it isn’t as good as he’d like to think. This is precisely why sciencey lites are caught up in soot. It is no big deal to call it CO2 and give compounds it makes a CO2 equivalent when we need to. We do it all the time anyway. Petroleum, coal and natural gas aren’t CO2 but we have no problem giving it an equivalent when we are burning it and, for forecasts, when we will be burning it and it is easy to give its equivalent as an agent causiing reduction in pH, forming wood, carbonates etc. Indeed, it separates out the active stuff from the long term sequestered stuff – forests, shellfish, precipitated carbonates, etc which are no longer a problem to the environment. A lot of natural gas goes into making a heck of a lot of plastics~1/4 of a gigatonne. The bigee is limestone and dolomite which – surely millions of years sequestration in rock is considered out of the danger zone. For 95% of the population who don’t know the difference, in fact it’s better to use CO2 and talk about how much goes in and how much is removed.
        I have huge respect for Ferdinand Engelbeen as ‘the’ world’s expert on CO2’s behaviour and identification, but I disagree with is presenting it as carbon for the above reasons. He apparently is unaware that this happy terminology serves to allow the new world order types to lie to people in another of their many ways.

      • Frank “organic carbon” is the perfect example of the sort of fuzzy-mindedness that is found with respect to carbon. Carbon is an element. Organisms do not grow elements. They grow compounds such carbohydrates.
        It is such fuzzy-mindedness that comprises most of the alarmist clamor.
        You should pay respect to what is called “scientific rigor”.

      • I thought ‘organic carbon’ was the stuff my wife buys at the health food store and wants me to eat. I’d rather drink out of a ‘green slime’ pond … <>

      • Gary, I agree that the terminology is sometimes confusing, but counting all organic stuff as carbon has nothing to do with bad intentions, AGW or CAGW. In the case of fossil fuels, one can express them in CO2 equivalents, but in the case of plant organics that is lot more complicated: sugars, starch, cellulose still is easy stuff, but the thousands of other organics isn’t easy to translate.
        If one makes a mass balance, it is carbon that can’t be destroyed or created from nothing. No matter in what form it is bound. It is a carbon balance, not a CO2 balance…
        If the carbon is real elementary carbon (soot), it will show up in the balance as falling out of the carbon cycle and rests on earth forever. It will not be part of the cycle anymore. You can express that as “CO2 equivalents” dropping out of the balance, but that is rather odd…
        Anyway, it doesn’t matter much as soot is a very small part of the carbon balance, be it that its impact on regional warming (like in India with its brown smoke) may be larger than of CO2…

      • “Organic carbon” etc is actually a pretty big and messy deal as many have noted. But for those who never did any water or wastewater work, Read this from Wiki (I mow, I know, but it’s easier than going into the basement to get my old textbooks out.)
        Not the best reply, just to note the issue is complex.
        Since the early 1970s, TOC has been an analytic technique used to measure water quality during the drinking water purification process. TOC in source waters comes from decaying natural organic matter (NOM) as well as synthetic sources. Humic acid, fulvic acid, amines, and urea are examples of NOM. Some detergents, pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, industrial chemicals, and chlorinated organics are examples of synthetic sources.[4] Before source water is treated for disinfection, TOC provides an estimate of the amount of NOM in the water source. In water treatment facilities, source water is subject to reaction with chloride containing disinfectants. When the raw water is chlorinated, active chlorine compounds (Cl2, HOCl, ClO-) react with NOM to produce chlorinated disinfection byproducts (DBPs). Researchers have determined that higher levels of NOM in source water during the disinfection process will increase the amount of carcinogens in the processed drinking water.[citation needed]
        With passage of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act in 2001, TOC analysis emerged as a quick and accurate alternative to the classical but more lengthy biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) tests traditionally reserved for assessing the pollution potential of wastewaters. Today, environmental agencies regulate the trace limits of DBPs in drinking water. Recently published analytical methods, such as United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) method 415.3,[5] support the Agency’s Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rules, which regulate the amount of NOM to prevent the formation of DBPs in finished waters.[6][7]
        To understand the analysis process better, some key basic terminologies should be understood and their relationships to one another (Figure 1).
        Total Carbon (TC) – all the carbon in the sample, including both inorganic and organic carbon
        Total Inorganic Carbon (TIC) – often referred to as inorganic carbon (IC), carbonate, bicarbonate, and dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2).
        Total Organic Carbon (TOC) – material derived from decaying vegetation, bacterial growth, and metabolic activities of living organisms or chemicals.
        Non-Purgeable Organic Carbon (NPOC) – commonly referred to as TOC; organic carbon remaining in an acidified sample after purging the sample with gas.
        Purgeable (volatile) Organic Carbon (VOC) – organic carbon that has been removed from a neutral, or acidified sample by purging with an inert gas. These are the same compounds referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and usually determined by Purge and Trap Gas Chromatography.
        Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) – organic carbon remaining in a sample after filtering the sample, typically using a 0.45 micrometer filter.
        Suspended Organic Carbon – also called particulate organic carbon (POC); the carbon in particulate form that is too large to pass through a filter.

    • Yep, file this under “ignorance of the carbon cycle.” And can someone please enlighten me about this primary productivity that occurs ON glaciers?!

    • @ Ferdinand E
      Remember there are two uses for terms like this – the scientific and the political. You’re talking scientific (you pedant, you!). Politicians are less scrupulous. When Julia Gillard was Prime Minister of Australia, she introduced a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. She continually referred it as a tax on “carbon pollution”. Now, that was either monumentally ignorant or deliberately deceitful. Given that she’s a politician, I favour the latter explanation. By her logic, we should refer to the floods we had in Queensland as “hydrogen pollution”.

  2. The glaciers melting in Tallahassee have been of particular concern to me lately. The melting of the ice-age glaciers seemed to not have caused a great die off, and there was a mile of ice over what is now Toronto. I am afraid this is another yawner.

  3. I need some definitions here. They speak of organic carbon as including soot and other combustion products. I would have thought that soot was about as inorganic as they come. Has it come to the point that when someone wants to impress the audience, adding organic (as in organic foods) is an easy way to do it.

    • I don’t know about definitions, all definitions in Climate science are as vague and meaningless as possible.
      What I do know is that organic Cheerios taste gross.

      • On the issue of ‘food’ I read the following question.

        “We know we’re losing glaciers, but what does that mean for marine life, fisheries, things downstream that we care about?

        Could melting ice sheets / glaciers actually be net beneficial? Did the authors miss these two papers from last year?

        Paper – 25 March 2014
        Antarctic ice sheet fertilises the Southern Ocean
        Paper – 22 April 2014
        Ice sheets as a significant source of highly reactive nanoparticulate iron to the oceans
        …..The ocean waters around both ice sheets harbour highly productive coastal ecosystems, many of which are iron limited. Measurements of iron concentrations in subglacial runoff from a large Greenland Ice Sheet catchment reveal the potential for globally significant export of labile iron fractions to the near-coastal euphotic zone……
        Press Release [for above]
        European Association of Geochemistry – 21 May 2014
        Study shows iron from melting ice sheets may help buffer global warming
        …It is well known that bioavailable iron boosts phytoplankton growth in many of the Earth’s oceans. In turn phytoplankton capture carbon – thus buffering the effects of global warming. The plankton also feed into the bottom of the oceanic food chain, thus providing a food source for marine animals…..
        Iron is one of the most important biochemical elements, due to its impact on ocean productivity. Despite being the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, it is mostly not biologically available because it is largely present as unreactive minerals in natural waters….

      • I am lead to understand that iron from melting ice sheets stimulates Phytoplankton blooms which enhances co2 sequestration and boosts food source for marine animals. If glacier outflow increases, as stated above, I wonder what the net effect will be over the next 35 years?

        “Regulation of algal blooms in Antarctic Shelf Waters by the release of iron from melting sea ice”
        “A climate benefit has been discovered in melting ice sheets”
        “Study shows iron from melting ice sheets may help buffer global warming A newly-discovered source of oceanic bioavailable iron could have a major impact our understanding of marine food chains and global warming. ”

        It seems to me that much research nowadays is focused on negative impacts at the cost of negative feedbacks and desirable outcomes. Just my 2 cents.

      • I always try to find them in the supermarket, but when I ask for them the store clerks just given me a blank stare. I am not kidding I do sometimes do that, my sense of humor doesn’t seem to translate down to store clerks very well.

    • Organic carbon is almost any carbon excluding atomic carbon, graphene, diamond, buckyballs etc, carbon oxides, cyanide, carbonates and carbides.
      So “soot” might be partly inorganic, but the division between organic carbon and inorganic carbon is somewhat unclear. According to Wikipedia,

      There is no single “official” definition of an organic compound. Some textbooks define an organic compound as one that contains one or more C-H bonds. Others include C-C bonds in the definition. Others state that if a molecule contains carbon―it is organic.

      I’d say it is one the least problems in the proposed glacier melt that the meltwater contains impurities. Life depends on those impurities.

  4. “to put that in contest, that is about half the amount of organic carbon in half of the Mississippi being added each year to the ocean from melting glaciers”
    To put the above in contest there are on the the earth thousands of rivers that run into the sea — big ones small ones, dribbles off the sloping land. etc.. The contribution of carbon from the Mississippi is only a tiny percentage of that whole. Therefore the significance of carbon from all the melting glaciers in the world must be only half of a tiny percentage.
    i make no claim to being a scientist. Am I wrong about this???
    Eugene WR Gallun

    • Measuring carbon in terms of half the flow of the Mississippi is like measuring heat in terms of H-bombs. Scare tactics and meaningless.
      Eugene WR Gallun.

      • The Ganges Delta is the world’s largest delta. I wonder what the outflow of carbon is from the Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta compared to the Mississippi? If the authors had compared glacial / ice sheet carbon output to this Delta.

      • I read a report the other day on underground water. It said that the total underground water was hundreds of times the earth’s surface water. That report might even have been on WUWT.

      • George, regarding underground water. I’m not a geologist, but I understand that a bi-product of underground calcification (stalactites and stalagmites) is naturally occuring CO2. Calcium carbonate is re-deposited as calcite and the carbon dioxide is lost to cave atmosphere. Some cave systems can show CO2 readings as high as 3,600 ppm.
        See link for an interesting CO2 study on the Scoska cave system:

      • Jimbo,
        No that wasn’t the report I was referring to. The article I saw described huge reservoirs of water underground and it said they were hundreds of times the total volume of all surface water.

      • GeeJam, not so much. CO2 dissolved in water forms a mild acid (carbonic acid). That acid – H2CO3 – reacts with calcium carbonate thus: CaCO3 + H2CO3 —> CaCO3 + H2O + CO2. But, since the carbonic acid is the product of water and CO2: CO2 + H2O H2CO3, there’s no net excess production of CO2. The CO2 is brought to the party in aqueous solution and leaves again as the gas. The CO2 is simply what was in solution when the water reached the cave system. The result is that carbonic acid will attack say limestone, dissolve it so that the CaCO3 is transported, but then is simply redeposited, thus creating both caves and dripstones.

      • george e. smith, the only thing I can think of now is maybe you saw one of my comments with this link. I have posted it before regarding arguments over water wars.

        ‘Huge’ water resource exists under Africa
        Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on a vast reservoir of groundwater.
        They argue that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface.

    • Organic Carbon is a common term in science. It’s not an advertising term.
      Most chemistry courses are split in to physical, inorganic and organic chemistry. Organic carbon is carbon that would be covered under organic chemistry.
      Simplistically, organic carbon is carbon bonded to hydrogen (with oxygen, sulphur, nitrogen etc. as well) – it is the stuff that living things are made of.
      Inorganic carbon would be carbon oxides and pure allotropes (C60, diamond graphite) and other relatively inert (tied up) carbon that won’t make sugars or fats or all those interesting things that biology uses.

    • The wording of the paper implies that someone got a grant (or grants) to vacation near some glaciers and is requesting further grants to vacation near glaciers elsewhere.

  5. To put that in context, that’s about the amount of organic carbon in half of the Mississippi River being added each year to the ocean from melting glaciers.
    To complete the context, when your numbers are so small as to be meaningless, quantify them via a metric like Hiroshima bombs or fractions of a major river. That way it sounds big even when it isn’t.
    There’s enough water in a 5 gallon pail to drown all of humanity. True, and completely meaningless. Half a river… (snort of derision).

  6. It is a net zero. The loss of glaciers affect the eco systems in the close environment where they exist, but the carbon they free will be offset by the carbon the now liquid water will absorb.

  7. tales from the HImalayas –
    Aug 2013: Himalayan Times: Dust linked to Himalayan glaciers melting
    DAVOS: The International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) proposes to set up a working group to study the impact of dust and black carbon from forest fires on the accelerated melting of snow and glaciers on the Himalayas.
    The decision was taken at a recent meeting in Davos, Switzerland…
    While analysing the satellite data, Singh noticed during the winter season a vast pool of atmospheric pollution over the Indo-Gangetic plains reaching to the Himalayan foothills.
    “The dust which is very common in the western parts of India almost every year (during April-June) reaches to the western parts of the Himalayas,” Singh told IANS.
    He said the dust also enhanced water vapour and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere resulting in the warming up of the troposphere, especially in the western parts of the Himalayan region accelerating the melting of glaciers.
    He added that pollution in the Indo-Gangetic plains from industrial activities, biomass burning and sometimes forest fires further contributed to the warming of troposphere and the Himalayan snow/glaciers…
    In the eastern parts of the Himalayan region, black carbon from the forest fires in countries on the eastern India “deposits on the snow/glaciers of the Himalayan and Tibetan region”, Singh said.
    According to Singh, it is difficult to say which one affects the glaciers most — black carbon or the dust.
    “In theory, black carbon is a lot more effective but generally the dust concentration is much higher than black carbon and therefore dust can have larger impact,” he said.
    Oct 2014: Himalayan Times: What prevents Karakoram glaciers from retreating?
    “It has been a source of controversy these glaciers have not been changing while other glaciers have,” said Sarah Kapnick, a postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton University.
    Glaciers have exhibited mass stability or even expansion in the Karakoram region contrasting with the glacial mass loss across the nearby Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, a pattern that has been termed the Karakoram anomaly.
    For the study, the researchers collected data on recent precipitation and temperatures from the Pakistan Meteorological Department and other sources, including satellite data.
    They compared a set of high-resolution climate model simulations from 1861 to 2100 to focus on the distinct seasonal cycles and resulting climate change signatures in three regions of the Himalayas: the Karakoram; the central Himalayas; and the south-east Himalayas which included part of the Tibetan Plateau. They found a new model that simulates climate down to an area of 19 square miles was able to match the observed temperature and precipitation cycles seen in the Karakoram.
    Karakoram region gets most of its extra moisture in the winter, when westerly winds bring snow to the mountains. The central and south-east Himalayan regions get most of their moisture from monsoons in the summer. Because summer is warmer, most of this precipitation falls as rain.
    Previous models overestimated temperature of the Karakoram, and underestimated the amount of snow in the region, the researchers found. “The total amount of rain is increasing during summer months. But since the temperatures are rising above freezing, they’re not translating to increased snowfall; they’re translating to decreased snowfall in those two regions,” said Kapnick. “In Karakoram, snowfall is decreasing in summer but increasing in winter,” Kapnick pointed out…

  8. Do they have any ice core data to support their claims? Are they sure that a glacier melt has the same composition as a Mississippi water? How about green plants colonizing new habitats?

  9. Where have these academics been? Cloistered in academia? For starters, when glaciers begin to melt? And what have glaciers been doing for thousands of years … throwing a wild party?
    They’ve been melting for thousands of years and, according to these scientists, also releasing carbon … and we’re still here … and people pretending to be scientists still have no idea what they’re talking about.

  10. As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt

    sounds like a science fiction movie in the making. Never mind Sharknado, next up is – shudder – CARBON-NADO.!

  11. So how much carbon is added by annual snowmelt, worldwide? And how much more carbon do the glaciers add? And what portion of that is due to accelerated glacier retreat?
    Concerning snowmelt, the Lena at it’s max rate in mid summer discharges ~ 250,000 cubic meters/sec into the Arctic Ocean, and it’s mostly snowmelt. This is a bucket of reeking feces and the researchers are trying to cash in on the carbon bugaboo. Disgusting.

  12. But, glaciers also store organic carbon derived from both primary production on the glaciers and deposition of materials such as soot or other fossil fuel combustion byproducts.
    Primary production? Is that a mealymouthed way of saying the trees and other vegetation that had gotten covered up by the glacier? In other words, it was warmer before, warm enough for the “primary production of organic carbon,” and then it got colder and the glaciers formed?
    So why worry when the glaciers recede to allow more primary production again?

  13. Seldom reported by the sea level rise scarers is the important contribution of shallow water volcanoes which produce new islands as they erupt. e.g….
    Of course, eruptions of this type disrupt water volume and hence contribute to rising sea level. To what effect is volcanic displacement taken into account in sea water volume calculations?
    Could Maldive’s ‘drowning’ displaced people be resettled on Hunga Ha’Apai?

    • To what effect is volcanic displacement taken into account in sea water volume calculations?

      I’d guess lava moving under seabed and coming up at a volcano does not really make any net effect. Don’t give them a hint though, they’ll make a model which proves that volcano driven sea-level rise has been reduced lately which means the rise is accelerating.

  14. What do they mean by “a lot”. I would be surprised if a typical alpine glacier held more carbon per square metre than a forest does for instance. If so then melting those glaciers would not contribute more carbon than clear cutting a forest of the same area. Yes that is “a lot” from the point of view of a human being; but on a global scale when you consider the huge areas of forest that burn each year, it is just a footnote. And of course such glaciers melt only slowly so the amount released each year is going to be quite small. Finally consider what is going to happen on the land the glacier melted from. If you plant hardy alpine pine on that land so that what was glacier becomes forest then the contribution to the global carbon budget is zero.
    The accounting may be different for the several kilometer thick glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctic. But those are not melting any time this millenium. And if they did melt then the amount of carbon they currently sequester would be the least of our problems.

    • From – Biomass burning record and black carbon in the GISP2 ice core
      The current snow (1989 and 1990) from the GISP2 site shows an average black carbon concentration of about 2.0 µg/kg suggesting that the rate of black carbon deposition at the GISP2 Greenland site during 1989-1990 was about the same as 1670 years ago.
      The results of the black carbon analysis (top panel in Fig. 2) confirm the usefulness of the ECM to identify periods of suspected extensive biosphere burning. The average black carbon concentration found in the 320 to 330 A.D.decade is 2.1 µg/kg with the standard deviation of 1.7 µg/kg. Two black carbon peaks around the years of 324 and 326 A.D. show an elevated black carbon concentration which is by more than 2.5 times the standard deviation above the average decadal value. When these two peaks are removed from the average calculation, the decadal black carbon average is 1.7 µg/kg with the standard deviation of 0.9 µg/kg.
      µg/kg = 10−6 g micrograms
      So not a lot of the black stuff in Greenland.

  15. “To put that in context, that’s about the amount of organic carbon in half of the Mississippi River being added each year to the ocean from melting glaciers.”
    I see others have gotten here first. It isn’t much of a context since I have absolutely no idea how much organic carbon is in half the Mississippi River (or which half — the east half or the west half?).

  16. Boy, I hadn’t had any reports to scare me for a few days, so I’m glad the media came out with this. Did you notice all that carbon from melting glaciers on the NASA carbon satellite pictures?

    • Hi Mark, really pleased you mentioned the NASA carbon satellite photos. I’ve been thinking about them quite a bit lately. We have been having some very typical Queensland weather lately – they call it a “heat wave” but its been the same every year since Creation.
      The point though is that I noticed that the CO2 was coming off the oceans as well, so when I go out fishing next & I’m only fishing in 10 m water here in Hervey Bay, I really hope we don’t experience ‘Algae Fires’, the marine equivalent of the common but dreaded ‘Bush Fires’.
      You just never know & we have some amazing contributors to the Global Warming nonsense here, The Great Barrier Marine Park Authority especially. I wish they would look at the alternative interpretations to some of the misguided ‘Science’ ??? they try to peddle on CAGW.

    • Watch out Streetcred, if there’s any carbon in that white ‘Global Warming Powder’ it may catch alight too. Scary stuff!

  17. Glacial melting has the potential to add an enormous 1 ton of Carbon to the global Carbon Cycle annual sources of 242,000,000,000 tons …
    … or an increase of 0.00000000041%
    It could have a significant impact and, therefore, further grant-funded studies and modelling are required.

  18. Few people realize that when it’s raining cats and dogs down in the valleys it’s snowing cats and dogs in the mountains. When you consider that the flow-through of an ice-field might be four hundred years, you start to appreciate how many missing house-hold pets could be locked up in the world’s glaciers.

  19. The real question is, is there is organic carbon in ice cubes? If so we need an immediate ban on providing drinks on the rocks. I would not be surprised if a heavy drinker over the course of their life could release up to 1/4 of the organic carbon in the Mississippi river.

    • Alx
      What else can I say!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Eugene WR Gallun

  20. We know now that CO2 is pollution, so maybe we can consider organic carbon pollution,too.
    Since the solution to pollution is dilution, we can only start to fret if the ratio of organic carbon to H2O is higher in glacier ice than it is in river water.
    We have been assured that there’s enough water in the glaciers to drown New York, so either there’s nothing to worry about on the carbon front or the Mississippi is one dirty mother.

    • mebbe
      If I remember correctly, a few years back at the height of the bottled water fad some company was selling bottled glacier water promising it was 100% pure. Think their customers have grounds for a lawsuit??
      “Since the solution to pollution is dilution” — you need to take up poetry also.
      Eugene WR Gallun

  21. According to the write up about this study, Glaciers melting all over the world is an “inevitable scenario.” What evidence do they have for that? Do they realize that if their glacier-melting scenario is “inevitable,” then there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. And if that’s the case, the only choice we have is to adapt to it when it happens. Of course, they don’t tell us “when” it’s going to happen, so I’m not going to worry about it until I can actually notice the warming, see a rise in the oceans, and observe negative effects from either. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t adapt to something that hasn’t happened yet. And I certainly can’t prevent something that is “inevitable.”

  22. Since Carbon is so bad we should ban it and remove it from the environment. It should be illegal to possess, buy, or sell Carbon or anything made of Carbon. We should demand a Carbon free society. Well then other elements should be banned as well. Oxygen is bad because it turns Carbon into a greenhouse gas. H2O is responsible for the majority of the greenhouse effect so along with Oxygen, Hydrogen and anything with Hydrogen should be banned as well Nitrous Oxide is another greenhouse gas so Nitrogen should be banned as well..

    • Start with banning bread.
      Almost every culture eats bread. When fermented with yeast nutrient, 1lb (453.59 g) of sugar converts to 0.5 lb of Ethyl Alcohol (C2H5OH) & 0.5lb of CO2. If the average large classic farmhouse loaf uses 23.95g of sugars (some natural within flour and milk), then 453.59 g of sugar produces 18.9 loaves which produce 0.5 lb of CO2. If there are 12M large loaves sold each day in the UK (source: UK Flour Advisory Service), then 140.977 tonnes of man-made CO2 is ‘emitted’ each day – or 51,465 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Based on this, and allowing for just 80% of the world’s current population (7.17B) as bread consumers with the average person consuming 62.5 loaves per annum, results in 85.571 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
      Can I get my grant money now?

  23. I’ve added the following update to the head post:

    [UPDATE by Willis Eschenbach] Thanks for pointing out this nonsense, Anthony. I can’t express how much I despise this kind of “half the Mississippi” alarmism. Let’s put this all into some kind of context.
    The Mississippi contributes only about 1.5% of the total global river discharge. So their “half the Mississippi”, which sounds so alarming, is actually less than 1% of the total organic carbon flowing every year into the world oceans. The idea that this is worth worrying about is a sick joke.
    My regards to all, and don’t believe everything you read,

      • Bill 2 January 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm says

        What value would be worth worrying about?

        Good question, Bill. I generally divide effects into first, second, and third order. First order effects change the phenomenon in question by 10% or more. They are definitely worth worrying about.
        Second order effects change the phenomenon by between 1% and 10%. They may be worth worrying about.
        Third order effects change the phenomenon by less than 1%, and anyone who thinks that’s worth worrying about needs to reconsider.

      • Thanks for the clarification. Following this, if the average global temperature rose by 25C, then it may or may not be worth worrying about.

      • Thanks, Bill. The global temperature is an oddity in that regard, because it is extraordinarily stable, with a variation of under ± 0.5% over the last 10,000 years … which goes to show that my rule of thumb is only that, a rule of thumb.
        However, remember that fresh water is about a millionth of the water on the planet, and there are many, many more sources of oceanic DOC than the rivers. As a result, the change in oceanic DOC from the glacier melt is guaranteed to be trivial.

  24. Isn’t the definition of an organic molecule one that contains carbon. Organic molecules are found all over the galaxy. Those molecules are not the result of anything man made.

    • Organic carbon is considered reduced carbon, i.e. still has electrons to donate as an energy source. CO2 is fully reduced and considered inorganic. CO is also considered non-organic.

      • Arrggh… CO2 is fully oxidized. Not reduced.
        CH4 is organic carbon, with the ability to donate 4 pairs of electrons as it oxidized to CO2.
        I’m reading and posting too fast without good QC. Better stop for the night.

    • There is the historical usage related to “life force” (vis vitalis). Thus, there was a notion that organic molecules are generated by living organisms. The distinction is arbitrary in many ways. I have no idea if something like this is part of the glacier study.
      Now we have this notion expressed as ‘a company that grows organically’ in contrast to one that grows by acquiring others. There are organic light emitting diodes. I once read a statement by someone confused about how a television could be organic in the same sense as organic gardening.

  25. The last time this happened it hustled in the Holocene era that we all enjoy today. I guess I don’t understand the problem this alarmism is supposed to suggest.

  26. Yet another source of valuable plant food. ! 🙂
    maybe 700ppm is on the cards at some future date 🙂 🙂

  27. Idiots.
    Somewhere along the line, the melt water carrying all this shock horror organic carbon will reach forest, grasslands, crop lands. It becomes a food source for micro-organisms, helps improve soil stability by micro-organisms binding soil particles together into aggregates or ‘peds’, facilitating root growth etc.
    Some grasses will grow in raw coal-mining waste. Black powdery stuff stinking of sulfur. I know. I have done it.
    Some larger plants will do the same, eg northen colonising birch. I have also observed cannabis plants coming up in colliery waste in NE UK. It wasn’t the hippies – it was old canary seed germinating.

    • “Some grasses will grow in raw coal-mining waste.”
      Indeed, but they don’t get any nutrition from it, except some minerals, and most certainly not from the coal. The coal comes from the CO2 in the air.

      • Some coals are very high in humic acids (humates) and thus make an excellent soil amendment to improve soil structure and nutrient availability. I have some in liquid form; the humates were extracted from Leonardite with lactic acid (whey from cheesemaking). It’s a bit more than just CO2 from the air.

  28. Another half truth.
    It depends on time scale… short term – carbon released as decaying matter is exposed – a carbon source.
    On the longer term, decades: A Laurentian Rain Forest is what you get… a huge carbon sink, that far outweighs the initial sink.

  29. So does this paper also follow it’s own logic and attribute the rising CO2 levels this past 150 years to melting glaciers and a naturally warming planet? No? What a surprise!

  30. Based on a population of 7 Billion, and a lifespan of 80 years, 1.7 million people die every week world wide. That’s about one Vienna per week. One Vienna! That’s almost half a Montreal! HALF! We have to consider the downstream effects of this! Where are we going to bury 1/2 a Montreal per week? PER WEEK!
    Does anyone know the conversion factor between Montreals and Mississippis? I keep on dividing by the ATIM (Amount That It Matters) and getting infinity.

    • Multiply Mississippis by 0.0006724 Olympic Swimming Pools to get Montreals in Kitten Sneeezes/Oil Tanker. (Gosh! I thought everyone knew that.)

      • Not really, Paul. You still have to multiply Kitten Sneezes/Oil Tanker by log(square root of Pie) to get Mississippis in Montreals.
        The warmistas would laugh themselves silly if Josh left out log(square root of Pie), although I think Josh is savvy enough about Catastrophic Climate Units to not make such an elementary error.

  31. I’m scared! I’m really scared. Everything is escalating so fast!!!!!!
    Right now it is all about CO2 but tomorrow it will be CO3 and then CO4! And God help us!!! What about CO5!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE ARE ALL DOOMED!!!!!! It just keeps getting worse and worse!!!!!!!!!! WHAT IF WE GET TO CO6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Eugene WR Gallun

  32. I’d just like to point out that the “Mississippi” is a perfectly valid measurement unit. As a watchmaker, I use them quite often when roughly counting time intervals in seconds:
    One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi…………
    It’s roughly equivalent to the European (British) “one thousand”:
    One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…..
    Having just checked it seems that this paper has made a mathematical error and that the “Glacial carbon outflow” is, in fact, approximately two Mississippi’s not 1/2 a [Mississippi]. Perhaps they got [something] upside-down again?
    [Actually, counting Mississippi’s halves is twice as slow as one Mississippi:
    One Mississippi, one-half Mississippi, two Mississippi, one-half Mississippi, three Mississippi, … Never mind. The mod’s are still trying to convert Davidmhoffer’s Vienna’s, Venice’s, Mississippi’s and Gandhi’s into equivalent Montreal units. Which must be some combination halfway between a metric-English-tonne in Euro’s and half-French-troy-ounces in pound sterling. .mod]

  33. I read the first sentence “As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt…” and stopped at that point. Glaciers beginning to melt? How stupid do these fools think we are?

    • According to popular media, almost all glaciers are showing signs of retreat. So if you want to educate, you really need to present data which either proves this wrong or proves it not scary.
      Now, I wouldn’t even try, because the whole picture is so well hidden behind scare stories.

      • You just have to remind them that glaciers have been ‘retreating’ since the start of the Holocene interglacial period 11,700 years ago. It’s an all natural cycle that they should fervently hope and pray does not end soon!

  34. The whole article is simply nonsense: the “organic” carbon is partly inorganic, as most sooth (black carbon) is and/or is real organic: plant rests which were covered in early times when the glaciers (re)started to grow and from algae’s near the surface. Sooth isn’t oxidized back to CO2, it remains sooth until eternity, except if captured by some fire (volcano…). One can find sooth from household fires of many thousands of years ago.
    Plant debris can decay to CO2 with the help of bacteria and molds, but that is part of the whole organic CO2 cycle, which for the moment is negative: there is more plant growth (especially in dry areas) than plant decay, as the oxygen balance shows. Thus more CO2 is taken away by plants than is used by the rest of the biosphere (bacteria, molds, insects, animals). That includes the relative small quantities of CO2 released by decaying organics from melting glaciers…

  35. Apparently these jokers include soot in ”organic carbon”. Now soot is almost pure elemental carbon (C2) which at environmental temperatures is one of the most stable and inert substances known. It has to be heated to ignition in order to oxidize to CO2. Not only do coal deposits last for hundreds of million years unchanged in the ground, but the vastly more fragile fusain (soot and charcoal from forest fires) also stays unchanged for hundreds of million years. In archaeological contexts, organics rot away, bones weather and are leached away by water, only stone tools and soot from hearths survive indefinitely.
    Once soot from glaciers makes it into the ocean it will sink to the bottom and be included into sediments where it will remain indefinitely, without having any effect whatsoever on the ecosystems or the coal cycle (no, it won’t be digested by any organisms, since it has zero nutritional value, like the fusain I mentioned above).

  36. Perusing Villager’s comments, it now seems on-message to agree that most of the world’s glaciers are retreeting, but that its’s no big deal (recovery from the from the LIA and all that)

  37. The psychology behind the summary from Tallahassee is probably telling. This might have started out as a perfectly reasonable project to assay carbon in the world’s glaciers. Reasonable, but very dull, and unlikely to be widely noticed. Adding sideways references to loss of glacial mass and speculating on ‘downstream’ consequences, however trivial, will get a whole shedload of routine citations, irrespective of the merit of the work itself. It is all getting very silly.

  38. I will not respond to all nonsense here, but one exeption I will make:
    No NC Brian (January 19, 2015 at 4:51 pm):
    “temperature rises, glaciers melt, CO2 goes up in that order. BIG SUPPRISE. :)”
    this is not correct:
    CO2 goes up, temperature rises, glaciers melt seems to me the right order of things;

    • Martin van Etten
      January 20, 2015 at 2:35 am
      I will not respond to all nonsense here, but one exeption…

      Please can you respond to my “nonsense” above?

    • dbstealey says:
      “On all time scales, CO2 follows temperature. No exceptions.”
      And goes on to show a graph where with steady CO2 increase while the temperature alternates between increasing temperature and decreasing temperature.
      Perhaps that was meant as a joke?
      In that case, that is almost as good as this one:
      “CO2 is simply not a problem. It has no cause-and-effect connection to temperature:”
      dbstealey did not notice that he just had stated that CO2 follows temperature. Temperature causes CO2 to rise. That is after all cause-and-effect connection to temperature.

      • The problem is that indeed CO2 changes always follows temperature changes, except for the past 160 years, as the above graph shows: CO2 goes up independent of temperature, because humans have added a lot of CO2 beyond what the “normal” CO2 level is for the current temperature…
        CO2 variability still follows temperature variability over short term: seasons and 2-3 years (El Niño / La Niña), but that doesn’t influence the current increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, neither does the small increase in temperature since the LIA (maximum 8 ppmv) and certainly not what comes from glaciers…

    • And there is more:
      ” On all time scales, CO2 follows temperature. No exceptions.”
      Followed by another comment:
      “Do you see a corellation?
      I don’t. I see a coincidence.”
      On all time scales CO2 follows temperature by coincidence?

    • Aah, but there is a cause and effect correlation. Just not at the scale you are looking at. On the millennial scale we see temperatures rise some hundreds of years before CO2 rises. At the end of an interglacial, temperatures fall some hundreds of years after glacial onset. The causality seems reasonably straightforward. Temperatures falling leads to die-off of large amounts of plant life that lock up CO2 since the bacteria and fungi responsible for decomposition become less and less active. At interglacial onset, bacteria and fungi that have lain dormant become increasingly active in decomposing plants that were preserved by the previous cold episode. Investigating the variables in this latter process is one of my hobbies. It’s called composting.

      • Martin van Etten,
        L&C are getting closer. But they make the same old mistake of assuming that sensitivity is the same always and everywhere. It isn’t.
        At 20 – 100 ppm, sensitivity was very high. But at 400 ppm, sensitivity is too minuscule to even measure.
        That is what Planet Earth is telling us. You can cite your discredited authorities, who are paid to come to a particular conclusion… or you can pay attention to the real world, which debunks climate alarmism. Your choice.

  39. adjective
    noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.

    This definition is from,
    “Organic Carbon” is a redundant term.
    Anything “organic” is by definition, Carbon based.

      • That is not “the” definition of organic. It is the lazy man’s half-assed google search definition.
        For your own edification re-search!

      • British Dictionary definitions for organic
        of, relating to, derived from, or characteristic of living plants and animals
        of or relating to animal or plant constituents or products having a carbon basis

      • Snarky Ad Homs are the product of a shallow thinker.
        Is two sources enough for you?
        As for being lazy, I’m at work, were are you?
        ( I boycott Google)

      • Okay, RobRoy,
        Try a “chemistry” definition. You’ll find why sodium bicarbonate and diamond and iron cyanide are not considered organic. Or, refer to joelobryan’s (corrected) post for a hint that it might be a little more complicated than how popular dictionaries perceive it.

      • Organic has many definitions (doncha love English?). From the OED:

        Applied to a class of compound substances which naturally exist as constituents of organized bodies (animals or plants), or are formed from compounds which so exist, as in organic acid, organic base, organic compound, organic molecule, organic radical; all these contain or are derived from hydrocarbon radicals, hence organic chemistry, that branch of chemistry which deals with organic substances, is the chemistry of the hydrocarbons and their derivatives.

        [Emphasis in original]

      • Organic as used in connexion with farming is usually not clearly understood by either its proponents or opponents. The first use of the term “organic farming” is by Lord Northbourne (aka Walter James, 4th Baron Northbourne). The term derives from his concept of “the farm as organism”, which he expounds in his book, Look to the Land (1940). Here organic clearly follows the OED’s definition 6.

        Of, pertaining to, or characterized by systematic connexion or coordination of parts in one whole; organized; systematic.

        Within the book Northbourne describes a holistic, ecologically balanced approach to farming. True, he wrote of “chemical farming versus organic farming” but this had little if anything to do with the chemical definition of organic. Mainstream farming in the 1940s (called “scientific farming at the time) had become reliant on not just synthesised inorganic fertilsers, but also an increasing raft of synthesised organic biocides.
        Northbourne’s promotion of the organic farming concept was preceded by Rudolf Steiner’s Biodynamic farming that bears a close resemblance to organic farming. Unsurprisingly as Northbourne was an early advocate of Steiner’s methods. Ehrenfried E. Pfeiffer, Biodynamics advocate in the USA, was advocating the use of 2-4-D amine (a component of Agent Orange) as a herbicide in the 1940s in a book he wrote called Weeds and What They Tell”.
        Probably more than you wanted to know…

      • Mr Git,
        I, for one, do hold the English language in high regard,(especially since we colonists took it over!) but this is more a matter of concept, rather than terminology. We can make up words to our hearts’ content but defining what they should apply to is the challenge.
        Typically, organic chemists (that is chemists that are made out of hydrocarbon radicals!) probably don’t refuse to include CO2 in their considerations, merely because it’s not organic. There might be some that eschew it because it’s so very dangerous.
        Plants, of course, have relied on inorganic fertilizers since first there were plants. It’s their job to make them organic.
        I heard of Steiner some years ago; bury an ox skull filled with manure in your field to make for a bountiful crop! Harmless except for the ox.

      • mebbe
        As it happens I studied chemistry at the tertiary level in 1969 along with mathematics, biology and physics. However, this does not make me old enough to have devised the definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary I provided. Quoting from Chemistry: Experimental Foundations, Prentice Hall 1970:

        … the chemistry of carbon is called organic chemistry… This term includes all compounds of carbon except CO2, CO and a handful of ionic substances such as sodium carbonate and sodium cyanide.

        Thanks for displaying your ignorance about Biodynamics, thus making my point about both advocates and opponents being pretty much equally ignorant. Horn manure (preparation 500) is made with cow manure inserted into cow horns and buried over winter, not ox skulls. You also omitted the requirement to stir 25 gm of 500 in 13 l of water in alternating directions for 60 minutes to introduce chaos. That’s sufficient to spray on an acre.
        Still, you’re not as bad as the greenie who told me he preferred Biodynamic to organic because it was animal-free.

      • The Pompous Git,
        Forgive me for not according you your full title, previously.
        You appear to have three well-loved books on your shelf and likely a certificate to honour your scientific achievements upon your wall.
        I didn’t realize I was locking horns (pun, get it?) with one so erudite and I freely admit that my ignorance of “biodynamics” is great, though not quite as great as I wish it were.
        I think you err when you say I’m not as bad as the greenie who preferred biodynamic over organic because it was animal-free. I believe I am far worse since I consider the ox skull approach infinitely more efficacious, if only because you require fewer oxen.
        Chacun à son goût, as the English say.

      • mebbe
        There are several hundred well-loved books on my shelves (and desks, floor etc.) but sadly no degree certificates. UNE offered me a degree in agriculture if I completed one third year unit so that I could undertake a PhD, but I declined. Academe seems to need me far more than I need academe.

        I consider the ox skull approach infinitely more efficacious, if only because you require fewer oxen.

        Feel free to prove that. What has exercised me over the 25 years ago since giving BD away (I found the stirring tedious) is answering the rather interesting question of Why does “Biodynamics work?” I suspect a skull buried in the corner of a paddock will have close to nil effect over most of the paddock.

        Chacun à son goût, as the English say.

        It’s many years since I conversed in French fluently, but shouldn’t that be “à chacun son goût?” I prefer the expression de gustibus non disputandum est.
        And now it’s time for me to prepare macaroni carbonara for Mrs Git’s delectation. We might just wash it down with a glass or three of Viking Grand Shiraz.
        Oddly enough a Biodynamic wine.

  40. Suggestion – McDonalds could sell glacier melt as slushies.
    On a really, really, really serious note – glaciers have never, ever melted before.

  41. Why don’t these environmental sociologists get the Florida State U’s Chemistry department to read it before it goes to press. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was referring to in a comment to joeldshore arguing about ‘impact factors’ of Nature and Nature Jr. compared to Chinese Academy of Science’s “Science Bulletin” which he was denigrating. If you don’t let your journal fill up with today’s bumpf du jour, it will have lower “impact factors”. Having switched the concern from CO2 to carbon has netted a couple of science lites that think soot is the same thing as CO2.
    The actual CO2 in the glaciers is lower in concentration than is currently in the atmosphere by about a third. If released it will dilute the ocean’s CO2 content, the idiots.

    • But it isn’t about CO2, it’s about elemental and other forms of carbon being used as extra plant food in the ocean.

      • Plants do not utilize elemental carbon, neither in the oceans nor on land. They utilize CO2, as I understand.

      • “Plants do not utilize elemental carbon”
        The Newsweek article quotes Spencer: “So the microbes at the base of the food web would use this carbon much more readily,” says Spencer. “It’s like putting a cake in front of them. The effect cascades up the food web, to insect larvae, then fish, then birds, and so on.”

      • Elemental carbon cannot be metabolized by any existing organism whatever this Spencer whoever he is might hve said. He probably means hydrocarbons or possibly even carbohydrates. But I suppose when carbon dioxide has degenerated to just “carbon” in the MSM anything else containing carbon is going the same way, After all a lot of jouirnalists have trouble with these sophisticated polysyllabic terms.

      • “Elemental carbon” refers to pure carbon, unbound in any molecule except as graphite and diamond. As such, it cannot be utilized organically. It would be like eating charcoal.
        The use of the term ” carbon” as a catch-all phrase reflects the fuzziness of the thinking of the alarmists. My rule of thumb: fuzzy terms=fuzzy brains.
        In fact, it is slop-over from the demonization of CO2; transfer the stigma to carbon and you have multiplied the funding opportunities.

    • Their measurements are of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), they claim a mean concentration of 0.97 mgC/L, so they are not referring to ‘elemental carbon’.

  42. You really should point to the main thrust of the paper which is two-faced actually saying that the extra carbon is nutritional and therefore good for more life but then attempts to parlay that idea into something bad saying it will come to a crashing halt when all the glaciers are GONE. Of course they put in the gloom and doom stuff, it’s the only way to get further funding.

    • Mike M, I may have missed it but there was no link to the paper or abstract in the above post. I wish there was. I read the Newswek article you just posted and do see this bright spot which is similar to the iron discharge I suggested above being beneficial. It’s a pity the abstract does not explicitly say so but one of the authors says so in the Newsweek story. Since I’m fossil fuel funded I will now pay for the full paper. 😉

      But they do know that glacial organic carbon is a very good food source for the carbon-eating organisms at the bottom of the food chain—much better than other types of organic carbon, which usually gets into waterways from forests and wetlands.
      So the microbes at the base of the food web would use this carbon much more readily,” says Spencer. “It’s like putting a cake in front of them. The effect cascades up the food web, to insect larvae, then fish, then birds, and so on.”
      This might initially result in a more productive ecosystem. Fisheries may see fish populations go up. But it won’t last. Once glaciers disappear or decline to the point where their contribution of carbon is negligible…..

      • One is tempted to think that the organic carbon has become part of the carbon cycle. While the input is happening the biomass is increasing; once it stops, it stops. Big deal. One can imagine these researchers and gerbillists coming across a reef of gold and crying because mining it will come to an end when they’ve mined it all. “Oh, woe is me!” I hear them cry.

  43. Norwegian archeologists in Oppland fylke has discovered arrow shafts and “runepinnar” as the local glacier retreats. The arrow shaft is some 6000 years old and the “runepinne” ( a small piece of wood inscribed with rune signs, the predecessor of our post-its ) is deemed to be 1000 year.
    My conclusion is that the stone-age people had oil-fired heating, and the viking ships were diesel powered. Or maybe the freezing point of water was different that long ago.
    Or, maybe, the climate was at least as warm as today.

    • In 1991, the 5,300 year old body of a primeval european was found partially exposed on a Tyrolean glacier. The still partially ice-encased body was at 10,500 feet, between the mountain passes Hauslabjoch and Tisenjoch, on the east ridge of the Fineilspitze in the Ötztal Alps on the Austrian–Italian border. The cadaver was knicknamed ‘Otzi’, for the region he was found in. Subsequent autopsy of the mummified remains showed he had died at the top of the pass and was subsequently buried under snow that became sessile glacial ice at the pass peak. There his body remained until the earth again warmed sufficiently 5,300 years later to reveal his mummified remains.
      This is yet another well documented example of physical evidence demonstrating the earth’s regional climates have gone through repeated natural cycles of warming and cooling within the span of ‘modern’ human existence. The warming cycle since 1978 and plateau since 1998 fits well within the typical climate ranges and is otherwise unremarkable, as evidenced here. It is also supported by the proximate examples presented by Bengt Abelsson, Mike M., and repeated WUWT discussions of medieval warming period agricultural Norse settlements on Greenland that are ‘thawing out’ now.
      The physical evidence refutes the climate models, the adjusted temperature data sets, and the overheated spew of climate catastrophists everywhere.

  44. The first four words did it for me – ‘As the Earth warms..’ which it only seems to do in crooked temperature data from NOAA and NASA et al, and models from computer gamers.

  45. The first sentence of the above article identifies it as fiction.
    Most of the world’s glacier volume is in Antarctica.
    There, all glaciers are expanding with the exception of the ones with geothermal heat underneath them.
    The more relevant and interesting question is, will Antarctic sea ice surviving through summer begin to increase?
    Every so often in the NH the bipolar seesaw overdoes it and overloads the AMOC feedback resulting in a choke-off of deep water formation and interruption of the AMOC. It happens erratically but continually. This will be the next significant climate event.

  46. Keep in mind that these “Organic Carbons” are not CO2 that could add to CAGW. I am not a bioligist, but wouldn’t organic compounds going into the ocean help furtalize the ocean?

  47. And organic carbon is a problem because …
    I thought organic carbon plus some ground up rock was what constitutes fertile soil.
    Last time I checked, soil was good for plants and the ecosystem, and loss of soil by erosion was bad.
    Maybe I’m just naïve. When global warming causes erosion which reduces soil, then soil is good.
    But if retreating glaciers add to fertile soil, then fertile soil becomes bad.
    See – it doesn’t take long to learn post-modern climate science.
    And remember – our new OCO CO2 sniffing satellite shows all that bad CO2 entering the atmosphere at high latitudes due to all the melting glaciers, giving that dominant high latitude CO2 signal:

    • Phlogiston, careful: that graph is for 6 weeks of data only midst of one of the seasons. On need at least a full year of data to roughly know all natural ins and outs, and probably several years to have a quantitative idea of the human contribution…

      • Horse grunt, Englbeen.
        There is _no_ source of anthropogenic CO2 identifiable in this data. You are hoping that it will show up after ten thousand more orbits around the poles. Again, horsegrunt.
        Industry and human activity are not seasonal.

      • mpainter: as human emissions are only 3% (in fact 7%) of natural emissions and sinks, it takes some more time to show where the main human sources are (although East China is quite red already).
        The seasonal change in the period of the data in the NH is +5 ppmv, the human contribution +1.2 ppmv or 0.03 ppmv/day, be it concentrated in relative small areas. I don’t know what the accuracy of the satellites is, but I think that is pretty hard to detect…
        After a full year most of the seasonal natural sources and sinks compensate each other, except for the equator-poles fluxes.

      • All assumptions about CO2 flux from natural sources is suspect. The satellite data confirms that the human contribution is undetectable by this instrument. Will it be seen a year from now on say, Jan 15? I believe not.

      • Ferdinand
        The Japanese already have a CO2 measuring satellite. They have year round CO2 maps posted (sorry no link to hand). I took a look – no clear human signal was there. In one month CO2 was dominated by North Africa and the Sahara desert – WUWT?

      • The Japanese satellite instrument was not accurate enough to detect the human signal, the OCO-2 satellite has a possibility to focus during a longer time on a fixed place of the surface, maybe sufficient. But as the satellite only measures around midday, when turbulence is increasing, I am afraid that it still is not sufficient, even when most human releases are concentrated in relative small areas…

    • Phlogiston, I was taught that most of the inorganic nutrients absorbed by plants come from the silt fraction of the soil. If there’s one thing glaciers are good at it’s creating silt (finely divided rock). So yes, retreating glaciers reveal some of the best farming soils. And they have the distinct advantage over the volcanic soils of not being accompanied by an object with the distinct likelihood of covering you with lava and volcanic ash every few hundred years.

      • GT
        Good point. Glacial produced soil is hugely valuable to the biosphere. The monster Cryogenian glaciations 650-800 million years ago did a lot to “lay the ground” for the subsequent colonisation of land by multicellular plants and eventually trees. This brought moisture and the hydrological cycle onto formerly arid land in a way that algae and Cyanobacteria hadn’t been able to do. This was in large part thanks to glacial soils.

      • Sadly the silt in The Git’s soil is ancient and thus much has leached from it over the millennia. Australia is known as the “trace element desert”. Boron, molybdenum and even the macro element magnesium are all in short supply and thus need to be added to the soil to optimise yields and disease resistance. Still, I remain amazed at what the bacteria and fungi can do to release nutrients when their needs are catered for.

  48. Has anyone thought about how much carbon a human being holds. As we increase constantly, both in mass and number, we must bind an ever increasing amount of carbon.
    Is the population explosion really a benefit?

    • Svend asks:
      Is the population explosion really a benefit?
      Generally, yes. Malthus was in error. Rising populations bring about rising wealth, which in turn brings about better environmental protection.
      The empirical evidence for those effects is irrefutable. The only real problem is excessive government.

  49. I’m planning to write a paper, reporting my metaphysical theory, on the co2 and methane emissions we see, coming from termites, which inhabit wood chip piles being sent to Europe, so they can make their biofuels quotas.

  50. @ dbstealey January 21, 2015 at 4:19 am
    L&C have 1,5 degree C sensitivity for doubling CO2
    IPCC has something like 3 degrees
    some alarmists have 6 degrees for doubling
    dbstealey says its minuscule and suggests to to pay attention to the real world
    so how to explain the warm times of miocene and pliocene or even the paleocene/eocene?
    were we closer to the sun?

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