Study finds surprisingly high geothermal heating beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet

From the “it still doesn’t matter, your SUV is melting the continent” and the 0.3 watts/sq meter it contributes isn’t ANYTHING close to the “about two-tenths of a Watt per square meter ” forcing measured from CO2 department. Just ignore the big red dot first mapped in 2012..

WAIS_warming-map

Researchers at Ohio State University and their colleagues have discovered that the central region of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is experiencing twice as much warming as previously thought. Their analysis of the temperature record from Byrd Station (indicated by a star) sheds some light on temperature changes over a broad portion of the WAIS. This site provides the only long-term temperature observations in the region, far away from the permanent research stations with long-term temperature records (indicated by black circles) that are scattered around the continent — making a case, the researchers say, for a more robust network of meteorological observations on the WAIS. On this map, the color intensity indicates areas around Antarctica that are likely experiencing comparable warming to Byrd Station. Credit: Image by Julien Nicolas, courtesy of Ohio State University.

UC Santa Cruz team reports first direct measurement of heat flow from deep within the Earth to the bottom of the West Antarctic ice sheet

University of California – Santa Cruz

The amount of heat flowing toward the base of the West Antarctic ice sheet from geothermal sources deep within the Earth is surprisingly high, according to a new study led by UC Santa Cruz researchers. The results, published July 10 in Science Advances, provide important data for researchers trying to predict the fate of the ice sheet, which has experienced rapid melting over the past decade.

Lead author Andrew Fisher, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, emphasized that the geothermal heating reported in this study does not explain the alarming loss of ice from West Antarctica that has been documented by other researchers. “The ice sheet developed and evolved with the geothermal heat flux coming up from below–it’s part of the system. But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” he said.

High heat flow below the West Antarctic ice sheet may also help explain the presence of lakes beneath it and why parts of the ice sheet flow rapidly as ice streams. Water at the base of the ice streams is thought to provide the lubrication that speeds their motion, carrying large volumes of ice out onto the floating ice shelves at the edges of the ice sheet. Fisher noted that the geothermal measurement was from only one location, and heat flux is likely to vary from place to place beneath the ice sheet.

“This is the first geothermal heat flux measurement made below the West Antarctic ice sheet, so we don’t know how localized these warm geothermal conditions might be. This is a region where there is volcanic activity, so this measurement may be due to a local heat source in the crust,” Fisher said.

The study was part of a large Antarctic drilling project funded by the National Science Foundation called WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling), for which UC Santa Cruz is one of three lead institutions. The research team used a special thermal probe, designed and built at UC Santa Cruz, to measure temperatures in sediments below Subglacial Lake Whillans, which lies beneath half a mile of ice. After boring through the ice sheet with a special hot-water drill, researchers lowered the probe through the borehole until it buried itself in the sediments below the subglacial lake. The probe measured temperatures at different depths in the sediments, revealing a rate of change in temperature with depth about five times higher than that typically found on continents. The results indicate a relatively rapid flow of heat towards the bottom of the ice sheet.

This geothermal heating contributes to melting of basal ice, which supplies water to a network of subglacial lakes and wetlands that scientists have discovered underlies a large region of the ice sheet. In a separate study published last year in Nature, the WISSARD microbiology team reported an abundant and diverse microbial ecosystem in the same lake. Warm geothermal conditions may help to make subglacial habitats more supportive of microbial life, and could also drive fluid flow that delivers heat, carbon, and nutrients to these communities.

According to coauthor Slawek Tulaczyk, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz and one of the WISSARD project leaders, the geothermal heat flux is an important value for the computer models scientists are using to understand why and how quickly the West Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking.

“It is important that we get this number right if we are going to make accurate predictions of how the West Antarctic ice sheet will behave in the future, how much it is melting, how quickly ice streams flow, and what the impact might be on sea level rise,” Tulaczyk said. “I waited for many years to see a directly measured value of geothermal flux from beneath this ice sheet.”

Antarctica’s huge ice sheets are fed by snow falling in the interior of the continent. The ice gradually flows out toward the edges. The West Antarctic ice sheet is considered less stable than the larger East Antarctic ice sheet because much of it rests on land that is below sea level, and the ice shelves at its outer edges are floating on the sea. Recent studies by other research teams have found that the ice shelves are melting due to warm ocean currents now circulating under the ice, and the rate at which the ice shelves are shrinking is accelerating. These findings have heightened concerns about the overall stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

The geothermal heat flux measured in the new study was about 285 milliwatts per square meter, which is like the heat from one small LED Christmas-tree light per square meter, Fisher said. The researchers also measured the upward heat flux through the ice sheet (about 105 milliwatts per square meter) using an instrument developed by coauthor Scott Tyler at the University of Nevada, Reno. That instrument was left behind in the WISSARD borehole as it refroze, and the measurements, based on laser light scattering in a fiber-optic cable, were taken a year later. Combining the measurements both below and within the ice enabled calculation of the rate at which melt water is produced at the base of the ice sheet at the drill site, yielding a rate of about half an inch per year.

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154 thoughts on “Study finds surprisingly high geothermal heating beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet

  1. “Study finds surprisingly high geothermal heating beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet”

    Is that the same antarctic where the ice is at near record levels in spite of geothermal heating?

    • Decreasing Glacier ice on land is not the same as increasing sea ice. The paper seems to be saying there has always been this heat source but adding agw to it has made it worse than it otherwise would have been.

      Whether the heat source might vary over time is crucial. Volcano activity seems to go in phases, for instance both Mann and miller reckon increased volcanic activity in the 13 th century, with the resultant sun obscuring emissionsm precipitated the ice age.

      So whether this heat source varies appreciably or not and could be a cause of melting ice, if in its active phase , would seem worthy of research

      Tonyb

      • Aye, there’s the rub. The paper apparently assumes that it varies from place to place, but is absolutely rock steady, otherwise. What nonsense!

        “The ice sheet developed and evolved with the geothermal heat flux coming up from below–it’s part of the system. But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” he said.

        Must append the shibboleth to every paper. Disgusting, innit?

      • So the cycles of activity of the Sun, planetry orbits etc. had nothing to do with the LIA then?

      • Assuming constancy of a volcano. I could have pointed that as a bad assumption after doing a project on Mount St Helens in third grade. How could someone who definitely should know better possibly make that assumption?

      • “The ice sheet developed and evolved with the geothermal heat flux coming up from below–it’s part of the system. But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” he said.

        “When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” = more money, please

    • “””””…..The geothermal heat flux measured in the new study was about 285 milliwatts per square meter, which is like the heat from one small LED Christmas-tree light per square meter, Fisher said. …..”””””

      Time to buy some better quality Christmas tree lights Professor Fisher.

      The very first LED Christmas tree lights that I ever made about 49 years ago didn’t generate anything like 285 milliwatt of heat, and they were rather inefficient so most of the electric energy that was supplied to them was converted to heat.

      The input was 20 mA at 1.6 V forward voltage, so 32 mW power input; about one ninth of Prof Fisher’s LEDs.

      Well they were the old vanilla red 650nm GaAsP 60/40 opaque (GaAs) substrate LEDs.

      And some modern LEDs are over 50% external quantum efficiency, so now only half of the power input would appear as waste heat.

      It’s kind of spooky actually seeing all that luminous flux coming from an LED and not getting the expected amount of heat.

      285 mW of heat is more in tune with what one might get form a half watt power LED as used in LED illumination products. Hardly Christmas tree lights.

      But then it is fashionable to exaggerate the heating when discussing climate issues.

      • I was about to call BS on the Christmas tree lights but you did it for me! Modern LEDs do well on about 10mA at 1.9V (red and orange) for 19mW – one fifteenth of the Prof’s LEDs.

        These people set themselves up for a fall. Why did he not just say that the heat flux is 3-4 times the amount that is thought, on average, to percolate through the ocean floor from earth’s core?

        See Table 2:

        http://www.mantleplumes.org/WebDocuments/Hofmeister2005.pdf

      • I just installed some of the new “florescent type” led lights in a pump house. While I was worried about the flicker leds have (making false no runs on rotating equipment” they appear to not have the strobe effect. The light is really bright which is probably due to the number of leds used. They do have heat but not much. We have a third in our store room so I may dissassemble it to see what type of controller it has. My best idea is to use it on my plants to see what they do…

  2. This just in; climate scientists “discover” new, natural climate driver. Not to worry, though; CO2 is still in control Film at 11.

    • AP said, ‘ So the cycles of activity of the’Sun……. had nothing to do with the LIA’. Sadly, that’s what many of the so-called experts think., including our resident expert on this forum. This is the same Sun whose solar wind affects Jupiter’s huge mag, field, causing it to shrink by 1/3 of its maximum size when the solar wind is at its strongest. Of course it couldn’t have an effect on our climate, could it??, Jesus!

  3. “…the 0.3 watts/sq meter it (SUV’s) contributes isn’t ANYTHING close to the 1about two-tenths of a Watt per square meter 1 ”

    0.3 nowhere near 0.2 ?

      • I had always thought that all-caps meant shouting. Now knowing that it can also mean sarcasm, I would have also included the word “close” in all-caps since closeness is what we’re being sarcastic about.

      • For some folks, me included, caps means emfarsis; not shouting. I don’t shout.

        Others may have italics or bolding, or underline, maybe even Greek, for emfarsis.

        My keyboard only has caps.

        Not my fault.

        Besides, I don’t titter / winkle anyhow, so I don’t speak that langwidge. I use caps, when helpful.

        g

      • Judging by the insanity coming from the global warming crowd these days I would say it could be the “New Meth.”

    • “The three-tenths of a watt per square meter it (SUV’s) contributes isn’t ANYTHING close to the about two-tenths of a Watt per square meter” – I missed that the first time too… interesting how the change from numerals to words ruins what the author is trying to say…

    • 0.3 is 150% of 0.2, so, yes, nowhere near. Remind me not to let you near my investments please.

  4. Mmmm … I found this statement quite curious:

    After boring through the ice sheet with a special hot-water drill, researchers lowered the probe through the borehole until it buried itself in the sediments below the subglacial lake. The probe measured temperatures at different depths in the sediments, revealing a rate of change in temperature with depth about five times higher than that typically found on continents.

    Since the area they are studying is overlain by hundreds of meters of ice, and since the heat flow is a function of ∆T, wouldn’t we EXPECT to find both a higher rate of heat flow under the ice, and a higher rate of change of temperature with depth, than “that typically found on continents”? And isn’t that exactly what they found?

    Comments appreciated …

    w.

    • Another inarticulate sentence in the press realse is:

      The results indicate a relatively rapid flow of heat towards the bottom of the ice sheet.

      Should be: The results indicate a relatively rapid flow of heat near (or “at”) the bottom of the ice sheet.

    • My guess is the heat flow would be fairly consistent through out the year at Byrd, as the water temperatures overlaying the sediment probably doesn’t change much. Heat flow found in “continents” have to vary quite a bit over the year near the surface, so what are you comparing it to?

      Looking at Minneapolis, in the dead of winter the ground is generally frozen down a ways, but in the summer the surface can reach 90F. In the tropics, ground temps are pretty constant over the year.

      • Throughout the year, possibly, but from year to year it can change as the magma in the chamber moves about.

    • Willis, the high heat could be caused by anoxic bacteria which use processes such as sulphate reduction etc to produce energy. These are often exothermic reactions. Many of the ice covered lakes have tepid highly saline waters, some with temperatures as high as 25 degrees centigrade. Thick bacteria slimes occur within layers in the basal waters of many Antarctic ice lakes.

      • Lake vanda is a good example of an Antarctic lake with warm water. Harold Wellman, a well known NZ geologist legend discovered plus 25 degrees centigrade waters in the bottom water at lake vanda in the 1950s. He lowered a thermometer through boreholes in the ice and found the rope coming up covered with bacteria slimes. There was a famous debate at the time over the cause of the warm, very salty water. Wellman considered it was due to heating of sunlight focussed by the covering ice. Others thought it geothermal although none of the chemistry or signs of geothermal fluid were present. I believe, the temperatures were from exothermic reactions by various bacteria in a closed water, ice-insulated lake.

      • I’d be interested to know if the sediment beneath the lake contained bacteria (the study showed that the lake waters certainly did and in very high levels) and perhaps also the mineral grieigite, a sulphide produced by anoxic activity by some microbes. The sediment would contain the heat better than water and not be dissipated by currents etc.
        Note also that the pressure of overlying ice is very high and this will alter ice melt temperatures. Lake Vostok, near the centre of the continent is covered by several kilometres of ice and this huge body of ice covered water has a high ‘geothermal’ gradient. I suspect this is also caused by microbial activity, perhaps evolving over the millions of years since Vostok formed.

    • A finding of no great significance?

      One thing about using common sense and plain speaking, the CAGW alarmists seem to display less common sense and more difficulty with words the deeper their need to deny nature in support of their beliefs and desired findings.

    • Now you’re just getting pedantic Willis. and clearly that Temperature gradient also makes brighter LEDs for Christmas trees.

      g

      • Now you’re just getting pedantic Willis. and clearly that Temperature gradient also makes brighter LEDs for Christmas trees.
        Isn’t it the CO2 that causes the increased heat from LEDs?

    • Probably the thing to do Willis is see if anyone ever used a similar technique on any continental land to measure the heat flow through the ground, underground. Maybe its commonly done, I don’t know.

    • The same would apply to the bottom of the ocean. Surely that detail didn’t pass by whoever was determining geothermal heating rates for the planet. Surely.

      • Just about anywhere in the world you can keep your house at a nice temperature by drilling a bore hole to the right depth, and inserting a return system with a heat exchanger in the bottom of the bore hole. That is real green A/Con.

    • Yes. I would think that only a higher temperature than is typical in the rock beneath the ice would indicate geothermal heating. They would have to drill deep enough to reduce the effects of cooling from the ice sheet to detect such a heating. Either that or model the situation well enough to determine that a particular depth of ground is cold, but not as cold as it should be considering it is under an ice sheet.

    • Willis, you’re exactly right. Should be expected. Not sure if the quoted text indicates surprise or not.

  5. Love the scary red colors in big red blob under a maissive ice sheet that simply indicate a correlation.

    Q: Why not invert the colors? Why not use contours like a topo map for elevations?

    A: Because a scary big red blob “looks scarier.”

    • The chart is from a different paper with a different purpose, and it works from surface measurements, not the bottom of the ice sheet. Truthfully, it isn’t even appropriate for the paper it’s attached to, merely showing how much Byrd temps are like surrounding temps, not whether they are warming or not.

      A swing and a miss this time.

  6. The geothermal heat flux measured in the new study was about 285 milliwatts per square meter, which is like the heat from one small LED Christmas-tree light per square meter, Fisher said. The researchers also measured the upward heat flux through the ice sheet (about 105 milliwatts per square meter)
    ==============
    where is the missing heat going? (285-105) = missing – conversion of ice to water?

  7. “But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” he said.”

    CAGW is just like mono-sodium glutamate.
    Simply add it to everything you serve-up. Not only will it be tastier, but it will have a distinct upward effect on your public purse income….

    • I have a box of 50 Christmas LEDs that says 4 watts for the string. That’s 80 mW.

  8. I don’t understand…. if the ice is melting how is it accumulating? I get that the wind pattern has shifted the ice and created an ice extent anomaly but nowhere have I seen anything but increased ice volume for the Antarctic.

    • Lead author Andrew Fisher, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, emphasized that the geothermal heating reported in this study does not explain the alarming loss of ice from West Antarctica that has been documented by other researchers.

      Except where is isn’t.

      From 2004 Climate Variability in West Antarctica Derived from Annual Accumulation-Rate Records from ITASE Firn/Ice Cores

      The ice cores from this study were analyzed to look for recent changes in accumulation rates. The period 1970–present was chosen due to numerous previous studies reporting changes in accumulation during this same time period. Mean accumulation since 1970 for each site was compared to the long-term mean and, due to the different time period covered by each record, the mean from 1922 to 1991 (the period of overlap between records) (Table 2). Results for cores 01-5 and 99-1 are disregarded because of the possible need for topographic corrections (see previous section). The results indicate a slight decrease (1–4%) in accumulation at sites 00-4, RIDS C and Siple Dome, and a larger decrease (9%) at site 00-5. Accumulation increased (5–10%) at sites 01-3, 01-2 and 00-1. The geographical clustering of these sites suggests that there has been an increase in accumulation since 1970 in the western sector of the Pine Island–Thwaites drainage system (00-1, 01-2, 01-3) (Fig. 2; Table 2).

      http://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1127&context=ers_facpub

      So they compare average accumulation 1922 to 1991 against 1970 to present. It would take a 100% decrease before any ‘Alarming loss’ is seen. So far only one core is 9% less than average and the whole group shows growth not melting.

      • Thanks but the way I read that is as a decrease of up to 9% at two sites and an increase of up to 10% at three which sounds pretty much a wash. Is that right? I would expect that “accumulation” is kind of a tricky issue over time with the sort of winds shrieking across the ice field from time to time.

    • Sea ice is increasing. Glacial land ice is not, or within reasonable error bars, not known.

    • Please don’t look too closely at their work, as your liable to just find something wrong with it.

  9. The WAIS is not unstable there. Most of the colored region is the Amundsen embayment and Ross catchment basins. The ANDRILL program showed Ross is stable. True, Pine Island glacier in the Amundsen Embayment may have seen some recent acceleration and ice loss, and geothermal may be the explanation. But the same paper from Rignot at JPL last year showed the interior of the entire Amundsen catchment is stable to gaining ice. Essay Tipping Points.
    All this paper does is explain why the lakes beneath the ice cap exist. But since they exist, that water is not flowing to lubricate the Slide of WAIS off Antarctica. WAIS is anchored by the Executive Committee and Ellsworth mountain ranges. Even grounded Ross is anchored by mountain ‘islands’ projecting up from the seafloor.

    • Even South Florida is doomed to ocean rise flooding by 2050 or 2100 or sometime else, because Mr Obama said so on Earth Day. How much more authority must I appeal too?

      And if you dont believe he’ll have John Holdren get pseudo-Science Mag to publish another buddy review paper to further prove it.with more incontrovertible model results and adjusted data.

  10. Of course any new melting has to be due to CO2, because as everybody knows, geothermal heat never increases or decreases.

  11. But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly.

    Let’s do the math: geothermal heat + zero = geothermal heat.

    Why do they always have to throw global warming into the mix without providing support for their claim? What evidence is there for global warming in the south polar region? Is the ice not expanding? Are surface temperatures getting warmer there? The only evidence of warming is under the West Antarctic ice sheet where geothermal activity happens to be going on. If ice is melting where geothermal activity is going on and is not melting anywhere else, guess what is causing it. Hint: It’s not global, so it can’t be due to ‘global’ warming.

    • Exactly !!! This study showed warming from below; in addition, the Robert Doyle link (above) defined an undersea volcano, These two items are ‘observable data’. But, there is zero observable data to link to any CO2 Global Warming.

      • ‘Why do they always have to throw global warming into the mix ‘
        want to keep your membership of the club , grant cash flowing in and invites to jambroies such has Paris , then you make sure your work includes pledges of allegiance to ‘the cause ‘ happy that you never have to actual back up your claims because it is ‘settled science’

        right now one way is good news for your future and another is bad news , and the one that is good news is not a ‘good way to do science ‘

    • If temperatures rise from -65 degrees F to -62 degrees F this has zero effect on melting. This is why the warming scare is so annoying. Slight changes in temperature at our poles isn’t melting much of anything. This is also why we must watch Hudson Bay: the ground zero for all Ice Ages lies there. If the Bay doesn’t melt in summer, this is a warning sign and this year it is high summer and half of the huge Hudson Bay surface is still covered in ice.

  12. That color scheme is just used to scare people.!!!

    I like this

    “Fisher noted that the geothermal measurement was from only one location, and heat flux is likely to vary from place to place beneath the ice sheet.”

    Imagine a temperature series done with one location
    or SST done with one measurement.

    where’s the uncertainty analysis…

    funny

    • Whats funny? People went to the Antarctic one of the harshest land environments on the planet. They did some exploration, made some discoveries, gathered some samples, and finally recorded some data for the rest of the world to examine. Myself I think they did a good days work. I may not agree with some of their conclusions in regards to agw but what the hay, they’re increasing the boundaries of human knowledge.
      So what have you been up to lately?
      Michael

    • Sounds like standard temp measurement and analysis, doesn’t it? Read a thermometer at the airport and apply that temp to the surrounding 500 square miles of bare countryside.
      What’s that about grid cell interpolation?

      • 500 sq miles???? Ha! That is of course a circle of 12.62 miles radius. 125,000 sq miles might be more like it for most of the non devloped world.

  13. In a separate study published last year in Nature, the WISSARD microbiology team reported an abundant and diverse microbial ecosystem in the same lake. Warm geothermal conditions may help to make subglacial habitats more supportive of microbial life, and could also drive fluid flow that delivers heat, carbon, and nutrients to these communities.

    People Ecosystems don’t, they take time and some stability to form? Has this ecosystem been ongoing for some time? Is it an Antarctic Yellowstone? This could get interesting
    .
    michael

    • Mike, there is no oxygen in these waters. The microbes are anoxic and produce energy (and heat) via various, often exothermic reactions. These organisms do not necessarily thrive in warmer water. Actually, the heat generated by anoxic microbes could cause the warming rather than the warming causing the microbial activity.
      I’d be hesitant to label it geothermal. Often geothermal waters have distinct geochemical signatures and proximity to active volcanoes.

      • For an example of heat produced by microbes you should consider the heat generated in a compost heap or bales of damp hay which have been known to start fires. The exothermic heat generated by microbes should not be underestimated.

      • Hello exothermic lank
        Okay I’ll buy that. Its the “abundant and diverse” statement they make that has me scratching my head.
        Next do/did they have all the necessary skill sets to deal with what they came across? Seems they are generating more question then answers. Sometimes that is the way it goes. Its going to keep people busy I think.
        michael

      • Well lets see. 500,000,000 years or so ago, Antartica was a plate jammed into Gondwanaland IIRC. In the previous several billion years it undoubtedly had lakes and such. It also certainly accumulated salt basins, much like the Great Basin of Utah, from evaporative cycles because it was a basin. Much like the hundreds of meters thick salt formations found by the many thousands throughout the world, oil and gas explorers love to see whats under the salt that sits under an ocean (frozen fresh water in this case). Many salt domes cap methane deposits. Maybe they are methanogens eating a steady diet of CH4 making heat and that magical molecule CO2 as products? Those Evil microbes need to be taxed.

  14. “Combining the measurements both below and within the ice enabled calculation of the rate at which melt water is produced at the base of the ice sheet at the drill site, yielding a rate of about half an inch per year.”
    Half an inch a year melt say 1cm +or- and the ice sheet is about 3000M +or – thick. 3000 x100 =300,000 years to melt when it appears from other research that the ice is expanding across the continent. Next problem please. On another angle volcanism (usually point source) comes and goes, measure it in a years time and it may have disappeared as I can see by example observation out my window at White Island our most active volcano in NZ. The temperature on the crater lake goes up and down nothing scary just nature at work as usual and in the WAIS case totally protected from the CO2 from my SUV. When they have measured the heat change across the entire WAIS we might have a data base to get interested in.
    Interesting technology used to get the measurements however.

    • Coastal west Antarctica has the second highest accumulation rate of ~ 1000mm year…. no one would notice a 1/2 inch missing from the bottom

    • Kevin, the high pressures at these depths should also be taken into account when considering melt rates.
      If there was a White Island sized volcano near lake whillans you’d think they would have had found some seismic or geochemical evidence of it.

  15. “Combining the measurements both below and within the ice enabled calculation of the rate at which melt water is produced at the base of the ice sheet at the drill site, yielding a rate of about half an inch per year.”

    a rate of about half an inch per year – wow! Definitely worse than we thought! ;)

    How many half inches per year accumulate on top of the ice or at the extent of it?

  16. This is my favorite quote –

    . “The ice sheet developed and evolved with the geothermal heat flux coming up from below–it’s part of the system. But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” he said.

    Now, exactly how OLD is this guy to KNOW that the geothermal heat has always been there and not something that may have started, say, last century? What is the “proxy” that tells when magma moves nearer the surface? It is these cavalier comments that makes smoke come out of my ears. There may be a “proxy” that SUGGESTS since its based on “best guess” to start with, but there is nothing but being there would produce “I know for sure.”

    • In Yellowstone they have measured significant changes in heat flow from the magma chamber from year to year.

  17. If this is the first measurement of this heat source under the WAIS, how can they conclude that it is stable and therefore say that “global warming” is exacerbating it? Isn’t this a data point of one? How do they know that it isn’t the geothermal source that has been changing?

    Just a layman, askin’ questions.

  18. Nothing unusual for station(s) built upon the Southern extent of the ‘Ring of Fire’.

    Oh! we couldn’t possibly be upon a pinnacle of geothermal heat also known as a volcano. The sheer amount of brains used in the CO2 gambit is just amazing.

    One hot water borehole, one deep sensor, one shallow sensor.

    Why isn’t there interest in multiple boreholes and permanent sensor arrays? How about a seismic center?

    • “Why isn’t there interest in multiple boreholes and permanent sensor arrays? How about a seismic center?”

      A journey of a million miles begins with one step. They made the first step. Good on them.

      The wise thing, though, is to avoid announcing (especially to the kids in the back seat) “We’re there!” after that single step.

      (Okay, I mixed some metaphors, but whatever.)

      • I’ve always liked mixed metaphors. Especially if you throw in some tomatoes and cucumbers before serving.

  19. I guess that’s what happens when there is a subduction plate boundary under the ice.

  20. Jeez, I hope this volcano isn’t putting CO2 into the ocean, that makes some scientists cry.

  21. “Warm geothermal conditions may help to make subglacial habitats more supportive of microbial life, and could also drive fluid flow that delivers heat, carbon, and nutrients to these communities.”

    Wait a minute – I thought heat and carbon were the bad guys, but here they support life??

    • But this is bad life.
      The critters are anoxic which means they don’t want oxygen around and would happily remove it all from our atmosphere if they could.They possibly could want revenge for the plants destroying their original habitat’s atmosphere. Maybe they could conceivably be working towards our possible destruction.
      So heat and carbon are still the bad guys, still no need to change dogma.

  22. They could always use some sort of gravitational sensor to measure the ice…

    … I’m sure it would be totally unaffected by the volcanic movement in the crust below… OOOPS!

  23. As noted by many.
    No prior measurements… but a trend is implied.
    Very Mark Twain..ish.
    Imagine, soon these same “experts” will notice that there is a Ring of Fire around the Pacific Ocean, or that the sky is blue and panic accordingly.
    Of course what global warming are they genuflecting to?
    With a single point in time indication of geothermal heat they can only compare to the “Estimate Average Global Temperature” at the same point in time.
    Wait 30 years (climate you know) then compare their data sets.

  24. I’m sure there are scientists that understand the way ice flows over bedrock.
    Sometimes it is sticky and grabs boulders, at other times it just slides.
    Something to do with temperature ?
    Which brings me to my main point, why do my ice cube trays sometimes stick and shatter, and at other times release perfect cubes ?

    • let them sit out on the counter for 5 minutes before you crack them and you’ll discover the magic of a microscopic layer of liquid water.

      As for making the perfect peel-able boil egg, add some salt to the boiling water.

      The key to understanding the oceans and the ice it forms is to understand how 35 ppt of sodium alters its colligative properties.

  25. Umm didn’t they only drill one hole? I think they might need more than one data point to make any conclusion. If I drilled one hole in Yellowstone park 20m from the geyser to represent all of the continents rate of heat flux how would the comparison look?

  26. Looking at the area of red on the map, I see an area of about 38,000 square miles. That is larger than the area of the state of Indiana. How many measurements were made in this area to conclude that it is 0.8 degrees hotter than the rest of Antarctica? I don’t think that they have the data…my BS detector is registering high on this one.

  27. This isn’t the first paper to find geothermal warming.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/111/25/9070

    What’s more, I seem to remember the discovery of volcanic vents in the waters off the coast. The heating is not limited to just the land. Any heating of the water would help melt glacial grounding toes which would then speed up the glacial flow.

    The one thing we do know is there has been no overall warming in and around Antarctica while the Southern Ocean has been cooling for a decade or more.

  28. Regarding: “The geothermal heat flux measured in the new study was about 285 milliwatts per square meter, which is like the heat from one small LED Christmas-tree light per square meter, Fisher said.”

    I have two 60-bulb Christmas light strings, Philips brand, one white, one red. These 120 bulbs combined are consuming 4.81 watts of power (120.7 volts, 42.6 mA, power factor measured as .935 – probably due to harmonic content in the line current). This is 40.1 milliwatts per bulb, including power dissipated in dropping resistors and anything else.

    I think my case is a little on the low side, and more typical is somewhere in the range of 50-100 milliwatts per bulb including losses in dropping resistors and anything else such as at least sometimes rectifiers.

    All of these figures are much less than 285 milliwatts. For that matter, they are also a lot less than the generally around .4-.5 watt consumed by incandescent low voltage holiday “mini light” string bulbs, the 4-7 watts drawn by C7 candelabra screw base bulbs, and the generally 7 watts drawn by C9 candelabra screw base bulbs.

    • well there goes the joy of Christmas for me. Next I suppose you’ll calculate the numbers of joules needed to move Santa’s sleigh at Supersonic, and then conclude 9 reindeer aren’t enough.
      Party pooper.

  29. ‘geothermal heating reported in this study does not explain the alarming loss of ice from West Antarctica that has been documented by other researchers. ‘

    Which in turn does not explain why there is not only no loss but an increase in the rest of the Antarctica , but then we have ‘magic CO2’ we can blame for that which by some means only affects the West Antarctica but none of the rest of the Antarctica

  30. Has anyone done the sums the other way round? How much heat is needed to melt half an inch of ice at brass monkey temperature and whatever pressure 3000m of overburden creates?

    • I would like to add a footnote.
      Notice the map of Antartica, how the western tail appears to be torn loose from the main body of land. Also if you look at a larger map, it seems to be pulled away from S. American tip.

      I did some studies of the tectonics and at one time took a map of the world and cut the land mass apart like a jig-saw puzzle. When I assembled them I found this Antartic part to fit into Pangea.

      Also the Gulf of Mexico seems to fit next to Yucatan.

      We have an uplift area here in Texas called the Balcones Fault Zone. Straight lines running from the peaks near Cibolo across to the hills just west of Uvalde. In between I found rusted snails in an area called the “badlands”.

      It seem that all of the pushing from the south that occurred after the meteor struck (65mil years ago) that S. america moved south and left two strings of islands as a reminder.

      For years I have thought about the location they picked for Byrd station. Maybe it is above the “first” strike that caused everything to happen 300mil years ago. If so, thars a hot hunk of metal under Byrd trying to cool off….

  31. The article in Scientific American mentions NIGHT LIGHTS, power consumption .3 watts (3000 milliwatts)
    it does not mention CHRISTMAS-TREE LIGHTS power consumption 40 – 60 milliwatts.

  32. “Lead author Andrew Fisher, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, emphasized that the geothermal heating reported in this study does not explain the alarming loss of ice from West Antarctica that has been documented by other researchers.”

    There they go again. Still kowtowing to the AGW meme. Please! Don’t accuse us of being deniers!!!

  33. The amount of heat flowing toward the base of the West Antarctic ice sheet from geothermal sources deep within the Earth is surprisingly high,

    Any one per cent competent computer modeller would have said that this was baseline information for any computer model concerned with CO2 or temperature as one of the variables. So sad that the recruitment standards in climate science even in the top British and US universities is so low the holders of these posts are able to say the science is beyond question when way back we had the same information showing localised heating in the Arctic from NASA in the form of the file AMSRE_SSTAn_M.
    there should be no surprises if the science is beyond question.

  34. This is just another example where we need congressional investigations into this garbage. Congress and the Nation simply need to know what a wasteful joke spending on climate “science” is. I must admit that I love seeing that chart titled “Byrd,” given that OSU has the Byrd Polar Research Center for Fraudulent Climate Science. Clearly they don’t understand what is happening under their very noses.

    BTW, watch this video clip. Al Gore accidentally debunks his own myth. He explains why the oceans are warming. He clearly identifies is incoming radiation as the cause. CO2 is transparent to incoming radiation. The sun warms the oceans, the oceans melt the ice cap, CO2 has absolutely nothing to do with it. Don’t take my word for it, just listen to Al Gore. The nit wit doesn’t seem to understand that his own video disproves his theory.

    Also, Al doesn’t seem familiar with this photographic evidence.

    BTW, the Mt Kilimanjaro glacier is 5,000 feet above the freeze line. I would love Al Gore to explain to Congress how ice melts in sub zero temperatures.

  35. “Lead author Andrew Fisher, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, emphasized that the geothermal heating reported in this study does not explain the alarming loss of ice from West Antarctica that has been documented by other researchers. “The ice sheet developed and evolved with the geothermal heat flux coming up from below–it’s part of the system. But this could help explain why the ice sheet is so unstable. When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” he said.”

    You absolutely have to love these climate “scientists.” They have a melting ice shelf that sits above a volcano, and they conclude that the volcano isn’t the cause. Even when provided this evidence they conclude the cause is CO2. Just read the quote above. Clearly he understands that his funding depends on finding CO2 as a cause. What a complete joke. BTW, how does IR or peak 15 microns warm the oceans? It doesn’t. How does he tie CO2 into this? He doesn’t. There is no mechanism for the CO2 to warm the oceans. There is no mechanism for CO2 to result in cooling. There in no mechanism for CO2 to cause a pause in warming. CO2 can only trap and release radiation or peak wavelength 15 microns, that is it. There is no defined mechanism by which CO2 can cause the oceans to warm. It is a non-starter.

  36. Wild guess, but my bet is that the left side (West?) of Antarctica is the side that is losing the ice. Imagine that, but clearly the melt must be do to the localized effect of CO2. My understanding is there there is no atmospheric CO2 in the right (East?) side of Antarctica.That is why only one side of Antarctica is melting.

  37. “… the 0.3 watts/sq meter it contributes isn’t ANYTHING close to the ‘about two-tenths of a Watt per square meter’ forcing measured from CO2 department.”
    That’s because it’s a different type of heat — it doesn’t get amplified by water vapour.

    (do I really need to add the /sarc ?)

  38. The article makes a case for global warming alarmism.

    “When you add the effects of global warming, things can start to change quickly,” he said.

  39. Once again, this article highlights how the Climate “Scientists” have been given enough rope (funded intended to produce a predetermined result) to hang themselves. They seem to think that the political winds will never change so they can perpetrate this fraud on the unsuspecting and trusting tax paying public. Anyone concerned with the integrity of Academia, the integrity of real science, the integrity of the Media and the integrity of our Government should be highly concerned that garbage reports like this are accepted as quality scientific research and conclusions funded by the American tax payer.

    President Obama accepts this garbage as gospel.

    The EPA not only overlooks the obvious flaws in this research, it actively promotes its usage in job killing regulations.

    NASA, the organization that put a man on the moon has the most to lose. They have gone from the most respected applied scientific organizations in the world to an accomplice in one of the greatest hoaxes in scientific history. If we can’t trust NASA who can we trust? The IRS? Ooops, sorry, just had to throw that on in.

    The 1st Amendment created a protected Media so they could act as a government watch dog. They are working with the government support policies that are sure to result in government tyranny…just ask an unemployed coal miner, or anyone threaten with prosecution for being a “denier.”

    We are allowing these climate “scientists” to return us to the Dark Ages, where real science no longer matters. We are repeating the mistakes of Lysenkoism.

    Our already failing public schools are also pushing this garbage on our children, so more minds are robbed of a real education in science.

    Bottom line, this fraud is so vast and it undermines the most important institutions of our social fabric, that it threaten to destroy the trust in the institutions that are required ton hold us together. This is Watergate and the Tobacco fiasco on steroids. I can’t think of anything more damaging to the world than the politicization of science. Lysencoism and Eugenics resulted in the lose of countless millions of lives. Do these climate “scientists” really want to take us down that path? Should we just sit back and let them destroy the credibility, integrity and public trust in Government, Education and the Media?

    Once again, we need to be calling for Congressional hearings and force these researchers to explain how CO2 can have such a focused localized affect and effect. How can CO2 warm the oceans. How can CO2 only cause ice loss on one side of Antarctica, the side with volcano.

    We have replaced the watch dogs of society with a fox and put it in charge of guarding the hen house. There is no way for this situation to end well. Unless the Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering, Economics, and Physics departments start to speak up, the credibility of everyone in academia will be ruined. Their silence will be used as an admission of guilt once this hoax is finally exposed, and everyone’s funding will be threatened, not just the Climate “Scientists.” When this ship goes down, it will take everyone in Academia down with it.

    Time to wake up Academia, the only thing evil needs to take root in society is for good man to do nothing. Are there no good men left in Academia? Once again, a simple stepwise regression model would never select CO2 as a significant variable, and all the IPCC models have been proven wrong. How much more evidence of a fraud do you need?

  40. “co2islife.

    What is with the Gish Gallop? You would not be trying to fool people would you? It is not polite to hold people in such contempt that you think it is OK to try and trick them.

    Sea ice extent might be increasing in parts, but so what? Sea ice extent is seasonal. I was referring to glaciers.”

    Point being? The arctic has subzero temperatures. How does atmospheric CO2 cause ice to melt in sub-zero temperatures? Please explain.

    Yes, the sea level is increasing at around 3.3 mm/year. Or around 8 inches in the last century or so. This with the warming oceans is enough to undermine the ends of the glaciers. And your sea level change chart does indeed show acceleration.

    1) the sea level chart does not indeed show an acceleration, it is clearly linear. In fact it recently dipped down.

    2) The oceans are warming and therefore expanding. How is CO2 warming the oceans? It can’t. IR at 13 to 17 represents a black body of between -50 and -110 degree C. How can something colder than 0 degree cause ice to melt? It can’t.

    Your link to the Antarctic elevations chart demonstrates… nothing.

    Thank you for pointing that out, I 100% agree. Did you bother to read the article. That is the evidence used to prove the ice is melting. Thanks for making my point. Following is the link that didn’t seem to work. I was trying to make that point but you made it for me. The conclusion of climate scientists and their data is pure garbage. Thanks for making my point.

    Greenland ice melting at record speed

    Satellite data shows ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are declining at record speed.
    http://www.dw.com/en/greenland-ice-melting-at-record-speed/a-17869513

    BTW, can anyone explain to me how Methane CH4 has a dipole? Climate “scientists” seem to have forgotten their basics when demonizing methane.

  41. We’ve been discussing for several years here on WUWT W. Antarctica chains of volcanoes, new sub-ice volcanoes found recently and volcanoes on the sea floor off W. Antarctica. How scientific is it when these guys find an apparently new hot spot beneath an area of rapid melting and don’t report the real significance – it is geothermal heat doing it all, not CO2 warming. The warming doesn’t even come to above zero in most places on the whole continent. Warming -20C ice to -17C ice doesn’t give melting. Also, how can the warm seawater from this CO2 warming get under the area where they measured the geothermal flux? Is the sub glacial lake saline? I think not. This is why it’s impossible to make real discoveries in climate science. You have to be able to let the CO2 theory take a rest when you find something like this.

  42. Is this heating connected to the underground UFO base in Antarctica? The surface building 14 miles long and 4 miles wide can be seen clearly on Google Earth.

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