Claim: Glaciers melt faster than ever

This is the Rhone Glacier in June 2014. CREDIT Simon Oberli

This is the Rhone Glacier in June 2014. CREDIT Simon Oberli

From the UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH and the “lets ignore some of these other growing glaciers” department

The World Glacier Monitoring Service, domiciled at the University of Zurich, has compiled worldwide data on glacier changes for more than 120 years. Together with its National Correspondents in more than 30 countries, the international service just published a new comprehensive analysis of global glacier changes in the Journal of Glaciology. In this study, observations of the first decade of the 21st century (2001-2010) were compared to all available earlier data from in-situ, air-borne, and satellite-borne observations as well as to reconstructions from pictorial and written sources.

«The observed glaciers currently lose between half a metre and one metre of its ice thickness every year – this is two to three times more than the corresponding average of the 20th century», explains Michael Zemp, Director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service and lead author of the study. «Exact measurements of this ice loss are reported from a few hundred glaciers only. However, these results are qualitatively confirmed from field and satellite-based observations for tens of thousands of glaciers around the world.»

Global glacier decline

According to the international author team, the current rate of glacier melt is without precedence at global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history, as indicated also in reconstructions from written and illustrated documents. In addition, the study shows that the long-term retreat of glacier tongues is a global phenomenon. Intermittent re?advance periods at regional and decadal scales are normally restricted to a subsample of glaciers and have not come close to achieving the Little Ice Age maximum positions reached between the 16th and 19th century. As such, glacier tongues in Norway have retreated by some kilometres from its maximum extents in the 19th century. The intermittent re-advances of the 1990s were restricted to glaciers in the coastal area and to a few hundred metres.

In addition, the study indicates that the intense ice loss of the past two decades has resulted in a strong imbalance of glaciers in many regions of the world. «These glaciers will suffer further ice loss, even if climate remains stable», explains Michael Zemp.

###

The World Glacier Monitoring Service, with the support of its National Correspondents, compiles the results of worldwide glacier observations in annual calls-for-data. The current database contains more than 5,000 measurements of glacier volume and mass changes since 1850 and more than 42,000 front variations from observations and reconstructions reaching back to the 16th century. The international service is hosted at the Department of Geography of the University of Zurich, is co-financed by the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss within the framework of GCOS Switzerland, and works under the auspices of several international organizations: http://www.wgms.ch

Literatur:

Zemp, Michael, Frey, H., Gärtner-Roer, I., Nussbaumer, S.U., Hoelzle, M., Paul, F., Haeberli, W., Denzinger, F., Ahlstroem, A.P., Anderson, B., Bajracharya, S., Baroni, C., Braun, L.N., Caceres, B.E., Casassa, G., Cobos, G., Davila, L.R., Delgado Granados, H., Demuth, M.N., Espizua, L., Fischer, A., Fujita, K., Gadek, B., Ghazanfar, A., Hagen, J.O., Holmlund, P., Karimi, N., Li, Z., Pelto, M., Pitte, P., Popovnin, V.V., Portocarrero, C.A., Prinz, R., Sangewar, C.V., Severskiy, I., Sigurdsson, O., Soruco, A., Usubaliev, R., and Vincent, C. (2015): Historically unprecedented global glacier decline in the early 21st century. Journal of Glaciology.

Doi: 10.3189/2015JoG15J017 [URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/2015JoG15J017]

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130 thoughts on “Claim: Glaciers melt faster than ever

  1. My understanding is that more than 90% of the world’s glaciers are on the Antarctic continent and that the majority of the have been advancing in the past 30 years. Are any data available on aggregate ice mass in the global cryosphere or does the WGMS confine itself to easily accessible sites?

      • This research group of the University of Zurich does know that it is a sort of lie to claim “faster than EVER”, because they know the findings of Prof. Christian Schlüchter and others (see e.g. here:
        http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.ch/2013/07/paper-finds-alps-were-nearly-ice-free.html ),
        which clearly indicated that the Alpine glaciers were much smaller in the Roman Warm Period 2000 years ago and certainly not bigger than today during the Medieval Warm Period, and therefore there is no need to go back until the Holocene Climate Optimum when the Alps were nearly ice-free.
        So why do they still lie to the public by not mentioning this well known and (for them) rather inconvenient facts?
        Because they are not true and consequently impartial scientists. They have an agenda and a clear target: COP 21 in Paris.
        PS
        They will claim to their apology that they only meant “faster than ever since the Little Ice Age”, but they know of course that the general public will only remember the head lines…

      • Nonsense! Glaciers are melting. The one in Alaska that is still growing is thinner and has received a lot of snow recently due to the polar vortex, which gave the eastern United States some of the coldest winters. The oceans are still getting warmer, the Himalayas glaciers are still melting, Greenland is still melting. Stick with the facts not some anecdotal baloney.

      • I heard there was an old village exposed by a receding glacier in the Alps. One old cabin was still intact. Inside, researchers found an old sandwich—anecdotal baloney on wry.

      • @bobthebear
        You missed the crucial point.
        The majority of glaciers (apart of East Antarctica) are melting of course since we have overcome the temperature depression of the Little Ice Age at last (and have reached similar temps as in the MWP now). But it’s a lie to state they melt “faster than EVER”. Given the indisputable evidence of old trees (partly still with their roots in the ground) which emerge from under glaciers which are melting just now, and which can be dated rather precisely by the radiocarbon method, it’s absolutely clear that the Roman Warm Periode, the Minoan Warm Periode, and of course the Holocene Climate Optimum, were significantly warmer and must have melt the glaciers faster than today. Consequently there were much less remains of glaciers in the Alps than now. Even the Medieval Warm Period, with comparable temps as today, left some regions ice-free, which are still covered by glaciers today, as e.g. the so-called “Wetterlücke” in the Bernese Alps. For more information see here:
        http://notrickszone.com/2014/06/09/giant-of-geologyglaciology-christian-schluechter-refutes-co2-feature-interview-throws-climate-science-into-disarray/#sthash.UGGINLxI.5yTcCxUI.dpbs

        • I may have missed your point, but my point is a lot simpler. All the scientist working today are aware of your point, but they still say that man made global warming is a fact and that it is warming faster than predicted. the facts are in ocean warming, ocean acidification, insects, mammals, birds moving to cooler areas. What is the purpose of your denial of what’s going on? If you are right no harm done, if you are wrong, catastrophe. Why not play it safe? Probability is on the side of the 97%.

      • @ bobthebear
        Well, your answer shows that you are a 150% believer of the main stream IPCC orthodoxy and that you are not aware or don’t want to engage with the manyfold informations, e.g. given here on wuwt, which deliver a lot of qualified reasons to doubt or at least discuss all the usual scare stories you mentioned (like ocean acidification, endangered animals etc.).
        But, though it’s unlikely I can convince you, here is my reply:
        – It is unethical and unscientifically to manipulate the general public by claiming in head lines “glacier melting faster than Ever” when this claim is simply and knowingly wrong.
        – The infamous 97% study, though still often used in political propaganda, was just ridiculous because the majority of climate skeptics belong to the 97% given the imprecise categories used there.
        – It is quite wrong to claim “All the scientist working today are aware of your point, but they still say that man made global warming is a fact and that it is warming faster than predicted.” Many working scientists are skeptical (you will find here on wuwt a lot of critical contributions of working scientists of all fields) and even some prominent climate researchers would not back your claim fully like Judith Curry or John Christy. BTW: The real question is not if “man made global warming is a fact”, but how much and will it be dangerous.
        – There are some examples in science history when the majority of scientists an their “settled science” were actually totally wrong. For instance in plate tectonics, or quite recently, in the debate about “saturated fats and cholesterol in food as reasons for heart disease”.
        – It is unethical and unscientifically to abuse opponents in a scientific discussion as “deniers” or people which do purposefully propagate “denial”.
        – You asks “What is the purpose of your denial”? To make it clear: I have no financial interests in oil or coal at all? As a trained natural scientist myself, I’m only disgusted by the corruption of science and public communication by political goals and the ruling “zeitgeist”.
        If you are right, I don’t believe in an catastrophic result for us or the planet. Warmth is better for mankind and nature than coldness, and humans can adapt. The real danger would be a new big ice age, which is rather overdue after about 12’000 years of our current interglacial.
        – If you are wrong there is already done (and will be much more) harm owing to the current war on plant food CO2: The greening of the planet (because of more photosynthesis with less water) thanks to increased CO2 air concentrations will stop, especially in half deserts. And the energy prices will rise strongly, particularly for poor people and countries. BTW: Wind energy is ruining the landscape and kills many birds and bats. And other forms of Green Energy are also not very green at all. See e.g. here:
        https://youtu.be/5igyXyJKL_0

  2. ‘reaching back to the 16th century.’
    while that certainly leaves much for ‘adjustments ‘
    ‘the current rate of glacier melt is without precedence at global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history, ‘
    well that is the BS tick box well and truly filled in in accordance with the ’cause’
    Recorded history can be consider be a few thousand years old, and for most of that time the people recoding that history did not even know glaciers existed let alone record any factors related to them.
    Tell us when they first had accurate measurements of glacier where taken , then we can see how much of recorded history that really represents..
    Its pure Paris BS , and one of many to come .

    • Press release:

      [..]have not come close to achieving the Little Ice Age maximum positions reached between the 16th and 19th century

      I’d rather more interested in minimum positions before the LIA. How small these glaciers were during the mediaeval times?
      If diff between MWP min and LIA max is about the same as modern min and LIA max, then what is the news?

      • My take on that statement: what a f*cking surprise! It was an ICE Age. I just wonder how academics can be so stupid.

      • Even earlier the warming from AD 325 –
        Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve located in southeastern, Alaska has a long and complex Holocene glacial history. Adams Inlet is a small inlet located within the East Arm of the Park where previous glacial stratigraphic and radiocarbon dating identified two major ice advances about 2500 and 1500 yr BP in the region. Ice from the West Arm flowed into the mouth of Muir Inlet from the lower bay area, while ice in upper Muir Inlet flowed eastward into the upper reaches of Adams Inlet, with lakes created during both events. Following these periods of ice advance and lake creation, ice advanced out of Adams and Muir Inlets into the lower bay during the Little Ice Age. Recession of the ice in Muir Inlet began about 1872 and continues today, with sediment infilling the bay concurrent with isostatic uplift. This study presents new tree ring data and calibrated radiocarbon dates that together with stratigraphic work details the First Millennium AD (FMA) advance for Adams Inlet including the Casement Glacier.Calendar dating of 87 tree cores and cross sections from detrital logs at five locations in Adams Inlet and a tree-ring-width series from Casement Glacier Valley from an overrun forest, show that trees were likely killed during three stages within approximately 200 years by a series of ice-related events centered on AD 600 years.
        poster here – https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2012AM/webprogram/Handout/Paper210202/GSAPOSTER.pdf

    • They’ve been taking ice core samples for years now. Some going back 800,000 years. Is that far enough? Step back and look at what is really happening. There’s plenty of evidence in favor of climate change, the deniers only have anecdotal evidence. In science that doesn’t cut it.

      • You said it, Bobthebear. There’s plenty of evidence in favor of climate change going back 800,000 years. I’ll bet it’s been going on even longer than that. Some people are in denial of this, and believe it’s only been changing for the past 150 years.
        Eamon.

  3. BS or not the trick here is that scientist say gletjers are melting so it must be tru. We can not argue whit this one because they already believe those scientist saying so.

    • ‘Ronald on August 4, 2015 at
      3:35 am
      BS or not the trick here is that
      scientist say gletjers are
      melting so it must be tru.’
      ____
      agreed, Ronald –
      they may show small evidence.
      But the label ‘science’ mimicks PROOF.
      ____
      bad for science.
      Hans

  4. Oh my word, wait until the noble Lord Monckton sees this! I had the pleasure of seeing Christopher Monckton fielding a question as to “why are all the world’s glaciers melting?” at a lecture at Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, about three years ago. Without looking at notes he crushed his hapless, youthful, warmist inquisitor under a tonnage of referenced scientific papers (with dates and names of leading researchers) which showed emphatically that most glaciers were not melting.
    So come on Lord Monckton! It is a cold, rainy, cloudy day here in England (high summer, of course) and we can feel the cold breath of a mini Ice Age pressing on our children’s necks, so please bring some cheer in the form of your glittering aperçus on the state of the earth’s glaciers….

    • Funny your need to go back to 2012, (recent alarmist good news must be scarce) and idiotic to think potboler had some influence on what Monckton writes about.
      Contrary to The world is ending climate sites that will not publish Monckton other than through quote mining, Wattsupwiththat published Hadfield’s response in full. Which sites have more integrity, hmmm?

  5. Interglacial, duh!
    Time to panic when the glaciers are not melting, or as in the case of Europeans in the LIA, time to start praying.

    • We are about 10,000 years into an interglacial, which usually take about 10,000 years. So just to give you high hopes that CO2 can actually stop the next ice age starting before year 2100.

      • We are more like 12,500 years into this Interglacial. We are (over)due for the 85,000 years Glacial period.

      • If you regard the temperature trend from the peak of Holocene warmth, which was roughly 7,000 to 8,000 years ago, then quite the contrary, we have been sliding steadily into a glacial period since that point, which was also the period of maximum sea level if we accept evidence from the Pacific, Gulph of Mexico, Brazil, etc., where evidence indicates a marine high stand about 1.5 meters above the present. The cooling slope is not as abrupt as say the Illinoisian, but quite definitely there.

  6. ‘the current rate of glacier melt is without precedence at global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history, ‘
    So is it without precedence at global scale or without precedence for the time period observed or without precedence for probably aw forget it!

      • The authors knew you would be looking for “unprecedented” and changed it to: “. . .without precedence at a global scale. . .” They are devious and cunning, and bear close watching at all times.

  7. I don’t know whether to save the glaciers first or the polar bears.
    Decisions, decisions, decisions. It is just too much.

  8. Er, yes. The Earth seems to have got a bit warmer since the Little Ice Age, which is about the time they started measuring glaciers. I would expect some glaciers to melt a bit, and to melt faster than they did in the LIA. Why is this big news?

  9. “Albedo”. Carbon black (soot) explains nearly all of this.
    Since we know glaciers were further receded in historical times, this is likely another example of how the climate obsession is hurting, not helping, the advance of science.

  10. «These glaciers will suffer further ice loss, even if climate remains stable», explains Michael Zemp.

    If a wx-forecaster fails it will be known within hours. If a glacial forecast fails it will take hundreds of years until impact. Glaceologists do make apodictic statements and are always right. What great a pleasure for them…

    • They don’t have to make forecasts, they have photos. The glaciers are melting every where.. Whether one likes it or not, they’re disappearing.

  11. I saw this on Swiss news last night. The favorite “go to” are pictures of the Rhone glacier from the mid-1800s. It has indeed receded dramatically since then. Of course, they never mention that it’s extent was due to the Little Ice Age, which officially ended around 1850. So of course it’s smaller today.

  12. Man is a law-making animal. We observe events and then generalize the impact of these observations into laws of nature and/or rules of conduct. But often very shallow reasoning is used to make these laws (a.k.a. “superstitions”).
    “I got sick yesterday after eating that new food. So it must be cause. Don’t eat that food any more!”
    “These glaciers are melting. They are probably melting all over the world because of global warming. Don’t make any more CO2!”
    To make good rules about glaciers we need reliable metrics. Are there any objective global metrics that can measure the true state and trend of glaciers today with respect to their climate, geography, longevity and historical condition?

  13. “The ice is melting” is such a great Alarmist talking point. They can cherry pick the glaciers and their time interval, and ignore inconvenient facts like it is only fairly recently that ice thickness has been measured, and factors such as sublimation. They are banking on people’s ignorance, laziness, and willingness to Believe, because the CAGW gravy train has some miles still left in her.

    • What do you mean by ignoring sublimation? Do you mean sublimation is not ‘melting’? That is not the point..

      • Sublimation is not equivalent to melting in the sense that it can make ice ‘disappear’ below the freezing point of water. Melting requires temperature to rise, sublimation doesn’t.
        So ice mass can disappear without the ‘help’ of global warming.

      • Er.. well it could theoretically be GW caused even if it didn’t melt. The pressure at which ice sublimes increases with temp, even when they are below freezing point.

      • Sublimation can cause ice to disappear only if the ice is not renewed. That would be due to drier air – thus cooler air, not warmer. So, AGW is an unlikely culprit.

    • They also ignore changes in precipitation. For example, the Kilimanjaro glaciers were decreasing because of drop in rainfall caused by deforestation. The area in question was actually getting colder.

  14. For those who want to make up their own mind look at this:
    The Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI 5.0) is a global inventory of glacier outlines. It is supplemental to the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space initiative (GLIMS). Production of the RGI was motivated by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5). Future updates will be made to the RGI and the GLIMS Glacier Database in parallel during a transition period. As all these data are incorporated into the GLIMS Glacier Database and as download tools are developed to obtain GLIMS data in the RGI data format, the RGI will evolve into a downloadable subset of GLIMS, offering complete one-time coverage, version control, and a standard set of attributes.
    http://www.glims.org/RGI/

    • In your link I see that the GLIMS folks freely admit that RGI was motivated by the IPCC:
      “Production of the RGI was motivated by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5). “
      So it is very difficult for me to believe that RGI management is not somehow influenced by this very powerful organization whose main goal is to serve as a lobbyist for global political activism, not for the sake of pure science (scientia sit ad scientiam propter)

  15. I usually like to take a look at the paper before trying to judge anything about it. Thankfully Anthony provided the link (Science journalists everywhere should follow his example). Also thankfully, the article is open access. Unfortunately, it did me no good because the “download paper” button does nothing. I was going to blame my computer for that until I noticed at the top of the page there’s a spot where it simply says “Journal of Glaciology Logo”…instead of the logo they have text to say where it goes. Give that it’s 2015 and the journal can’t even set up a functional website, I think I’ll go ahead and judge the quality of the research they publish without having read any of their articles.

  16. It would be interesting to see what the average for the 20th century they used. It would also be interesting to see how much decadal variability there is in the data. That would tell you if the current situation is outside the norm. But a claim like “Three times the recent average!” does sound like warm-up for Paris.
    How Timely:
    It is not temperature driving the purported melt.
    Dr. Roy Spencer updated UAH 6.0 on his blog yesterday, global at +0.18 deg.
    The Great Pause now at 18 years, 5 months with UAH v6.0b data and counting, gaining one month. I must say I did not expect to gain a month with an El Nino in progress.

    • Could be due to the blob. The tropics are warm but the NH is not as warm as it normally is during an El Nino. It could be the blob is not releasing as much energy into the atmosphere which is the reason for its existence and will hamper warming from the El Nino.

  17. You can soot yourself over this topic.
    [Ah, but have the readers, the writers, or the over-wrought righters-of-the-world soot themselves in the foot over this problem? .mod]

  18. i put this report in the bin marked – Muir glacier-
    As flagged up here on WUWT a while back , most of the ice loss happened in the early 20th century. Another alarmist claim that fell apart on closer inspection – of photographs.

  19. It’s funny that it’s UZ, since many of the glaciers in Switzerland have been growing over the last few years, and many of the North Slope Glaciers in the Himalayan Mountains are reported to be growing rapidly, although the Chinese do not allow anything close to routine monitoring, (you can be arrested for spying if you just take pictures without the permission of you state sponsored guide).
    I’ve been on about 40 major glaciers and/or snowfields in the past 30 years, most of them in the European Alps, with a lot of time spent near Zermatt and Solden. Many snowfields saw substantial declines in the 90’s. But there’s also some general agreement among local guides that the primary culprit was the use of dirty diesel and the increased truck traffic as transit across Europe became more and more open. More than one ski was company was actually formulating glide waxes based on the notion that there were some substantial hydrocarbon residues at many of the World Cup venues. As the diesel fuel gets cleaned up the glaciers appear to be growing.

    • It’s funny that it’s UZ, since many of the glaciers in Switzerland have been growing over the last few years, and many of the North Slope Glaciers in the Himalayan Mountains are reported to be growing rapidly…

      Conclusion: Schreibtischforschung or Davenport desk research.

    • From that article:

      Valdés responded: “At the time of production of this map we were only able to find multiple sources from 2012, including the main source we used … showing multiyear sea ice trends over a 30-year period.” The 2012 source also fit better with the style of the map, he added.
      Publication schedules have an impact as well.

      BS!

  20. “The ice is melting, the oceans they are rising, and as for the sky, she is falling” – Chicken Little, in his calmer state of mind.

  21. So, that’s why our rivers are shrinking. Hey? Disappearing of snow is not due to melting faster but snow not being added regularly as used to be because frequency of rain is decreasing.

  22. http://www.archive.org/stream/arcticice00zubo#page/n0/mode/2up
    LITERATURE: 27, 58, 62, 77. Section 162. Warming of the Arctic Along with the fluctuations in ice abundance in each individual sea from year to year, in late years a most interesting phenomenon has been observed-a warming of the arctic, as evidenced by a gradual and universal decrease in ice abundance. The main evidences of this general warming of the arctic are: 1. Receding of glaciers and “melting away” of islands. According to the testimony of Wegener, all the Greenland glaciers which descend into Northeast Bay and Disko Bay, have been receding since approximately the beginning of the present century. In particular the Jakobshavn glacier receded about 20 m during the period 1880 to 1902. As has already been mentioned, the glaciers of these two bays produce the main mass of the Greenland icebergs. Receding of glaciers during recent years has likewise been observed on Spitzbergen, Franz Joseph Land, and Novaya Zemlya. On Franz Joseph Land during recent years several islands have appeared as if broken in two. It turned out that they had been connected up to that time by ice bridges. During voyages on the Perseus in 1934 and the Sadko in 1935, I carefully compared the descriptions of glaciers on Jan Mayen and Spitzbergen in some English sailing directions of 1911 with what I observed and everywhere I noted a great decrease in size of glaciers. Ahlman explored the glaciers of Spitzbergen in 1934 and found that these glaciers are now melting faster than they grow on account of fall of snow. Ahlman terms the rapid receding of the Spitzbergen glaciers “catastrophic.” Sumgin informed me that the southern boundary of permafrost in Siberia is everywhere receding northward. In 1837 this boundary, for example, ran somewhat south of the town of Mezen and was found at a depth of 2 m. In 1933 the Academy of Sciences Expedition found this boundary at the village of Semzha 40 km further north. The washing away of the Lyakhoskiye Ostrova and the disappearance of Vasilevski Ostrov in the Laptev Sea belong to the same type of phenomena.

  23. So, as well as “the missing heat” disappearing into the oceans, it is now selectively melting glaciers, not all of them just some of them? Idiots the lot of them!!

  24. wasn’t there a town in the Swiss Alps that was covered by an advancing glacier during the LIA?

    • No, but in Grindelwald (near Interlaken) it came quite close. There and on the other mountain-side the Catholic Church mobilized the people and their prayer-processions stopped the advancing menace. The Catholic Church in Switzerland is preoccupied with its internal divisions nowadays, that is why it hasn’t had the opportunity to stop the lovely ice retreating.
      Today, actually, the sprawling village threatens the glaciers.

  25. Ice on the Planet – Increasing or Decreasing? We don’t Have a Clue.
    We really don’t have a clue what is happening with ice on this planet. Even with satellite technology, the question of Arctic and Antarctic ice thickening or thinning over the long term is fraught with debate because of seasonal and long-term natural ocean cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and others. Also there are over 100,000+ glaciers in the world, some retreating, others advancing. Presently the so-called “world data base” consists of data from less than 350 glaciers. Most of these tend to be in places somewhat accessible to researchers. Most are not. Every glacier has it’s own unique situation regarding why it is either advancing or retreating depending on not only temperature and precipitation over long periods of time, but terrain, elevation, prevailing winds over time and other many other factors. Even the measurement techniques tend to vary depending on the researcher. Many researchers keep their own databases on the glaciers they monitor because they don’t trust the others. The top researchers in this field bemoan the lack of data after more than 65 years of monitoring the “glacier mass balance”.
    How anyone can draw rigorous and definite conclusions from this paucity of non-standardized data is beyond me, unless they have a non-scientific agenda.

    • Some microglaciers have been discovered over the past 10 years in, of all places, the UK.

  26. Two things:
    1) If so, why does it not show in the sea level change (I guess this will be fixed before Paris in Dec.)
    2) If so, why don’t we catch this water and a generate electricity thereby reducing CO2 worldwide.

  27. Below are 17 papers that contradict the claim that glaciers and ice sheets across the globe are “melting faster than ever.” If anything, there has been a deceleration of ice mass loss on a global scale in the last decade or so, and in several cases glaciers and ice sheets are advancing.
    —–
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X15004100
    Highlights:Ice mass loss (2003–2014) was approximately one order of magnitude [10 times] smaller than between 1995–2003.
    Abstract: The northern Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest changing regions on Earth. The disintegration of the Larsen-A Ice Shelf in 1995 caused tributary glaciers to adjust by speeding up, surface lowering, and overall increased ice-mass discharge. … The contribution to sea level rise was estimated to be 18.8±1.8 Gt, corresponding to a 0.052±0.005 mm sea level equivalent [0.002 of an inch], for the period 1995–2014.
    —–
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10712-011-9123-5
    Overview and Assessment of Antarctic Ice-Sheet Mass Balance Estimates: 1992–2009
    Our preferred estimate for 1992–2001 is −47 Gt/year for West Antarctica, +16 Gt/year for East Antarctica, and −31 Gt/year overall (+0.1 mm/year SLE). [Antarctic ice sheet melt contributes 0.38 of an inch of sea level rise every 100 years.] Although recent reports of large and increasing rates of mass loss with time from GRACE-based studies cite agreement with IOM [input-minus-output method] results, our evaluation does not support that conclusion.
    —–
    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20120013495
    Mass Gains of the Antarctic Ice Sheet Exceed Losses
    During 2003 to 2008, the mass gain of the Antarctic ice sheet from snow accumulation exceeded the mass loss from ice discharge by 49 Gt/yr (2.5% of input), as derived from ICESat laser measurements of elevation change. The net gain (86 Gt/yr) over the West Antarctic (WA) and East Antarctic ice sheets (WA and EA) is essentially unchanged from revised results for 1992 to 2001 from ERS radar altimetry.
    —–
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/308/5730/1898.short
    Satellite radar altimetry measurements indicate that the East Antarctic ice-sheet interior north of 81.6°S increased in mass by 45 ± 7 billion metric tons per year from 1992 to 2003.
    —–
    http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/9/1555/2015/tcd-9-1555-2015.pdf
    Abstract: Six hundred and seven glaciers of the Shigar, Shashghan, Nubra and part of Shyok sub-basins of the Karakoram region were monitored using satellite data of years 1977, 1990, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. …. Despite significant geographic and temporal variability betraying the 10 dynamic nature of many of the glaciers, in aggregate the population is roughly stable with less propensity toward retreat than most other glaciers in the nearby Himalaya and in the world. 341 glaciers exhibited no measured change throughout the 36 years of the study. Among other glaciers, no significant and sustained pattern of retreat or advance was observed.
    Conclusion: The glaciers in our study area of the Karakoram include many advancing glaciers and many retreating ones, but most of the glaciers have remained nearly stable over several decades. A couple percent of the glaciers are surge types. There have been temporal changes in aggregate glacier behavior. Before 1990 the glaciers on average were either stable or retreating. In the last two decades Karakoram glaciers, on average, have experienced noticeable advances of their snouts and areas. The aggregate changes, 25 however, are small for every period considered.
    —–
    http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/9/1811/2015/tcd-9-1811-2015.pdf
    Abstract: Recent mass balance measurements indicate a slight mass gain at Muztag Ata in the Eastern Pamir [China]. We extend these measurements both in space and time by using remote sensing data and present four decades of glacier variations in the en- 5 tire mountain massif. … On average, the glaciers showed a small, insignificant shrinkage from 274.3 ± 10.6 km2 in 1973 to 272.7 ± 1.0 km2 in 2013 (−0.02 ± 0.1 % a−1 20 ). Average mass changes in the range of −0.03 ± 0.33 m w.e. a−1 (1973–2009) to −0.01 ± 0.30 m w.e. a−1 (1973–2013) reveal nearly balanced budgets for the last forty years. Indications of slightly positive trends after 1999 (+0.04 ± 0.27 m w.e. a−1 ) are confirmed by in-situ measurements.
    —–
    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shakil_Romshoo/publication/261436319_Are_the_Himalayan_glaciers_retreating/links/0a85e5343ff8061fd6000000.pdf
    Two thousand and eighteen glaciers representing climatically diverse terrains in the Himalaya were mapped and monitored. It includes glaciers of Karakoram, Himachal, Zanskar, Uttarakhand, Nepal and Sikkim regions. Among these, 1752 glaciers (86.8%) were observed having stable fronts (no change in the snout position and area of ablation zone), 248 (12.3%) exhibited retreat and 18 (0.9%) of them exhibited advancement of snout. The net loss in 10,250.68 sq. km area of the 2018 glaciers put together was found to be 20.94 sq. km or 0.2%.
    —–
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n5/full/ngeo1450.html
    http://etienne.berthier.free.fr/download/Gardelle_et_al_NatGeo_2012.pdf
    Slight mass gain of Karakoram glaciers in the early twenty-first century
    Here, we calculate the regional mass balance of glaciers in the central Karakoram [Himalayas] between 1999 and 2008, based on the difference between two digital elevation models. The regional mass balance is just positive at +0.11±0.22 m yr water equivalent and in agreement with the observed reduction of river runoff that originates in this area. Our measurements confirm an anomalous mass balance in the Karakoram region and indicate that the contribution of Karakoram glaciers to sea-level rise was −0.01 mm yr for the period from 1999 to 2008, 0.05 mm yr−1 lower than suggested before
    —–
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12517-010-0155-9
    Following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2001, a hype regarding the future of Himalayan glaciers, flooding of Indo-Gangetic plains and coastal areas and drying of glacially fed rivers has been created. However, the recent studies of some of the Himalayan glaciers indicate that the rate of recession of most of the glaciers in general is on decline. These observations are in contradiction to the widely popularized concept of anthropogenically induced global warming. It is believed that the rise of temperature of around 0.6°C since mid-nineteenth century is a part of decadal to centennial-scale climatic fluctuations that have been taking place on this Earth for the past few thousands of years.
    —–
    http://www.the-cryosphere.net/8/977/2014/tc-8-977-2014.html
    The present study utilizes different remote sensing-based methods to generate an updated glacier inventory for the entire Karakoram region. It provides a new comprehensive dataset on the state of advancing, stable, and retreating glaciers, including the temporal and spatial variations of frontal positions between 1976 and 2012.Out of 1219 glaciers in the inventory, the vast majority [79%] showed stable terminus positions (969). These findings support the assumption of the anomalous behavior of glaciers in the Karakoram in comparison to adjacent mountain ranges, which indicate glacier recession and thinning (Bolch et al., 2012; Hewitt, 2005; Gardelle et al., 2013; Kääb et al., 2012; Scherler et al., 2011). Glacier recession is found for only 8% of the glaciers in the inventory, indicating decreasing numbers since the beginning of the 21st century, whereas the number of advancing glaciers [13%] has increased since then. Considering the advance of small glaciers with assumed short response times of about 10–20 years, we conclude on a balanced/positive mass balance in the Karakoram since the 1980s or 1990s, or even earlier, induced by changing climatic conditions since the 1960s (Archer and Fowler, 2004; Bocchiola and Diolaiuti, 2013; Williams and Ferrigno, 2010; Yao et al., 2012).
    —–
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0435-3676.2005.00249.x/abstract
    Norway and New Zealand both experienced recent glacial advances, commencing in the early 1980s and ceasing around 2000, which were more extensive than any other since the end of the Little Ice Age. Common to both countries, the positive glacier balances are associated with an increase in the strength of westerly atmospheric circulation which brought increased precipitation. In Norway, the changes are also associated with lower ablation season temperatures. In New Zealand, where the positive balances were distributed uniformly throughout the Southern Alps, the period of increased mass balance was coincident with a change in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation and an associated increase in El Niño/Southern Oscillation events
    —–
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2006JD007407/abstract
    A comparison between these results and recent accumulation observations, together with the strong relationship between valley precipitation and snow accumulation, suggests that surface accumulation rates did not change significantly over the entire 20th century. Moreover, the small ice thickness changes, less than 3 m on the average, observed at Mont Blanc and Dôme du Goûter between 1905 and 2005 clearly reveal that these high-elevation glaciated areas have not been significantly affected by climate change over the last 100 years.
    —–
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00319.1
    [T]here was a warm period in the Arctic and Greenland in the 1920s and 1930s (Box 2002; Johannessen et al. 2004; Kobashi et al. 2011) at a time when anthropogenic global warming was relatively small (see, e.g., Fig. 9.5 ofHegerl et al. 2007). This promoted glacier mass loss at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere (e.g., Oerlemans et al. 2011) at a greater rate than the global mean. Although in L the difference is not striking in general (not shown; L includes 79 glaciers north of 60°N and 24 north of 70°N), it is pronounced in Greenland. Length records included in L indicate a greater rate of glacier retreat in the first than in the second half of the twentieth century in Greenland (Leclercq et al. 2012)
    —–
    http://www.the-cryosphere.net/8/659/2014/tc-8-659-2014.pdf
    The data set contains the glacier length records for 471 [global] glaciers and it covers the period 1535–2011. For the observed glaciers, the 20th century retreat was strongest in the first half of the 20th century.…. [T]he retreat is strongest in the period 1921–1960 rather than in the last period 1961–2000, with a median retreat rate of 12.5 m yr in 1921–1960 and 7.4 m yr in the period 1961–2000. [Glaciers melted 69% more rapidly from 1921-1960 than from 1961-2000.]
    —–
    http://www.the-cryosphere.net/2/117/2008/tc-2-117-2008.pdf
    These estimates show that the high surface mass loss rates of recent years are not unprecedented in the GrIS [Greenland Ice Sheet] history of the last hundred years. The minimum SMB rate seems to have occurred earlier in the 1930s and corresponds to a zero SMB rate….The results show that the GrIS surface mass loss in the 1930s is likely to have been more significant than currently
    —–
    http://www.biogeosciences.net/9/5391/2012/bg-9-5391-2012.pdf
    Sea surface temperature (Arctic Ocean) between ∼ AD 1885–1935 are warmer by up to 3°C with respect to the average modern temperature at the coring site. For the period ∼ AD 1887–1945, reconstructed sea ice cover values are on average 8.3 months per year which is 1.1 months per year lower than the modern [2012] values [9.4 months of sea ice cover per year].
    —–
    http://fiesta.bren.ucsb.edu/~dozier/Pubs/Chylek_2007JD008742.pdf
    ‘[T]he largest ice sheet surface melting probably occurred between 1920s and 1930s,concurrent with the warming in that period.

  28. Many glaciers are melting, and some may be melting faster than others. The climate has changed, and will always be changing. Such change will melt some, or even many, of the glaciers and expand others. For those receding glaciers that are key to our summer water sources, we should be planning now for alternative water solutions – such as building dams to capture the snowmelt runoff to be used after the glacier source of summer/fall water is gone. Adding a carbon tax, or even destroying the economy by completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels will do nothing to provide the needed water after such glaciers melt. Adaptation is important. It doesn’t matter what the cause of climate change is. Attempts to mitigate the effects of climate change through reductions in CO2 emissions are useless.

  29. I’m, as usual, still confused.
    Back to the WW2 military planes that were left as they crashed/landed on Greenland and were recovered (for posterity) at a depth that showed an ice accumulation of one foot per year. It seems that the downed planes attract more ice … to save the glaciers we need to deposit a plane about 2/3 of the way from the bottom of the impearled glaciers and just sit back and watch them grow.
    It is obviously a causation situation, who has the money to help me out with this plan?

    • Actually, I downloaded the study and there are 13 pages of content and 38 authors so that’s 0.34 pages per author. Probably took them several months as well.

      • Zemp wrote it – the others are data-suppliers or -analyzers and their authorship is nothing but an honorable mentioning. This badly, badly written paper is Zemp’s contribution for Paris 2015. Let a college-student read it and he will instantly take refuge in the sociology-department.
        You cannot find the following words in his paper: CO2, C (soot, et.), sun and climate-change. What is he posturing for like a statesman?
        Uncertainties are acknowledged and said (between the lines) to be important, but are not quantified; he hints at the need for closer attention to them, however:
        „In applications, the assessment of uncertainties is challenged by the lack of observational error estimates and by the small size of the glacier samples, which in addition are subject to shifting population effects. Thus these global and regional glacier change assessments have had to rely so far on basic uncertainty assumptions and some statistical considerations. As a consequence, the resulting error bars or confidence envelopes are often unrealistically small or large“.
        Whenever he made a statement like this he then waters it down, probably to not spoil the reputation of his trade.
        The only uncertainty-figure named is ice-density with uncertainty of +/- 14 % (60 kg). A cubic meter of ice might thus weigh between 790 and 910 kg.
        Zemp finally makes a long face. Recent data at http://wgms.ch/latest-glacier-mass-balance-data/ (up to 2015) do not support his pessimism.

  30. If glaciers did not recede at the end of the event we know as the LIA I’d be very concerned. It would indicate the climate is unstable and we would have cause to be very concerned. In fact they are receding and all is well.

  31. Many a researcher will pick through the once frozen flora being revealed from under a retreating glacier, take it back to the lab, and will end up with a research article that says we are experiencing catastrophic global warming at the hands of humans!!! They are ever so intelligent those researchers, don’cha think so?

  32. That is a ridiculous number of authors. I have noticed an increasing number of authors in these climate papers and I wonder if there is a reason behind it that has nothing to do with the actual work put into the research and article. There are many rewards for getting your name on a paper. More grant awards await you. If you are in a circle that wants to prove a point with not much ammo to use, there is strength in numbers. And it adds to the number of names who have drunk the cool-aid so reporters can say that X number of climate researchers say we are dead meat.
    Or, it could be that half those authors are actually pet lab mice.

    • Doesn’t Willis have a rule of thumb based on the number of authors? Something along the lines of the quality of a paper drops as the number of authors goes up, or there about?

    • Pamela, it gets better. The senior author allows an additional 38 authors. Each of these co-authors are then beholden to make this senior author a co-author on at least one of their subsequent publications. In no time, the senior author has at least 39 publications added to his CV. What a great club to be in!

  33. the “lets ignore some of these other growing glaciers” department

    This is really bad. If you want to be taken seriously you have to take scientific research seriously. You can’t say Oh, I know of this one glacier that’s expanding so I’ll just ridicule this comprehensive study of a large number of glaciers worldwide. It’s like saying Uncle Bob smoked and lived to be over 90 years old, but you don’t hear about that in all this research about tobacco being bad for you.

  34. In North-East Italy, there are few big glaciers, but many small-sized ones. All are constantly monitored, often since XIXth century. It is generally agreed that they are overall retreating since around 1850AD, after Little Ice Age ended. 3 main periods of retreat can as well be identified: second half of XIXth century, second quarter of XXth, last 30 years. But even the retreat is not monotonic: we have seen 2000-2004 stabilisation, 2005-2009 retreat, 2010-2014 even a little advancing (this year will mark a new retreat, unfortunately). They say “if the climate remains stable, many glaciers will continue to melt”: easy forecast, they are behaving (on average) this way since 165 years up to now! I think that two things in GW debate are totally non sense:
    – referring to “global warming” as a recent matter, since it began several decades ago and not 30 or 40 years ago;
    – alarming people for “never seen things” which, in truth, already happened, often several times, and we all survived.
    Because we have already experienced more than a century of global warming, we already have seen what it can do, and we already survived (and pretty well, I dare to say). But scaring people, that is what you can make money about (think about the amount of non sense or very low chance events, which are commercially exploited among people every day).

    • This is really key. Imagine some of the current well developed resort towns like Zermatt, if the retreats had not occurred. I would imagine these places were far less hospitable 165 years ago! There is no way such special and well crafted places could have existed under the past conditions. Now, instead, we ride lifts and trams to access the current glaciers, skiing down them (or upon them during summer). Quite a spectacular result.

      • Actually it can be easily proven that:
        – Middle Ages climate optimum (to tell the truth, mid Middle Ages) marked a period of great economical and demographic recover then expansion all over Europe and the Mediterranean, after the so-called “dark centuries” (early Middle Ages) and before the plagues and the climate cooling of early LIA (late Middle Ages); during these centuries, Alpine glaciers were at their minimum (many present glaciers formed only during LIA), Alpine passes were often snow-free for several months a year (many passes also today can be open 4-5 months a year, but the higher ones i.e. the Stelvio just because snowploughs clear them in late spring for tourism) and the Venice Lagoon never experienced major freezing events for at least a couple of centuries (I am not speaking about the worst events like 1709 only, but also events like jan1985, dec1996, dec2001-jan2002 and feb2012);
        – people survived pretty well also Little Ice Age, but life was on average pretty poor, above all in the mountain ranges (e.g. the Alps!) or Northern Europe (where indeed all states, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, tended to expand to warmer areas west or south) where demographic growth, often, simply stopped during certain decades in a row*.
        * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_England#Historical_population

  35. The Greenland ice cores beg to differ, unless in pseudoscience lower temperatures melt more ice today.
    http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4149/4994240435_b68b77ea6f_z.jpg
    Oh dear
    http://www.dmi.dk/en/groenland/maalinger/greenland-ice-sheet-surface-mass-budget/
    Increasing sea ice doesn’t support increasing glacial melting unless pseudoscience can make something up.
    http://notrickszone.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SH-Sea-Ice-Extent.jpg
    Cover about 99% of world’s land ice, so it must be the other 1% right?

    • The most recent datapoint on the Alley graph you posted is mislabeled, it’s actually 1855. Not quite sure why you think that’s relevant to the present day.

      • One of my major peeves is graphs which end at some undefined date, when the data at that point determines “The End of the World as We Know It”. They should really think about listing the end points of their data.

  36. In order to determine if rates of melting are indeed ‘unprecedented’ we need to look at the long-term record, not just the past couple of centuries. The best record is the GISP2 ice core and thousands of oxygen isotope measurements made by Stuiver and Grootes. These data show very clearly that from about 11,000 years ago to about 1500 years ago, temperatures in Greenland were 2-5 degrees F warmer than modern temperatures. (The same picture emerges from ice core temp data by Cuffy and by Alley–see post by Matt G above). About 1500 years ago, the climate cooled considerably and we entered the Little Ice Age with fluctuating periods of cooling and warming. Yes, we’ve warmed in recent centuries, but we haven’t yet thawed out from the Little Ice Age and still have a few degrees to go before we get back to ‘normal’ for the past 11,000 years. The recent warming is certainly not ‘unprecedented.’

    • Perhaps we need a new word that means data that covers too short a period to qualify for any precedent. “Co-cident?

  37. gather the manpower in
    Literatur:
    Zemp, Michael, Frey, H., Gärtner-
    Roer, I., Nussbaumer, S.U., Hoelzle,
    M., Paul, F., Haeberli, W.,
    Denzinger, F., Ahlstroem, A.P.,
    Anderson, B., Bajracharya, S.,
    Baroni, C., Braun, L.N., Caceres,
    B.E., Casassa, G., Cobos, G., Davila,
    L.R., Delgado Granados, H.,
    Demuth, M.N., Espizua, L., Fischer,
    A., Fujita, K., Gadek, B., Ghazanfar,
    A., Hagen, J.O., Holmlund, P.,
    Karimi, N., Li, Z., Pelto, M., Pitte, P.,
    Popovnin, V.V., Portocarrero, C.A.,
    Prinz, R., Sangewar, C.V.,
    Severskiy, I., Sigurdsson, O.,
    Soruco, A., Usubaliev, R., and
    Vincent, C. (2015): Historically
    unprecedented global glacier
    decline in the early 21st century.
    Journal of Glaciology.
    ____
    and gather the money spent.
    kind’a science makes more fun than working.
    ____
    could they find refuge in greenland –
    just asking, Hans

    • AUTHOR CONTRIBUTION STATEMENT
      M. Zemp designed, wrote and revised the manuscript. M. Zemp, H. Frey, and F. Denzinger analysed the data and designed the map, figures and tables. All co-authors contributed to the discussion and writing of the manuscript. The WGMS staff members compiled all data during period- ical calls-for-data that are coordinated by the National Correspondents within their countries.

  38. According to Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds (2012) Greenland and Antarctica lost 4260 billion tons of land-ice (= 0.14 ‰) in 20 years. That would make 213 000 000 000 tons every year (0.07 promille) of 30 428 571 428 571 400 t alltogether, if it were so. It could be 14 % more or less (ice-density variation) and he says that the melting-rate was higher towards the end – but it has been lower lately.
    If we keep exhaling CO2 at the present rate, say the prophets, the 30 quadrillion tons of ice will be gone in 142 855 years or so. I remember the figures 100 000 y for Greenland and 300 000 y for Antarctica being mentioned somwhere else.
    So, what am I supposed to do now?

  39. Such sensational reports were also presented in 1923.
    Himalayan Glaciers are not melting.
    Glaciers are affected by direct human actions and dry conditions prevaling in some parts as a part of natural cycle.
    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  40. Since 1750 it has been possible to analyse the temperature data and see that it contains cycles which together mean that only a comparison of over more than 300 years is meaningful. Can they tell us how it compares with the lowest over that period and if not then their science is junk.
    Science should not get into the public domain based purely on peer review. That should be only for internal consumption. If it is to be used to influence the public it should be first publicly examined for integrity by outside quality control examiners to look for the validity of presentation and any adjustments done on the data.

  41. As has been pointed out already, Alley’s GISP graph stops at 1855. The temperature of the firn at Summit is currently -29,8 C, which is above MWP, closing in on the Roman Warm Period.

      • Actually it doesn’t, since the vast majority of glaciers are not in balance today. In other words, if the temperatures stay at current levels the glaciers will keep retreating for quite a while until they are in balance again.

      • It takes a while for a forest to grow. Use your noggin. There is no growing forest there now – not yet. If it is warmer today than in the MWP then there would be a growing forest there now – use a little common sense.

  42. This paper was discussed on another website alluding to the possibility that the authors attributed glacier melting to “globally consistent climatic forcing.” For those who read the paper, is there any signal providing evidence of AGW as opposed to natural warming? Apparently, soot is a man-made contribution to glacier melting. But that is not AGW which to my understanding involves warming due to increases in IR absorbing gases and deforestation. Does the paper claim evidence that alleged glacier shrinkage is due to some discernable extent to AGW, not just any warming? I’m curious how the glaciers would know the difference.

    • “From the above observations, we conclude that the current decadal mean snow temperature in central Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability of the past 4000 years.”
      “We define an upper bound of the natural variability over the last 4000 years as the value (−28.7°C) derived from two standard deviations (2.0°C) above the average (−30.7°C) of Greenland temperatures over the period ”
      There is no evidence of AGW as opposed to natural warming in this paper. The main assumption is that if temperatures exceed those of the last 4000 years then it”s not due to natural variability. They don’t state why and this part is just pseudoscience.

  43. Gentle Tramp: Hi,
    There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to reply to all comments. Some times they put in a reply stamp, other times nothing. Thank you for your comments. As you say, I am 150% sold on climate change, but I’m not 150% sold on how to combat it. I have been against biofuel for 10 years. What a boon doggle! The Iowa farmers use more fuel than they produce. The German’s are a bit more efficient, they end up at net zero. I hate dams. My solution has always been to slow down economic growth. The Earth is finite and somehow mankind has to recognize that fact. Our civilization cannot sustain the relentlessly expanding economies, the same path of violent competition, continued depletion of resources, and the growing contribution to greenhouse gases.
    I’m very depressed by the thought that the only way that things will change is for humans to change. It’s not likely. The human brain is about 10,000 years behind his ability invent new tools. He will destroy himself before he changes. Too bad, it was a great experiment….
    Bob

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