Cornell University's Greenland ice melt hype

From Cornell University and the Department of Inflated Headlines come this misleading claim that really should be anything new, and certainly not “groundbreaking” as they claim in this press released. After all, the tops of glaciers have been melting in the summer and making runoff meltwater which finds its way to the bottom of glaciers through natural crevices for millions of years. This is nothing but hype to make it seem “worse than we thought”.

Atmospheric warming heats the bottom of ice sheets, as well as the top

This is an example of a supraglacial lake and rivers on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The water flows down a hole (a moulin) in to the ice sheet in the center right. Credit Thomas Nylen, NSF, 2007
This is an example of a supraglacial lake and rivers on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The water flows down a hole (a moulin) in to the ice sheet in the center right. Credit Thomas Nylen, NSF, 2007

ITHACA, N.Y. – A team of scientists led by Cornell University Earth and Atmospheric Sciences researcher Michael Willis, has published a new paper showing for the first time that meltwater from the surface of an ice cap in northeastern Greenland can make its way beneath the ice and become trapped, refilling a subglacial lake. This meltwater provides heat to the bottom of the ice sheet.

These groundbreaking findings provide new information about atmospheric warming and its affect on the critical zone at the base of the ice. The warmth provided by the water could make the ice sheet move faster and alter how it responds to the changing climate.

The research is detailed in a new paper published online by the journal Nature on Jan. 21. The paper was written by Willis, who is also an adjunct faculty member in the geological sciences department at UNC-Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, along with co-authors Bradley Herried, Polar Geospatial Center, University of Minnesota; Michael Bevis, School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University and Robin Bell, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

“We’re seeing surface meltwater make its way to the base of the ice where it can get trapped and stored at the boundary between the bedrock beneath the ice sheet and the ice itself. As the lake beneath the ice fills with surface meltwater, the heat released by this trapped meltwater can soften surrounding ice, which may eventually cause an increase in ice flow,” said Willis.

The direct link between the surface meltwater and the filling of a lake at the base of the ice has never been seen before. Over the last few years the number of lakes on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet has greatly increased. Surface lakes are also occurring much farther inland at higher altitudes than in the past. If this mechanism of transferring water and warmth from the surface lakes to the bottom of the ice sheet is common then the Greenland Ice Sheet is likely to respond more rapidly to climate change than is currently predicted.

The Greenland ice sheet comprises about 80 percent of the land mass of Greenland and previous studies have documented that the ice sheet is melting at a faster rate due to climate change. The movement of meltwater beneath the ice sheet, from the interior to the ocean, is the topic of many investigations as it can control the speed at which the ice sheet moves. This is the first study to document that surface water can penetrate to the bottom of an ice cap and be trapped in place. Researchers say this process could also occur at other large bodies of ice.

The study was sparked in 2012 when Willis was mapping ice changes around the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet as part of a study funded by U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to understand how much of the accelerating ice loss in Greenland is caused by melting and how much is caused by the increase of ice moving into the ocean.

During his research, Willis spotted a 70-meter-deep hole (the equivalent of a 10-story building) that had formed when a subglacial lake, far beneath the ice surface, emptied in the late fall of 2011. Subglacial lakes are rare in Greenland, and the presence of such a lake in the far northeast came as a surprise. The ice in this region is much too slow, too cold and too thin to allow melting beneath the ice cap, which is how a subglacial lake usually forms.

 

Between 2012 and 2014, Willis watched as summer meltwater on the surface of the ice made its way down cracks around the hole and refilled the empty lake basin at the base of the ice cap. When water was flowing on the surface, the subglacial lake filled. When water stopped flowing on the surface, the subglacial lake stopped refilling.

“Each summer scientists see bright blue streams form on the surface of Greenland as warm air melts the ice sheet. What happens to this water when it disappears into cracks in the ice has remained a mystery.

“This discovery that water can be stored in lakes beneath the ice shows how the plumbing on the surface is linked to the plumbing at the base,” said co-author Robin Bell.

Willis and the researchers were able to pinpoint when the subglacial lake refilled using data collected from high-resolution satellite images from the University of Minnesota’s Polar Geospatial Center, as well as data from NASA’s operation IceBridge for calibration and verification.

The Cornell-led team calculated that the lake beneath the ice has filled about half way since its 2011 blowout that originally drove water from the lake at a volume of 215 cubic meters per second (nearly 57,000 gallons–close to the volume of a 30-foot-by-50-foot backyard swimming pool every second.) As the lake refills, the surface meltwater carries stored heat, called latent heat, along with it from the relatively warm atmosphere to the icy depths. This latent heat reduces the stiffness of the surrounding ice and makes the ice more likely to flow out to sea.

Even though researchers have long known of the existence of subglacial lakes, never before have they witnessed any refilling from the surface. The refilling signals to researchers that Greenland’s ice loss has likely reached a milestone.

“We can actually see the meltwater pour down into these holes and then watch these subglacial lakes drain out and fill up again in real time. With melting like that, even the deep interior of the ice sheet is going to change. If enough water is pouring down into the Greenland Ice Sheet for us to see the same subglacial lake empty and refill itself over and over, then there must be so much latent heat being released under the ice that we’d have to expect it to change the large-scale behavior of the ice sheet,” said study co-author Bevis.

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MCourtney
January 21, 2015 1:14 pm

If enough water is pouring down into the Greenland Ice Sheet for us to see the same subglacial lake empty and refill itself over and over, then there must be so much latent heat being released under the ice that we’d have to expect it to change the large-scale behavior of the ice sheet,” said study co-author Bevis.

Who assumes that this hasn’t always been the large scale behaviour of the ice sheet.

DonM
Reply to  MCourtney
January 21, 2015 5:09 pm

Its the first time I’ve seen it, so it must be not have been happening in the past. If it had been happening in the past I would have know about it.
Everything revolves around me.

logos_wrench
Reply to  DonM
January 21, 2015 10:42 pm

The “researchers ” must be babyboomers.

Just an engineer
Reply to  DonM
January 22, 2015 5:49 am

@logos_wrench , nah they aren’t old enough maybe X or Y.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  MCourtney
January 21, 2015 5:42 pm

Humans living near ice sheets have probably been witnessing this phenomenon for 13,000 years or more.

Reply to  MCourtney
January 21, 2015 10:20 pm

“From Cornell University and the Department of Inflated Headlines come this misleading claim that really should be anything new, ”
Anthony, do you mean “should not be anything new” or maybe “should be nothing new” ?

george e. smith
Reply to  tonythomas061
January 23, 2015 11:50 am

“”””…..As the lake refills, the surface meltwater carries stored heat, called latent heat, along with it from the relatively warm atmosphere to the icy depths. …..”””””
And I hasten to point out that LATENT HEAT (in this case) is at ZERO DEG. C
It is NOT at some “relatively warm atmosphere” temperature.
Once the ice has melted, and lost its LATENT HEAT (of freezing), the addition of further non latent heat (noun) from the atmosphere (via conduction) is rather weak; but the puddle water can heat (verb) from solar radiation absorption, which will not be as great as the deep ocean absorption of solar radiant energy.

johnmarshall
Reply to  MCourtney
January 22, 2015 2:56 am

The fact that these drain holes have a well known name going back years must mean something. Moulins are summer items that have been there as long as the ice sheet.

Annie
Reply to  MCourtney
January 22, 2015 12:46 pm

Exactly. My patience was wearing rather thin as I read the post.

Rick K
January 21, 2015 1:15 pm

Seems to be a popular topic…

Jimbo
January 21, 2015 1:17 pm

A team of scientists led by Cornell University Earth and Atmospheric Sciences researcher Michael Willis, has published a new paper showing for the first time that meltwater from the surface of an ice cap in northeastern Greenland can make its way beneath the ice and become trapped, refilling a subglacial lake. This meltwater provides heat to the bottom of the ice sheet.

Is it just possible this has happened before? Naaaah.

Abstract – 1 May 2014
Climate change and forest fires synergistically drive widespread melt events of the Greenland Ice Sheet
The warmest temperature recorded in the core occurred in 1785, but widespread melting did not occur due to low BC concentration….
[See figures]
http://www.pnas.org/content/111/22/7964.full.pdf+html
——-
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 – 10 Nov 2011
High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core
….The record indicates that warmer temperatures were the norm in the earlier part of the past 4000 years, including century-long intervals nearly 1°C warmer than the present decade (2001–2010). Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years, a period that seems to include part of the Holocene…..
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011GL049444/abstract
——-
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

Paul
Reply to  Jimbo
January 21, 2015 1:42 pm

Sorry Jimbo, that’s just weather, Cornell clearly states this is climate change.

JohnB
Reply to  Jimbo
January 21, 2015 2:50 pm

Jimbo, I took a different meaning from that paragraph. Rather than saying it was the first time the movement of water to the base was observed, it was saying that it was the paper that “showed for the first time” that it happened and how.

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  JohnB
January 21, 2015 6:01 pm

I thought that the interior land surface of Greenland was below sea level anyway. So how could a lake down there facilitate the flow of ice above it uphill into the sea?

Ray Boorman
Reply to  JohnB
January 22, 2015 10:48 pm

Noaa – you are not allowed to state the obvious, it upsets the warmists, & confuses the general public. Besides, in warmist scenario’s, water can flow any which-way they want it to, so there!!

Eyal Porat
Reply to  Jimbo
January 21, 2015 9:49 pm

Excellent summary.
Now all that is left to do is forward this to the authors of this “ground breaking” paper.
I am sure they were so busy revealing the obvious and known info they just did not have the time to check these up yet.

george e. smith
Reply to  Jimbo
January 22, 2015 10:31 am

“””””…… This melt water provides heat to the bottom of the ice sheet……”””””
So just think on that Jimbo !
We have ice on the top of the ice, which warms up to zero, and then absorbs some more “heat” (noun) to become liquid water, still at zero, which then runs down a Moulin Ridge in the ice underneath the melted ice that became water, and then some additional mgh kinetic energy is added to it, until it finally gets to the bottom of the ice, where there happens to be tons of ice.
Now the only way that I know of whereby the water that was ice can give up heat to the ice that is ice, is if that water turns back into ice releasing latent heat, and the only thing that that released heat energy can do, is to add heat to the ice that is ice, and melt some of it.
So the ice that was ice becomes water which goes down to the bottom to turn back into ice and release some of the ice that is ice to become water.
See how dangerous this is for mankind ??

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  george e. smith
January 22, 2015 11:35 am

George e .smith (replying to jimbo)
So the ice that was ice becomes water which goes down to the bottom to turn back into ice and release some of the ice that is ice to become water.
See how dangerous this is for mankind ??

But it is even worse than that.
The center of Greenland’s ice cap is a bowl, rising very, very oh-so-very slowly from the 1000 – 3000 meter high mountains retaining it on the east, south, west and north to a southern central peak some 3000 meters above sea level and a second, more northern peak 3290 meters high, and then gradually back down to the mountain peaks on the far side. Thus, Greenland’s central ice cap cannot “escape” out to slide into the sea – it is already trapped by the mountains around it. But as high as the center of Greenland’s ice cap is, its base is already below sea level.
If melt water from the surface-warmed ice cap above were to melt, it could only go down to 0.0 elevation if it were to “flow” to the sea at all. (And this flow downhill requires we assume the presence of fissures and a network of linked moulins as well. That’s not a bad assumption, but it still has to be made – so large underground “lakes” are very rare, and moderate underground lakes relatively rare. Heck, topside natural lakes are relatively rare as well. Topside small ponds and basins are more common, and they become more common as the size decreases.) If Greenland’s central ice cap could “accelerate moving” downhill by fresh meltwater water lubrication and “slide off” the basin rocky floor as concluded by the intent of this Penn State paper, then such ice MUST be able to “flow” downhill towards the sea (and then be swept away, pushed out to sea, cracked off, melted or otherwise moved out of the way of additional ice sliding downhill.) But water cannot naturally flow uphill, and water can only flow uphill – or can flow from “uphill” to some point below sea level! – if artificially pressured by some force and ALSO restrained completely within the pressure boundary. Ice is not a liquid, but a contiguous flowing solid and CAN be pushed uphill, and CAN be “pushed down” and “held down” against a rocky bottom that is below sea level. But ice ONLY does that when it has displaced all of the water present within it (by melting from above or by capillary action below) AND the height of the ice above sea level is much, much greater than the natural buoyancy of the ice below sea water level. AND, this pressure from above MUST BE restrained by sideways pressure on the ice mass such as nearby larger ice masses or rock walls.
But, if sea water from around Greenland could get to the center low spots through the surrounding mountains from coastal waters, this sea water would already be flowing there because the base of the ocean is at great pressure. And, if seawater from around Greenland could get below Greenland’s ice cap, that ice cap would not – could not! – be firmly “grounded” 1300 meters below sea level across the center of Greenland’s rocky base.
So.
Greenland’s Great Central valley is far below sea level.
Greenland’s Great Central Valley is NOT connected to the ocean, and CANNOT fill up with ocean water until the surrounding mountains are breached by tunnel or rivers flowing backwards uphill from the ocean, across the mountain peaks, then back downhill from the mountain peaks inland.
Greenland’s central ice cap CANNOT “escape” or slide out to sea, even IF lubricated by meltwater from above.
Greenland’s small area ring of sea-side mountain glaciers “might” slide to sea faster if lubricated by meltwater from above, but at 76,000 km^2 these glaciers represent less than 3-4% of Greenland’s total ice area, and less than 5% of any glaciers worldwide have ever been found to slide faster by freshwater lubrication.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland_ice_sheet#mediaviewer/File:Cambios_en_la_capa_de_hielo_de_Groenlandia.jpg
But it is even worse than that!
Look at Wikipedia’s own CAGW graphic. ONLY the far edges of the ice sheet are melting (getting lower!) the central domes of Greenland’s ice sheet are all getting higher by 2.0 to 60 cm/year!

rocketplumber
Reply to  george e. smith
January 22, 2015 12:34 pm

All sarcasm aside, the melting of ice at the surface, transport to a greater depth (where the existing ice is well below 0°C), and refreezing the meltwater there has the net effect of warming up the still frozen deep ice from -X °C to (-X+delta) °C. This really does have some significance because it transports heat downward much more effectively than direct conduction through the ice, and reduces the stiffness of the deep ice.
I still doubt that it has enough effect to substantially increase movement of the glacier, but that’s what numbers are for.

Reply to  george e. smith
January 22, 2015 2:14 pm

Exactly my thoughts!

hunter
Reply to  Jimbo
January 22, 2015 11:09 am

Do not confuse (but I am being redundant) climate concerned people with facts or context.

January 21, 2015 1:19 pm

Data for rooter to misinterpret.

Jimbo
Reply to  Mike Bromley the Kurd
January 21, 2015 2:14 pm

Here is another interpretation.
July 6, 2014
“Lying with Statistics: The National Climate Assessment Falsely Hypes Ice Loss in Greenland and Antarctica”
by E. Calvin Beisner and J.C. Keister
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/07/06/lying-with-statistics-the-national-climate-assessment-falsely-hypes-ice-loss-in-greenland-and-antarctica/

January 21, 2015 1:21 pm

Its Greenland melting whack-mole day. See technical/scientific post to previous thread. Nuf said.

January 21, 2015 1:23 pm

They used the wrong Willis…

kenw
Reply to  Jon Philip Peterson
January 21, 2015 1:24 pm

bingo….

James Bull
Reply to  Jon Philip Peterson
January 22, 2015 12:43 am

Sounds like that to me as well.
Ours likes data, history and asking questions.
James Bull

mkelly
January 21, 2015 1:25 pm

“When water was flowing on the surface, the subglacial lake filled. When water stopped flowing on the surface, the subglacial lake stopped refilling.”
======
This has to be the most profound statement I have ever seen from any study on any subject about climate change. Awe inspiring.

Paul
Reply to  mkelly
January 21, 2015 1:47 pm

“…the most profound statement…Awe inspiring”
Well let’s be fair. It’s not just model output, but an actual real live observation. (maybe like his first?)

Reply to  Paul
January 21, 2015 2:02 pm

noticed that but then they leaped into “may”, “could” . . . realms of climate supposition

Babsy
Reply to  mkelly
January 21, 2015 3:59 pm

I’ll bet it makes into the first edition of “Famous Climate Change Quotes”!

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  mkelly
January 21, 2015 5:12 pm

Before man made global warming, melt-waters in the Greenland ice-sheet used to flow UPWARDS, now they flow DOWNWARDS. Clearly things are worse than had hoped for..

benofhouston
Reply to  mkelly
January 22, 2015 9:35 am

Well, it’s obvious once you understand that the surface water is filling the subglacial lake, which is what this paper was trying to prove instead of, (I guess), pressure-based melting of the glacier foundation, which would lessen during spring melting and maximize in the winter.
So while the tone is a bit pedantic, think of it as a what-we-should-expect-if-true checklist instead of something breathtaking in its own right.
So I think your mockery is misplaced here.

January 21, 2015 1:30 pm

Here’s a little something I use on Warmists when they start quoting figures about melting ice caps.
Flow rate of Niagara Falls (average) 110,000 cubic metres per minute x 60 x 24 x 365 = 5.8 Billion tonnes a year.
I just love that glow of hatred they get in their eyes!

Barry
Reply to  Charles Nelson
January 21, 2015 1:37 pm

I don’t see your point. Niagara Falls is part of the (short-term) hydrologic cycle. Melting land ice contributes directly to sea level rise. Just because one number is large doesn’t mean the other is insignificant.

Sun Spot
Reply to  Barry
January 21, 2015 1:48 pm

@Barry, your point or lack thereof is utterly meaningless and incredibly underwhelming.

bones
Reply to  Charles Nelson
January 21, 2015 5:37 pm

That’s 58 B

ItsStillTooColdInCanada
January 21, 2015 1:40 pm

Yesterday I learned that a polar bear does NOT crap in the woods, hence carbon has been accumulating in Arctic glacier Ice. Hey, a lot of them live north of the treeline. My list of things to worry about from climate change now has a line drawn through “Ocean De-Bicarbonation”.
Today I learned that glacier meltwater runs downhill.
When daily news of “groundbreaking findings” sounds like nothing more than marketing hype for the next grant application, I get the impression of an industry where too many people are making a career of sitting around and thinking stuff up.

January 21, 2015 1:48 pm

I have a hypothesis about the sudden Greenland melting deluge of warmunist CAGW PR.
Warmest ever turned out to be a catastrophe last week for Gavin, NASA, and NOAA. Turns out both agencies officially estimated the probability that their PR was correct was less than 50%. Ouch.
The easiest Joe Public ‘catastrophe’ is not that we are all going to fry. Because most survive summers. It is that some of us are going to drown because of SLR. (Miami, wake up. Atlantic City…well, never mind.)
But SLR has not been cooperating. So a recent paper used models to lower the past SLR rate, and was promptly eviscerated here. So the Amundsen Embayment in West Antarctica was recruited by NASA, and that stuff got eviscerated elsewhere (PIG is apparently also over active volcanoes). East Antarctica gets more snow than we thought due to Atmospheric Rivers, see recent thread here. The only place left to turn ( a great double entendre revealed with the addition of three words, ‘for the left’, but I digress…) is previously debunked Greenland. Since only GIS, WAIS, and EAIS hold enough ice to appreciably change SLR. But WAIS and EAIS are not cooperating despite warmunists best pal reviewed efforts.
Essays Tipping Points, By Land or By Sea, and Pseudo Precision in ebook Blowing Smoke cover all this in a rather random but hopefully amusing (yet IMO precise scientifically) way.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 21, 2015 2:14 pm

Can we test that hypothesis? Maybe how long SLR lasts in news cycle vs other catastrophe efforts? Not sarcastic here.
What can we call this research? A Longitudinal Examination of the Public Durability for Climate Related/ Reported Phenomena across Main Stream Media in the Interglacial Period Downscaled between Lima and Paris
with a full boatload of esteemed authors . . .

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Bubba Cow
January 21, 2015 7:17 pm

LEPDCRRPMSMIPDLP? Looks painful.

Patrick B
Reply to  Bubba Cow
January 21, 2015 8:46 pm

No need to test the hypothesis. For a 3 million dollar grant I can build a computer model of climate change publicity that will support whatever outcome you want. Of course further studies will then be required…

Bob B.
January 21, 2015 1:48 pm

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice-sheet_dynamics
Supraglacial lakes represent another possible supply of liquid water to the base of glaciers, so they can play an important role in accelerating glacial motion. Lakes of a diameter greater than ~300 m are capable of creating a fluid-filled crevasse to the glacier/bed interface. When these crevasses form, the entirety of the lake’s (relatively warm) contents can reach the base of the glacier in as little as 2–18 hours – lubricating the bed and causing the glacier to surge.[6] Water that reaches the bed of a glacier may freeze there, increasing the thickness of the glacier by pushing it up from below.[7]

Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 1:57 pm

The paper text includes this :
“Over the last few years the number of lakes on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet has greatly increased. Surface lakes are also occurring much farther inland at higher altitudes than in the past. If this mechanism of transferring water and warmth from the surface lakes to the bottom of the ice sheet is common then the Greenland Ice Sheet is likely to respond more rapidly to climate change than is currently predicted.”
There almost certainly was seepage of surface melt water to the bottom of the ice sheet in the past. If there is now more surface lakes and surface water, and if the surface water back much farther inland than in the past then more liquid water is going to end up at the bottom of the ice sheet, which will not only provide more lubrication in places which had some lubrication before, but also lubricate parts of the glacier which are further inland.
Hence it is very likely that the glaciers will speed up, given the larger lubricated areas recently.
Why Watts chooses to belittle this research finding is beyond me. It doesn’t make him look very good.

kenw
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 2:12 pm

more than when? How many were there 100 years ago? 1000? 10,000?

Alx
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 2:16 pm

I notice a lot of IFs in the quote and in your speculation about lubrication. Anyone can play the IF game.
IF warming continues and IF what occurred to civilization as humanity came out of the ice age repeats itself, then we can look forward to one of the greatest leaps of civilization in recorded history.
The research is fine, the issue is the off the wall speculation continually predicting one disastrous effect after another ad-nausea. It is almost like a sickness of the mind, where no matter what the color being studied it must invariably be reported as black.

Reply to  Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 2:45 pm

Climate Pete, Greenland is bowl shaped. Other than the ‘out of rim’ margins, can never creep sluff off. See essay Tiipping Points in ebook Blowing Smoke. Two images, footnotes, everything to educate you if you want to learn. Almost all Greenland ice would have to melt, which won’t happen either (see previous thread post for details and peer reviewed references).
Neatest thing is Greenland’s bowl is not mainly from Arctic GIS weight. Far too ‘big and steep’. Greenland is an unusual combination of two tectonic plate fragments with mountain edges that happened to collide (hence the newly discovered northwestern ‘Grand Canyon’ buried under 2,5 kilometers of ice…), and now play a major role in the planet’s current climate. Fascinating geology. Read up on it. Bit of a problem tho for the Cornell warmunist subject of this thread.

chri moffatt
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 21, 2015 4:22 pm

Which is perhaps why Greenland has such a large icesheet to begin with.
” called latent heat…..” – no physicists in that bunch then.

DD More
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 2:48 pm

Pete, please look at a relief map of Greenland. You will notice what many call a bowl shape. Very little ice mass is on the rim of the bowl and subject to your lube & speed up. The vast majority would only slide to the middle. Also, past reports of the below surface melt water lakes get hung up well before reaching the rock ground.

u.k.(us)
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 4:48 pm

How about this… when it comes to glaciers everybody is just guessing.
I dare you to prove me wrong.
Wanna make someone look bad, here’s your big chance.
Correct with data my opinion above.

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 5:46 pm

Climate Pete
There almost certainly was seepage of surface melt water to the bottom of the ice sheet in the past. If there is now more surface lakes and surface water, and if the surface water back much farther inland than in the past then more liquid water is going to end up at the bottom of the ice sheet, which will not only provide more lubrication in places which had some lubrication before, but also lubricate parts of the glacier which are further inland.
Hence it is very likely that the glaciers will speed up, given the larger lubricated areas recently.

1. Ever look at the depths of a glacier valley after the glacier melts? The dips, crooked runs, cracks, crevasses between rocks, hooks, depths and rough surface (often 3 to 10 meters deep and 10 to 20 meters wide) mean NO WATER can be trapped under a glacier for any length of time nor under wide areas of the glacier surface to the valley: ANY nick or notch or dip or crack will let the water run out and escape to lower areas – where it will continue to leak downhill.
2. Now, many books DO use the lubrication theory – as if the glacier were a smooth shaft rotating in a bearing” But those bearing work ONLY because the oil is at high pressure (150 to 200 psig) and the shaft is rotating at very, very high surface speeds at extremely smooth surface. SO: Scale this up: A 4 km wide glacier, moving at 10 meters/hour, with a irregular surface of 2.5 meter x 4 meter holes and cracks and irregular bottom contour lubricated by free flowing water at 3 psig. Now, the bearing has 150 psig oil rotating at 3600 rpm with a 24 inch diameter bearing surface with a maximum of 0.0005 height difference.
Want to calculate how much the water is trapped underneath to lubricate the 100 meters of ice above?
3. Several people have pointed this out, and I thank them for their effort. It bears repeating though, even though tese so-called Greenland experts somehow forgot. The mountains AROUND the central Greenland ice cap are very, very high, but are only 25 to 50 km in from the east and west seacpasts. Thus, the ENTIRE center of the Greenland ice cap is “trapped” between two mountain ranges HIGHER than the ice on both sides. IF the ice on both sides were to melt and IF that ice were to “slide downhill” the ice moving west (downhill from the eastern mountains) would run into the ice moving east downhill from the western mountains. (Now, there are some simplifications to this, and we will get into to them if you wish.)
BUT! The ONLY part of the Greenland ice that can “run off” into the sea IF the lubrication theory were correct are the very, very small, very very short glaciers on both coasts. But NOT the entire ice cap in any form.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland_ice_sheet#mediaviewer/File:Cambios_en_la_capa_de_hielo_de_Groenlandia.jpg
Lubrication theory is used in several books -BUT even the example cited in those textbooks are for very, very limited number of mountain-side glaciers moving rapidly for ONLY a few hours or days ONLY for a very, very few kilometers. I can sprint faster than I can walk – but I cannot sprint for 4, 6, or 10 minutes. The glacier “lubricated runaways” are for a few examples of exception glacier for a few hours. Then the water is no longer trapped, and the water is released or (most often) refrozen underneath the rest of the ice.

Robtin
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 21, 2015 5:48 pm

This melt water lubricating glaciers idea leaves me with so many questions that I can’t find answers to, maybe you can help.
I understand that the bottom of a glacier is not smooth and nor is the ground over which it moves and therefore there must be many voids between glacier and earth which could fill with melt water and form a lake. How is the friction between the lake and the glacier less than the friction between the glacier and the void? If the bottom of the glacier is not in contact with the top of the lake, can the friction change? This water may freeze to the bottom of the glacier. If it does, would it not fill the void and increase the friction? This water will form a river running through the voids under the glacier to the sea. If the top of this river is not in contact with the glacier how will it change the friction? What percentage of glacier bottom is in contact with melt water lakes or rivers? How has this percentage changed over time? What is the temperature of the ice at the bottom of the glacier and what is the temp of the land immediately beneath the glacier? If this temp is above zero C what has warmed it, how has it changed over time and how is CO2 implicated ( especially under thousands of feet of ice)? What percentage of the bottom of the glacier needs to be in contact with melt water to measurably increase flow rate?
These are just some of the questions that I cannot even imagine answers to so please forgive me if they are too simple as I have no qualifications in climate studies. Perhaps these questions have been answered else where, if so I’ll look harder.

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  Robtin
January 21, 2015 7:53 pm

Perceptive, worthy questions. Thank you.

Bill
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 22, 2015 5:59 am

When the climate was warmer, the Vikings settled Greenland

george e. smith
Reply to  Climate Pete
January 22, 2015 4:52 pm

You seem to have missed a key point that the Greenland ice sheets are sitting in a tub, and even if they were floating on a lake, which they are not, they are not going down hill to anywhere. They would have to climb mountains under gravitation drive to get out of that basin.
So just when was Greenland ice free; well within recent memory of course. We really don’t care if it was only ice free before the rise of mammals.

January 21, 2015 2:20 pm

Oh, be advised. They had cows on Greenland a thousand years ago, and cow those cow farts started this whole tipping point thing.

Alx
January 21, 2015 2:25 pm

Even though researchers have long known of the existence of subglacial lakes, never before have they witnessed any refilling from the surface.

I guess since they never witnessed it, it must never have happened before. Kind of like a tree falling in the forest; “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

george e. smith
Reply to  Alx
January 22, 2015 10:39 am

“””””….. “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”…..”””””
How many times do we have to go through this ??
EM “Radiant Energy” in the 400-800 nm wavelength range makes LIGHT in your brain, and EM radiant energy in the 1.0 micron range makes WARMTH in your brain, and atmospheric acoustic waves in the 8- 20,000 Hertz range make SOUND in your brain.
And if you ain’t there; then nothing happens in your brain.
So no; if a tree falls in the forest, it does not make a sound; but it might launch acoustic waves.

Reply to  george e. smith
January 22, 2015 11:25 am

Sorry, what the tree does is “make a sound”; what my brain does is “hear a sound”. These are not the same thing, and what the brain is doing is not “making a sound out of a vibration”, it is detecting and processing that vibration. Your argument is probably good fodder for a philosophical discussion of a particular stimulus-response pairing, but it is purely philosophical, and I do not accept that particular philosophical characterization of the physical system being discussed; what is happening in the physical world of that tree has absolutely nothing to do with whether it is heard by a human. So in the real world, yes, the tree falling always makes a sound; the presence of humans makes detection and perception of that sound possible.

george e. smith
Reply to  george e. smith
January 22, 2015 5:01 pm

No my argument is the difference between the physical universe, and the “psychophysical universe” which is all in our sensory systems.
The giveaway is as always; the physical parameters, and the psycho-physical parameters are specified (scientifically) in completely different units. For example Electro-magnetic radiation is quantified in the usual units of physics that relate to forms of energy.
Light has nothing to do with energy so it is not measured in energy units but in the units of photometry, which are exactly specified scientifically in units which pertain ONLY to the human eye and its perception. Same goes for our ears, which process acoustic wave energy and convert it to SOUND in our brain.
That’s just my opinion of course. Nobody should rely on it for their PhD thesis.
And you are entitled to your opinion too.

pablo an ex pat
January 21, 2015 3:00 pm

This may have unintended tragic consequences ! There are reports people with pointy hats and long beards setting out in open boats from Scandinavia on the strength of this report. Oh wait….

Gamecock
Reply to  pablo an ex pat
January 21, 2015 3:37 pm

Indeed! How long until Greenland becomes . . . green . . . again!

David
January 21, 2015 3:08 pm

Puzzled by the references to latent heat. Surely this is only relevant if the meltwater refreezes at the bottom of the glacier and releases the latent heat of melting. In which case (assuming all the water refreezes) it is no longer much of a lubricant. They seem to be having their cake and eating it.

commieBob
Reply to  David
January 21, 2015 3:45 pm

Good point! It would seem as if any ice that melts as a result of the release of the latent heat would exactly match the ice that freezes in order to release that heat. In other words, the latent heat would not lead to an increase in the melt rate.
Thermodynamics is often counter-intuitive but I can’t see a problem with David’s logic. Anyone?

Rick K
Reply to  David
January 21, 2015 3:52 pm

Yes, it made a little more sense when “all roads led to Rome.”
But this “all physical phenomena lead to catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” is a tad overwrought if one has the eyes (and the brain) to see…

Reply to  David
January 21, 2015 6:56 pm

About the only way latent heat should be available for much of anything is if the surface water is above 0°C. Given the surface lakes have ice all along the bottom and sides, the only heating would be from sunlight (maybe shining on black carbon on the lake bottom) and from the air above, but only if the wet bulb temperature is above 0°C.
Then when the lake drains, I’m sure any above 0°C water cools down to 0°C well before it reaches the bottom. What’s the temperature of ice at the bedrock? I can’t find much on the web, and I’m sure few measurements have been made. With the general heat flux from the Earth, it ought to be close to 0°C, and certainly would be if the heat is causing melting. If the bedrock is below freezing, then some water would freeze, and that would release some latent heat. It would also plug all the water outflow paths.
I did find this comment on a blog at http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php?topic=848.90;wap2 :

folke_kelm:
to answer your questions, F. Tnioli,
1. ice core temperatures suggest bedrock temperatures around -10 to -13 degrees at some points
That ist important, because you only have some few points where the temperature is known. It is not very likely that the bedrock is colder, because ice is a very good thermal insulator. it is much more likely that temperature are around minus 2 to minus 5 degrees at many points because oft the heat flow inside the bedrock. (geothermal gradient)
2. No, as long as i know there are no continuous measurements of bedrock temperatures. This is not necessary either, because the temperature will not exceed a temperature around the melting point of water which is dependent of the overlying pressure and i guess this will be the bedrock temperature at many points. Melting at these point is only possible due to geothermal heat flow. Meltwater from above will certainly be in thermal equilibrium in this deep due to heat exchange under its way.
3. No, you cant measure it due to far too much ice overlaying the bedrock, but i guess that at most places there will not be much permafrost under the ice shield due to geothermal heat flow.
4. (which you did not ask) The entire ice cap can not just slide downhill, because Greenlands bedrock topography is like a salad bowl, very deep down in the middle (600 m under Sea level) and Mountains around it. Extraction of the ice is only possible through outlet glaciers like Peterman, Zachariae (see this forum) or others or surface melting. Water percolating down will not have above 0 temperatures but exact 0 degrees. It will eventually refreeze inside the ice shield, and warming it from inside, but not melting it. The important fact about this heat accumulation inside the ice shield is, that the viscosity of the ice is very strong dependent of the temperature. The warmer it is, the faster the glaciers are moving.

So, draining lakes supply water at 0°C or close to it to bedrock at 0°C or close to it. I doubt it can cause much melting. Tracing water flow from there to whereever it manages to escape central Greenland would be interesting. Water manages to do a good job flowing downhill, so I’d expect there would be little water pooled on nearly all of the bedrock – much like how little water pools on top of bedrock in nonglaciated hilly terrain.

Auto
Reply to  Ric Werme
January 22, 2015 11:39 am

Ric,
Thanks for the input.
Your block quote does have some caveats:
suggest
as long as I know
I guess
On that basis – your conclusions may be right [they look OK to me – a seafarer], but . . . .
Auto

January 21, 2015 3:45 pm

Greenland’s surface mass balance has increased each year as Jack referenced above from DMI. There has been a lot of hype about Greenland’s melting surface, but more snow falls each year than melts, so at the surface ice is accumulating. And that accumulation contradicts CO2 warming of air temperatures, so gaze is being re-focused elsewhere.
Greenland does exhibit periods of overall declining ice mass when glacier calving and basal melt exceed the surface accumulation. That process is governed more by natural ocean oscillations that re-distribute warm Atlantic water as discussed here http://landscapesandcycles.net/Will-Greenland-Begin-Accumulating-Ice-in-2015-and-Beyond-.html and here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaZb0r4G_Gc
Barring a sudden switch to a more positive North Atlantic Oscillation, Greenland will lose less ice due to calving over the next 2 decades, so that the observed surface accumulation will now dominate the overall mass balance, (no matter how much water flows to the base of the glaciers during the normal melt season). Anecdotally Antarctic researchers reported the lakes below the glaciers in the dry McMurdo Valley were at higher levels during the last Glacial Maximum, so this new report tells us precious little about Greenland’s future.

John F. Hultquist
January 21, 2015 4:22 pm

This is commonly taught in every Geography 100 class in the world. Good Grief!

F. Ross
January 21, 2015 4:41 pm

Just wondering… with all this melting going on why are WW II weather stations and crashed airplanes now under thirty or forty feet of ice?

Reply to  F. Ross
January 21, 2015 4:54 pm

Glacier Girl was buried beneath 260 feet of ice from 1942 to 1992 when it was brought to the surface:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacier_Girl

F. Ross
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
January 21, 2015 4:57 pm

I didn’t know any were buried that deep but knew it was a significant depth in several incidences. Thanks for the update.
[All of the WWII aircraft that landed next to Glacier Girl (there were many P-38’s and two bombers) in that flight) were at the same depth down in the snow. .mod]

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
January 21, 2015 6:27 pm

If 50 years deposits 260 feet of ice, Greenland’s ice should be a lot thicker than it is – so maybe the alternation of build-up and meltdown has kept its increasing depth at a rate lower than 5 feet per year.

u.k.(us)
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
January 21, 2015 6:45 pm

Imagine the ice as thick syrup, it flows slowly to the lowest point, over time.

Robtin
Reply to  F. Ross
January 21, 2015 8:34 pm

Place a block of ice in your freezer, place a stainless steel nut (nut and bolt) on top and wait. The answer will come to you.

Just an engineer
Reply to  Robtin
January 22, 2015 6:10 am

Place a penny next to the SS nut, and you will see the answer is wrong.

lee
January 21, 2015 5:10 pm

‘The direct link between the surface meltwater and the filling of a lake at the base of the ice has never been seen before.’
And therefore it didn’t happen.

Bohdan Burban
January 21, 2015 5:24 pm

This might be an opportune time for the climate boffins at Cornell to get in touch with the History boffins at Cornell, who may well be able to proffer an opinion as to why Greenland is called “green land” given the present ice cover.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Bohdan Burban
January 21, 2015 6:13 pm

Nah, lets just [get] some Scandinavians to do a Viking re-enactment. And pillage their campus
michael

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Mike the Morlock
January 21, 2015 6:14 pm

oops get some… must learn to spell..

Billy Liar
January 21, 2015 5:56 pm

These people need to learn about Grímsvötn:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%ADmsv%C3%B6tn
Jökulhlaup
Eruptions in the caldera regularly cause glacial outbursts known as jökulhlaup. Eruptions melt enough ice to fill the Grímsvötn caldera with water, and the pressure may be enough to suddenly lift the icecap, allowing huge quantities of water to escape rapidly … When a large eruption occurred in 1996, geologists knew well in advance that a glacial burst was imminent. It did not occur until several weeks after the eruption finished, but monitoring ensured that the Icelandic ring road (Hringvegur) was closed when the burst occurred. A section of road across the Skeiðará sandur was washed away in the ensuing flood, but no one was hurt.

We’re not talking about a trickle of water here – it was 3 km³ (3 gigatonnes) of water flowing at a maximum rate of 25,000 m³/sec under the glacier (Vatnajökull):
http://www.wdcgc.spri.cam.ac.uk/news/jokulhlaup/

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Billy Liar
January 21, 2015 6:31 pm

Speaking of misspellings, I think the article misspelled the co-author’s name?
“We can actually see the meltwater pour down into these holes and then watch these subglacial lakes drain out and fill up again in real time. With melting like that, even the deep interior of the ice sheet is going to change. If enough water is pouring down into the Greenland Ice Sheet for us to see the same subglacial lake empty and refill itself over and over, then there must be so much latent heat being released under the ice that we’d have to expect it to change the large-scale behavior of the ice sheet,” said study co-author Bevis
.
shouldn’t it be Beavis as in Beavis &……
michael

ECK
January 21, 2015 6:56 pm

What drivel. Another reason I don’t contribute even a dime any more to my Alma mater. And to think money was spent on this garbage? Sheesh!

Lava Lank
January 21, 2015 7:04 pm

… meanwhile, in Iceland, lava flowing at an average of 50-70 cubic metres a second (has been/will and do for some time) is melting surface/near-surface snow and ice. This is causing a ‘trickle’ of unnoticed water because it cant be blamed on carbon dioxide.
http://www.wired.com/2015/01/iceland-the-real-land-of-fire-and-ice-volcano/#more-1707835

Ric Haldane
January 21, 2015 7:04 pm

Perhaps Bill Nye and Al Gore could put together a lab demo to show the devastating effects these findings are having on the environment. They could use a heat lamp, acrylic blocks, and a bunch of tubes of KY. If they had any left over KY…. UH, never mind.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Ric Haldane
January 21, 2015 7:31 pm

Or a lava lamp a and a couple of bongs…

Mike Hebb
January 21, 2015 7:07 pm

It’s the “born yesterday syndrome”. You see it everywhere.

higley7
January 21, 2015 7:09 pm

“This meltwater provides heat to the bottom of the ice sheet.”
Uh, have they not considered that Earth’s interior is also fairly hot and contributes/delivers heat to the bottom of the ice sheet. As the melt water travels down passages of ice for a long distance, it can be assumed that the water is near freezing by the time it gets to the lake. The ice sheet than acts as a thermal blanket, shielding the water from above, maybe even freezing it during the winter, depending, of course, on the heat flux from Earth’s interior. Yawn. So, what are they claiming?

u.k.(us)
January 21, 2015 7:39 pm

Per:
http://www2.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Research-Review/Magazine/1997/story8.html
“What we see is that the outermost molecular film of ice solidifies only up to a point,” says Van Hove. “Large vibrational amplitudes continue to exist down to at least 90 K.”
==========
That might explain why skates have little friction, now I want someone to explain the metallic taste you get in your mouth when you take a bad fall and hit the back of your head.. hard.. on the ice.
I’ve only done it once (maybe twice), it tastes like copper (pennies).
Weird taste, and definitely an experience you look to avoid in the future.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  u.k.(us)
January 21, 2015 10:14 pm

Search with this string: metallic copper taste mouth concussion
Some folks think it is blood taste.

Joel O'Bryan
January 21, 2015 7:49 pm

What is the temperature of the ice at depth? What is the solid-ice sheet temperature gradient in the winter?
If it is substantially below freezing at depth, that newly added water will freeze in the winter.
Can heat conduction up through the ice sheet in the cold winter remove the water’s latent heat and allow it to freeze? I’m thinking it can and likely does. Water turning to ice then helps lock the ice sheet in place on the bedrock.

tty
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 22, 2015 2:32 am

Most of the Greenland ice-cap is warm-based, i. e. the basal temperature is over the pressure freezing point, and it always has been.

SteveS
January 21, 2015 8:04 pm

“there must be so much latent heat being released under the ice that we’d have to expect it to change the large-scale behavior of the ice sheet”
Ok… I expect no change…What do ya got in the way of science to say it should even be considered ……….Nuttin
What do I got to refute it…nuttin
Nice, back to square one, nothing learned, money wasted.
Does anybody wonder what the hell is going on in climate science…Can anybody just write a paper, get published , and say They “expect” something to happen. I expect a lot of things to happen, a lot of them don’t…some of them do..I “wonder” about these things so I call it “wondering”….others I guess call it science….These are bizarre times, truly.

January 21, 2015 8:19 pm

Correction: Missing ‘not’ in first sentence:
“From Cornell University and the Department of Inflated Headlines come this misleading claim that really should NOT be anything new, and certainly not “groundbreaking” as they claim in this press released.”
Obvious, I know.
/Mr Lynn

Catcracking
January 21, 2015 9:02 pm

“Between 2012 and 2014, Willis watched as summer meltwater on the surface of the ice made its way down cracks around the hole and refilled the empty lake basin at the base of the ice cap. When water was flowing on the surface, the subglacial lake filled. When water stopped flowing on the surface, the subglacial lake stopped refilling.”
Somehow I believe that the summer meltwater impact on the ice is much more complicated than the Authors claim. They previously mentioned that the ice thickness is 70 meters. With the technology they used, can they really know what is happening 70 meters below the surface as they describe it? Also It would seem to me that the water would refreeze as it traveled downward through 70 meters of ice well below 0 degrees Centigrade. When the water drains from the lake, does it leave a huge void under the ice mass and is the ice capable of bridging such a huge void without collapsing or causing subsidence at the surface?
If the sensing technology is relatively new or recently applied, how do we know this is a new happening?
One needs to be skeptical without a lot more information including the sensitivity and capability of the measurement procedure.
Finally It seems as though the global warming crowd have a plan to strategically release papers such as this on an interval to keep the hoax alive with the support of the media hyping the agenda. Your tax dollars at work.

January 21, 2015 9:08 pm

‘During his research, Willis spotted a 70-meter-deep hole (the equivalent of a 10-story building) …’
Was that really necessary?

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  Tom J
January 21, 2015 9:57 pm

TomJ
‘During his research, Willis spotted a 70-meter-deep hole (the equivalent of a 10-story building) …’
Was that really necessary?

No, but it illustrative of the CAGW publicity stunts often used, always permitted in this community without care or regard. And the basic lack of care for accuracy in favor of publicity by these “scientists” of the CAGW religion.
Consider a “normal” urban building of 10 feet per “story”.
A 10 story building = 100 feet (street to roof) = 30.48 meters.
A 70 meter hole = 230 foot hole = 23 story building.
Oops.

lee
Reply to  RACookPE1978
January 22, 2015 2:31 am

Tall storeys?

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  lee
January 22, 2015 10:07 am

lee
Tall storeys?

It does depend on both tradition and culture: Let’s face it: “as tall as a ten story building” and “as long as a city block” and “the size of Manhattan” are really only New York writers’ terms. Nobody in the real world uses them. And they certainly are not calibrated terms. Unless you live in Manhattan in a 10 story building on a city block defined by the mayor of New York on a map drawn in the early 19th century.
The “usual” architect’s story height is 10 feet – measured between floors with a “typical” 8 foot ceiling height and a WF steel beam joist (beam) for each floor. Now, upscale suburban houses are trending towards a 10 foot ceiling height, but that’s ONLY because of fossil fuels and the few glorious McMansions squeezed together so the realtors can sell $500,000.00 homes on a small lot. )Almost all residential houses are 8 foot ceiling and a 2×4 ceiling joist – but New York writer’s don’t think of “those” as building height “stories” either. Basements are 8 foot clear height with a 2×10 nominal beam and a 3/4 or 1 inch floor board. And, of course, almost all American/Canadian/Australian houses are only one or two stories anyway, with an angled roof that doesn’t count either. Few European stand-alone houses are built prior to the 60’s and 70’s – and not many after that in fact. “Typical” Euro ceilings are also 8 – 10 feet clear (or less), and the older ones always tend towards the shorter values of course.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
January 22, 2015 5:47 am

23 stories. Shows how good at simple arithmetic these guys are. I’m surprised they didn’t give an Empire State Building or Eiffel Tower equivalence.
Better yet, a Statue of Liberty equivalence.

Just an engineer
Reply to  RACookPE1978
January 22, 2015 6:16 am

Maybe ivory towers have higher ceilings to provide more headroom?

Dr. Strangelove
January 21, 2015 10:00 pm

Michael Willis
“Over the last few years the number of lakes on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet has greatly increased. Surface lakes are also occurring much farther inland at higher altitudes than in the past.”
That means subglacial lakes are rare. If they are common or increasing, surface lakes would be decreasing as melt water at surface drains to subglacial lakes.
“Subglacial lakes are rare in Greenland, and the presence of such a lake in the far northeast came as a surprise. The ice in this region is much too slow, too cold and too thin to allow melting beneath the ice cap, which is how a subglacial lake usually forms.”
That’s why you saw only one subglacial lake after all these years. It is rare. So why are you surprised? That’s why you see many surface lakes. Surface melt water isn’t draining to subglacial lakes.

John F. Hultquist
January 21, 2015 10:23 pm

A moulin or glacier mill is a roughly circular, vertical to nearly vertical well-like shaft within a glacier …
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moulin_(geology)
do an image search with glacier moulin

richardscourtney
January 21, 2015 10:47 pm

Friends
There is an important fact about ice being “lubricated” by water in addition to the excellent points made by several in this thread.
All water ice is coated with a liquid layer of water at all temperatures down to -40°C.
This property of water ice is why water ice is slippery, and this property is not new knowledge: it was first discovered and investigated by Michael Faraday.
So, the bottom of all glaciers is coated with a liquid layer of water because all glaciers are made of water ice. Hence, all glaciers are “lubricated” by water. The only way this lubrication could be increased is for liquid water to be forced beneath a glacier so as to raise the glacier above the contours of the surface beneath the glacier.
Richard

PacM2
January 22, 2015 1:38 am

sorry old story
this has been happening for 15-25 million years
Antarctica’s almost 400 known subglacial lakes. Lake Vostok is located at the southern Pole of Cold,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Vostok

tty
January 22, 2015 2:30 am

If you visit an area that was covered by ice during the last ice age you will quite often find long (up to several hundred kilometers) ridges of sand and gravel. These are called “eskers” and were created by subglacial rivers. This was figured out already by 19th century geologists but is apparently unknown to these Cornell innocents. Don’t “climate scientists” ever read anything but IPCC reports?

tty
January 22, 2015 3:11 am

Anyone thinking that this is something new is recommended to read A E Nordenskiöld’s description of his experiences during the first scientific expedition ever to actually penetrate the Greenland icecap in 1870 (near the end of the Little Ice Age):
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24365/24365-h/24365-h.htm#CHAPTER_IV
Then as now Nordenskiöld found the extensive melting of the ice-cap made it very difficult to travel over in the summer. The melt area with superglacial rivers and lakes extended to an altitude of c. 1500 meters (5000 feet). Here is a map showing these rivers and lakes from a later expedition to the same area in 1883:
http://runeberg.org/polexp1883/0233.html
http://runeberg.org/polexp1883/0234.html
(two halves)
Unfortunately this much more detailed description of conditions on the inland ice in 1883 has never been translated from Swedish, but here are some interesting pictures showing melt phenomena on the Greenland Icecap back at the end of the “Little Ice Age”
http://runeberg.org/polexp1883/0166.html
http://runeberg.org/polexp1883/0167.html
And here is an image illustrating the melting effect of “kryokonit”, i. e. dark mineral dust (nowadays popularily known as “black carbon”) found on the icecap, then as now:
http://runeberg.org/polexp1883/0244.html

A reader
January 22, 2015 8:04 am

Interesting image of Greenland’s bedrock topography, in reference to above discussion of topography:comment image

masInt branch 4 C3I in is
January 22, 2015 8:05 am

Penn State and Cornell are Beavis and Butthead of the week. They think Davos is a IPCC Jamboree. So they rush out stupid press releases. Ha ha.

KNR
January 22, 2015 8:25 am

Grant farming at its ‘best ‘

RWturner
January 22, 2015 9:03 am

Ah yes the same university that is fabricating science claiming that there is high correlation between earthquakes in Oklahoma and disposal wells. There IS a high correlation, if you ignore hundreds of the disposal wells that haven’t had earthquakes near them. Ivy League should stick to the pseudo sciences, like political science.

John Kesich
Reply to  RWturner
January 24, 2015 5:28 am

I look forward to your paper laying out the evidence that there is no correlation.

Ian L. McQueen
January 22, 2015 10:01 am

I found two references to “latent heat” in the article:
*****
As the lake refills, the surface meltwater carries stored heat, called latent heat, along with it from the relatively warm atmosphere to the icy depths. This latent heat reduces the stiffness of the surrounding ice and makes the ice more likely to flow out to sea.
If enough water is pouring down into the Greenland Ice Sheet for us to see the same subglacial lake empty and refill itself over and over, then there must be so much latent heat being released under the ice that we’d have to expect it to change the large-scale behavior of the ice sheet,” said study co-author Bevis.
*****
If these whizzes don’t know the difference between latent heat and sensible heat, something that I learned about in high school, how much can we depend on any of their other conclusions?
Ian M

January 22, 2015 12:56 pm

One set of Warmists is telling us that seasonal melt water flows down through ice sheets.
Another set of Warmists solemnly tells us how accurate ice core samples are. Yea right.

John Kesich
Reply to  Charles Nelson
January 24, 2015 5:22 am

Interesting logic.
Scientists tell us the Grand Canyon was eroded by water. Yet the very same scientists read the geologic record from the exposed rock strata. Yea right.
How many ice cores include evidence of refrozen waterfall filled crevasses?

Jaakko Kateenkorva
January 22, 2015 1:42 pm

So, what does this make out of ice core proxies? For example, the 280 ppm CO2 normal sooo long ago. Too funny.

January 22, 2015 1:53 pm

Would alarmists find inner peace even by Greenland lakes freezing solid all the way to the ground?

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
January 28, 2015 12:43 pm

They will never find inner peace. They are society’s misfits, who always look at the “carbon” rise as disastrous. But it isn’t.
The rise in CO2 is harmless, and it has brought about greatly increased agriclutural productivity. Real world evidence supports both those facts.
So skeptics are arguing with crazy misfits hwo select their ‘science’ based on confirmation bias: if a fact helps their doom-and-gloom beliefs, they repeat it. But if it shows that the rise in CO2 is completely harmless, and beneficial to the biosphere, they either ignore those facts or they argue emotionally.

January 22, 2015 5:18 pm

Reblogged this on Norah4you's Weblog and commented:
The Alarmist never taken time to study GUS – the Garden Under Sandet – the farm under sand….. if they had, they wouldn’t have tried the ice melt hype at all. They had known from beginning that Empiric data show their so called thesis as wrong as can be – disapproven by facts…. 🙂
”Most of the Viking expansion took place during what scientist refer to as the dimatic optimum of the Medieval Warm Period dated ca, A.D. 800 to 1200 (Jones 1986: McGovern 1991); a general term for warm periods that reached chere optimum at different times across the North Atlantic (Groves and Switsur 1991). During this time the niean annual temperature for southem Greenland was 1 to 3°C higher than today.” Julie Megan Ross, Paleoethnobotanical Investigation of Garden Under Sandet, a Waterlogged Norse Farm Site. Western Settlement. Greenland (Kaiaallit Nunaata), University of Alberta, Department of Anthropology Edmonton. Alberta Fa11 1997, sid 40
My own comments in one of the articles where the quote above is made:
One of the most common pollens found during the excavation of the Garden of Sandet was Cyperaceae, if you read Linnaeus, the virutal Flora on net, Cyperaceae isn’t supposed to have existed at all in such environment. But then neither Bilberry, Sapsella bursa pastorais nor crowberry should have been able to make it. Then birch and willow not mentioned…those trees were common in Greenland during the earliest settling years and also during the later. In between it was even warmer….
—- from Äntligen efter 671 år blir det, Norah4you 1 december 2012

Ian L. McQueen
January 22, 2015 5:24 pm

Our CBC favored this story, of course, with several minutes on the 90-minute programe “As It Happens”. If you wish to hear their fawning coverage, go to:
http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2015/01/22/sub-glacial-lakes-suddenly-drain-away/
Ian M

masInt branch 4 C3I in is
January 22, 2015 9:01 pm

Well. The images offered in the “Press Release” are ‘supra glacial’ lakes, i.e. melt water lakes that form on the surface of the ice sheet, i.e. a 3500 + meter elevation mountain of a continent.
Of course January 22 IS boreal winter! NO MELTING and DAMN LITTLE SUBLIMATION.
Yet the intrepid “researchers” .. Brain Dead Zombies I Posit … perhaps “Arts and Science Majors” cannot distinguish Boreal from Austral !
Yes, the Earth is Enjoying Austral Summer and in-addition Boreal Winter !
The Greenland Ice-sheet is in WINTER. Antarctic is in SUMMER !
Perhaps one day in the far flung future 1000s of years from now, THE Press will perhaps have the brain power and capability, gut-instinct, twitches-in-the-night, devils-on-the-shoulders to figure out that Earth has Austral and Boreal Seasons !
Lord help us and please, drop the M88 Nukes upon us please ! F U Society of “Concerned” Scientists. Your little clock is worthless ! [trimmed…..]

John Kesich
January 23, 2015 6:46 pm

Citation, please.
“The tops of glaciers have been melting in the summer and making runoff meltwater which finds its way to the bottom of glaciers through natural crevices for millions of years.”
If so, there should be one or more prior references to the phenomena, no? Who first described it and when?

Alan Robertson
Reply to  John Kesich
January 24, 2015 6:23 am

Do you have any citations which disagree with the assertion about melt water finding it’s way to the bottom of the glaciers?

kimberlina
January 24, 2015 6:00 am

What’s knew? There is nothing unprecedented about this. So yeah … it’s hype to justify the funding received for the ‘study’!

warrenlb
January 28, 2015 12:14 pm

Its amazing how little University scientists know, and how insightful random non-scientists are. Makes you wonder why we bother educating PhD scientists at all. They just keep finding things out that upset us –like solid state physics, DNA, Evolution, Plate Tectonics, and now AGW! Makes your head hurt — if only we could keep believing what we’ve always known. Why, we wouldn’t have to face the future at all!

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