Lessons Learned from My Failed Greenland Prediction and NOAA’s Shifting Goalposts


Guest Thread by Jim Steele

In December 2014, I posted the essay Will Greenland Begin Accumulating Ice in 2015 and Beyond. Based on 1) my understanding of Greenland’s icecap dynamics, 2) changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation and its effect on heat transport, and 3) NOAA’s 2014 Arctic Report Card indicating a rapid deceleration in loss of ice mass (an insignificant 6 gigatons Gt), I argued that Greenland could begin accumulating ice starting as early 2015. Ice mass loss can only happen if summer melt exceeds annual accumulation, or if greater basal melting of glaciers and iceberg calving increases glacier discharge and offsets accumulation. However the inflow of warm Atlantic water has been declining, and suggested basal melting and glacier discharge should be decreasing. Furthermore as the high pressure system that governs Greenland’s weather shifted, snow accumulation was once again exceeding summer melt, suggesting a reversion to the mean of 200 GT of net snow accumulation each year.

My prediction stood in stark contrast CO2 global warming projections of accelerated melting of Greenland ice. So I realized my prediction was risky, but based on natural climate dynamics, my prediction seemed very likely; if not in 2015, then in the very near future. I have always believed that making predictions (aka projections) are the best way to test the correctness of our understanding. Besides we often learn more by being wrong, because predictions can be “right” for the wrong reasons. On December 15th NOAA published their 2015 Arctic Report Card reported an increased “ice mass loss of 186 Gt over the entire ice sheet between April 2014 and April 2015” Although that loss was “22% below the average mass loss of 238 Gt for the 2002-2015 period” it was 6.4 times higher than the 29 Gt loss of the preceding 2013-2014 season.” Although my 2015 prediction failed, all the climate dynamics show a decelerating rate of loss and a high sensitivity to natural variability. Those trends still suggest an increase Greenland ice mass in the near future is more likely than ever.

Despite videos and alarmist suggestions from the NY Times that “Greenland is Melting Away”, Greenland’s Surface Mass Balance (SMB) has been increasing recently as seen in Figure 1 from the Danish Meteorological Society (DMI). Typically Greenland steadily accumulates mass from September to June until the summer solstice triggers 2+ months of melting. Despite that period of intensive melting, on average (dark black line) Greenland steadily accumulates a surface mass of 200 Gt of snow each year. That is why the “lost squadron” of WW2 bombers, forced to land in Greenland in 1942, were recently located beneath 260 feet of snow. Global warming hypotheses have suggested increasing warmth would increase the melt season, ultimately offsetting any accumulation as observed in 2011-2012. However as climate experts and NOAA’s report card suggest, it is the North Atlantic Oscillation that controls the melt season by affecting the position of a blocking high-pressure system around Greenland.


In 2011-2012 Greenland experienced an extreme heat wave that melted away that year’s accumulated snow (red curve in Fig. 1). As discussed in Hanna 2013, a blocking high-pressure system caused that heat wave (as is typical for most heat waves elsewhere). First dry descending air currents within a high-pressure system promote clear skies that increase insolation while suppressing convection that normally carries heat away. Second the location of a high-pressure system determines where and how much warm air is transported poleward and how much cold air is transported equatorward.

Unlike low-pressure storm systems that pass over a region relatively quickly, high-pressure systems resist movement and can remain stationary for weeks and months. During the periods of greater than average melting, the blocking high was centered over Greenland and pulled warm air masses from the south into western Greenland while blocking any cold air incursions from the north. Hanna 2013 concluded summer 2012 was “not really representative of the future climates projected by the CMIP5” climate models but “more likely resulted from natural variability” and the negative North Atlantic Oscillation. The recent events in Greenland should have provided the media an opportunity to inform the public about how extreme weather effects are driven by natural oscillations. Instead weather was sadly politicized to promote climate fear.

The same negative North Atlantic Oscillation also reduces the westerly winds that warm Europe during the winter. Accordingly Greenland’s heat waves were followed by extremely cold European winters. These rapid changes in extreme weather in Greenland and Europe have no direct connection to changes in radiative forcing from the sun or from CO2 (although studies suggest a solar connection). Greenland’s climate is far more sensitive to natural climate oscillations as suggested by NOAA’s reported changes in the melt season and illustrated in DMI’s Figure 2 below.

NOAA reported that the location of the high-pressure system shifted in 2015 relative to the summers of 2007-2012 during which time it was “persistently centered over the ice sheet” so that a southerly air flow brought warm air across the ice sheet. In the summer of 2015 the high-pressure was centered “over the north-central ice sheet in July” which again promoted warm, southerly airflow and enhanced melting. “On the other hand, in June and August 2015 the anomaly was centered over the Labrador Sea southwest of Greenland, which promoted the advection of cold air from the Arctic Ocean and reduced melting.”

In Figure 2 below the blue curve represents changes in the percentage of Greenland area undergoing melt and the black curve represents the average. When the High was centered over the Labrador Sea from May to mid June and from the end of July to September the extensiveness of the melt season was far below average. Only when the high-pressure system shifted to the center of Greenland in late June and early July was there any extensive melting. It would be silly to blame extensive melting in June on rising levels of CO2, when below average melting during all other months suggested no sensitivity to global warming.



NOAA’s Moveable Goal Posts


In NOAA’s 2014 report card they reported an insignificant 6 Gt loss of total mass between June 2013 and June 2014. This year they reported an increase to 189 Gt of total loss between April 2014 and April 2015. Because different start months experience different rates of snow accumulation and can not be compared directly, NOAA restated the 2014 ice loss now using an April start date and calculated a 5 fold higher ice loss of 29 Gt for 2014 than originally reported. Clearly the choice of monthly start dates significantly affects the estimates of annual ice mass that is presented to the public.

As seen in Figure 1 above, on average Greenland continues to gain ice from September to June, and then undergoes a melt season that ends about the first of September. Above average accumulation was observed from April to June 2015, and that would offset at least some of the calculated “annual” loss. Currently there has been above average accumulation since September 2015 (Fig. 1 blue curve). Logically the first of September would be the most objective choice to compare annual changes in net accumulation. So why bounce between April and June? A suspicious mind might suspect NOAA of cherry-picking the month in order to emphasize ice loss. I do not pretend to know their reasons for choosing April for the 2015 calculations. However if they were being objective and consistent then an April start date should have been consistently chosen in previous reports. Unfortunately NOAA’s annual comparisons have used various start dates that differ by 6 months. In NOAA’s 2013 Report Card they used the month of September, which maximized that year’s ice loss stating, “The rate of mass loss has accelerated during the period of observation, the mass loss of 367 Gt/y between September 2008 and September 2012 being almost twice that for the period June 2002-July 2006 (193 Gt/y).” I suggest NOAA publish the ice mass for every month so independent reviewers can develop consistent annual comparisons.

When discussing Surface Mass Balance NOAA used September start dates reporting, “The surface mass balance for September 2014 through September 2015 measured along the southwestern portion of the ice sheet at the K-transect was the third least negative since the beginning of the record in 1990; not since the 1991-1992 (when melting was low due to the Mount Pinatubo eruption) and 1995-1996 balance years has so little ice been lost. And that observation raises serious questions. How could NOAA calculate a 6-fold increase in total ice loss when 2015 experienced the least amount of ice lost since 1996? And how did using an April start and finish date affect their results. If the third least amount of ice was lost in the year 2014-15, and 2013-2014 registered a “negligible” 6 Gt loss in total mass, how did lost ice mass increase in 2015?

The only other possible explanations are there must have been greater loss of mass elsewhere. But lost surface mass seems unlikely as the K-transects has been deemed a good proxy for the continent and according to the DMI, overall surface mass balance increased by 200 Gt. That is slightly below the 1990-2013 average but most definitely there was no net loss due to increased melting.

Marine Terminating Glaciers

The only other possible cause for NOAA’s increased loss of mass in 2015 would be a greater rate of basal melt, iceberg calving and glacial retreat. However the data does not readily support that possibility either. In past decades the fraction of retreating glaciers had steadily increased from 49% in the 1970s to 89% by 2010 (Howat 2011). As previously discussed here, the shift to the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation should result in an initial acceleration of glacier retreat due to a greater flow of warm Atlantic water directed towards Greenland. However eventually that inflow declines and the trend reverses. Indeed of the glaciers reported by NOAA only 45% were in retreat this the past year. That is slightly lower than the 1970s percentage. NOAA stated, “Between the end of the 2014 melt season and the end of the 2015 melt season, 22 of the 45 glaciers had retreated, but the advance of 9 relatively wide glaciers resulted in a low 1-year net area loss of -16.5 km2. This is the lowest annual net area loss in the 16-year period of observations (1999-2015) and 7.7 times lower than the annual average area change trend of -127 km2”[Emphasis mine]. This year’s loss is only 5% of the peak area retreat in 2011-2012. Of course an increase in glacial area may not translate into increased mass if glaciers thinned as their area increased. But it stills seems unlikely that there was an increased mass loss. Hopefully NOAA can clarify these inconsistencies.

In conclusion, whatever the final determination of the true total mass change for 2015 may be, it is clear that that there is no longer an acceleration of Greenland mass loss. All evidence supports a deceleration. The 189 Gt estimate of total ice loss was still “22% below the average mass loss of 238 Gt for the 2002- 2015.” The rapid decelerating rate of loss for glacier area was the lowest in the past 16 years. Transect K experienced the lowest loss of surface mass since the 1990s. And changes in both the melt season and glacier basal melting appear to be primarily under the control of the North Atlantic Oscillation and its affect on atmospheric and ocean circulation. If the current reduction in solar irradiance remains low and reduces the poleward flow of ocean heat in the Gulf Stream similar to the reduction estimated during low solar irradiance of the Little Ice, Greenland should begin accumulating mass in the very near future.


Jim Steele is Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism



89 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from My Failed Greenland Prediction and NOAA’s Shifting Goalposts

  1. On December 15th NOAA published their 2015 Arctic Report Card reported an increased “ice mass loss of 186 Gt over the entire ice sheet between April 2014 and April 2015” Although that loss was “22% below the average mass loss of 238 Gt for the 2002-2015 period” it was 6.4 times higher than the 29 Gt loss of the preceding 2013-2014 season.” Although my 2015 prediction failed, … .

    Why do you trust NOAA?
    (See, e.g., “it appears NOAA overcooked their “improvements”… .
    Bob Tisdale, here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/19/noaa-releases-new-pause-buster-global-surface-temperature-data-and-immediately-claims-record-high-temps-for-may-2015-what-a-surprise/ )

    • “Why do you trust NOAA?”
      Excellent question. On the subject of CAGW, NOAA and NASA have demonstrated complicity.
      (We all often do what our bosses tell us to. It happens.)

      • Maybe that is why i and some of my workmates haven’t moved up the corporate ladder and are viewed as being negative when they come up with some wizzo wonderful plan to make everything brilliant!
        James Bull

    • By eyeballing the Figure 1 and calculating the annual change in ice mass NOAA increased the loss by a minimum of 100 Gt. Aussume that by the end of the melt season ablation removes all the accumulated snow as it did in 2011-2012. That means the start date would be irrelevant and the annual accumulation of mass would be solely determined from September to what ever month is chosen. Accumulated mass from September to April is about 450 Gt. Accumulated mass by June 2015 is slightly over 550 Gt.Total mass is determined by subtracting dynamic loss from calving glaciers, which is episodic. Assuming no change in calving between April in June, by choosing April date NOAA potentially increased the mass loss by 100 GT. If not all of 2014 accumulation is ablated, choosing April would further bias the loss upward.

      • Start and endpoint dates are important if the annual variability on initial and final dates, and initial and final melt (or accumulation) dates are some gross amount (gross, not %, as the quantum, not proportion, is being elevated as a sign of CAGW).
        The start of winter is different from the start of summer. The processes are initiated differently and the magnitude, controlled differently. That is why endpoints matter. All of us know that from the “in like a lamb, out like a lion” adage of our grandparents. Consistency is not what we expect during even one winter cycle.
        I think your point of having monthly change data is pertinent. Then we could see the extent of natural variability and even – perish the thought – eliminate it from consideration just as we (attempt to) do with the various temperature datasets.

  2. In the current era of politicized government science, NOAA’s ice data is like it’s temp data needs to viewed with much suspicion. Besides the annual timelines that we are considering are far too short to indicate true climatic century-long trends. What we see even on a decadal basis is likely just cycles. What we see on annual numbers is noise.

  3. Have you looked at the GRACE data?
    these gravity data are available from 2002 to present.
    the GRACE mass balance shows that both the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets have been steadily but very slowly (un-alarmingly) losing mass over this entire period but with a very interesting difference. The difference is that while the Greenland mass loss can be attributed to surface temperature, the Antarctica mass loss has no relationship to surface temperature. Please take a look. I would be very interested in your comments.

    • As planet Earth is currently in an interglacial of the Pleistocene glacial of the last 3 My, I would expect all large ice sources to be slowly losing mass on a century long scale. The millenial long trend though is gain of ice if one considers that Greenland must have been substantially different when Norse colonies were there 800 years ago. That suggests that on a multimillenial-scale, the interglacial may be in its final act.

    • More than any other mission I can recall, GRACE had “growing pains”. At first, the data was noisy/bad, then the data was opposite of what was expected. Calibration runs would have wrong slopes, or fail validation, on and on. This is scary, because gravity is pretty basic stuff. At one point, it was contemplated to declare “Loss of Mission”.
      Then, all of a sudden, without fanfare or explanation, GRACE is churning out all these great results, with no effort at all. Just another day at the office.
      This in itself is suspicious enough, and NOAA has demonstrated that it can no longer be trusted. Unfortunately, I would have to discount GRACE altogether.

      • A bit like ARGO.
        Initially, ARGO returned data suggesting that the oceans were cooling. That was contrary to the expectations and the preconceived bias.
        The solution was simply to delete the buoys that were showing the greatest trend of cooling. Hey presto, ARGO was now showing the oceans to be warming.
        If there had been no entrenched bias, the correct approach would have been to take a random sample of the buoys showing the greatest trend in cooling, and a random sample of the buoys showing the greatest trend in warming and return them to the laboratory for testing.
        It was never ascertained whether there was any genuine instrument error or calibration problem. If such a problem truly existed, it was never ascertained whether this was a two way street, ie., equipment error/faults led to both false cooling and false warming. After all, if there was genuine equipment error, why would it only work in one direction.
        The failure to test ARGO and establish a cause for the initial and unexpected cooling, and the sledge hammer approach of simply deleting/removing the buoys that showing the greatest trend in cooling from the record without establishing that there was real equipment failure/error, undermines the reliability of ARGO data.

      • NOAA’s Data Analysis Method:


        Richard Verney! (great comment overall, too)
        ……to……….. maintain its…………..
        “magical heateristical hotterism” “finding”

    • Jamal I see you wrote that paper so perhaps you can help me out. It was GRACE data that determined Greenland’s lost mass was only a negligible 6 GT in 2014 and NOAA referenced Velicogna and Wahr 2006. This year’s estimate by GRACE referenced Velicogna 2014. I only briefly scanned the recent paper but it was not clear if there was a new model with different adjustments used to adjust the 2015 data. Do you know? GRACE data can not be discussed without knowing what models were used to make adjustments.
      As we discussed regards Zwally’s new paper suggesting Antarctica is gaining mass, the validity of Antarctic data depends on GIA and other adjustments, which depend on the correct glacial history as well as estimates of viscosity. A wide variety of ice mass estimates have been published. http://landscapesandcycles.net/antarctic-climate-change-all-natural-.html
      Because Greenland is 7 times smaller, adjustments will have a smaller impact.on total mass than Antarctica. Nonetheless I need to thoroughly analyze how Greenland’s adjustments are determined. Do they assume it is still rebounding from the last Glacial Maximum? Glaciers like the JAkobshavn had retreated far more than today prior to the LIttle Ice Age. So the LIA would have caused a subsidence. How does that affect the GIA models?

    • There are two issues. First, as already noted, GRACE had ‘growing pains’. And now is deteriorating at end of mission. They had to swap lead/lag, for example. Second, GRACE ice mass estimates depend on GIA corrections. For Antarctica, these were modeled until differential GPS measurements first became available in 2013. Turns out the modeled GIA was far too high, resulting in much more ‘GRACE estimated’ ice mass loss than when observed GIA is used with the same GRACE data. Climate Audit recently had a long post covering the details.

  4. “That is why the “lost squadron” of WW2 bombers, forced to land in Greenland in 1942, were recently located beneath 260 feet of snow.”
    So 260 feet of snow melt would get us back to the Greenland’s snow levels of the 1930’s and 40’s? 260 feet of snow accumulation in around 80 years and we are worried about it all melting? Maybe Greenland may live up to its name some day again. Looking at this much accumulation in just 80 years, We can speculate glaciers could even return in that amount of time.

    • No. Snow is constantly falling on an annual basis. Those planes would always be buried, the key is how fast. There is always mass addition to the interior, loss at the edges. Those kinetics and their differences between rate of addition and rate of loss are the key, not absolute numbers of depth.

      • What I want to know, in absolute numerical terms, is – is Greenland currently gaining or losing bombers?

      • joelobryan

        No. Snow is constantly falling on an annual basis. Those planes would always be buried, the key is how fast. There is always mass addition to the interior, loss at the edges. Those kinetics and their differences between rate of addition and rate of loss are the key, not absolute numbers of depth.

        Not really. The ONLY Greenland glaciers (ice mass) that can “flow” downhill to the sea are the short, limited volume glaciers AROUND the edge of the Greenland land mass BETWEEN the ring of mountains and the sea.
        Inland, the INLAND ice cap is trapped from outward expansion by the thousands of feet of mountain peaks between them and the sea.
        thus, from west to east, you have 20-50 km of glaciers flowing “downhill” towards the west coast, some of whom flow out over the Denmark strait waters and
        melt from underneath as the paper indicates. But NOT all! And these glaciers “start” at the mountain peaks and passes at 1500 foot to 3000 foot elevation. NONE extend “over the passes” into the interior of Greenland. The west coast Greenland mountains trap the bottom of the west side of the interior ice mass. IT CANNOT flow west over these western barrier mountains and then to the sea. Instead, the interior ice mass rises gradually from the mountains passes over a 300 to 400 kilometer distance as the inland ice rises from the mountain valleys up to a “peak” in the center at 2000 meters (7000 feet above sea level) where this slow rise reaches a maximum at mid-island (at such a slow rate that “flow downhill” is realistically impossible), then slopes down to the east coast mountain ranges. One that side, once this inland ice hits the east coast mountains as they rise from the subsea floor of Greenland, the interior ice is AGAIN trapped by the east coast mountains. AGAIN, it cannot flow through the east coast mountain passes, and so cannot flow towards the east coast waters and eventually towards the waters around Iceland.
        The east coast glaciers, like their west coast brothers, DO FLOW east into the waters. They, like their brothers flowing west, are 20-50 kilometers longs, but contain very little of the total mass of the Greenland ice.
        To illustrate poorly. If, the Mississippi Valley were filled with ice to an elevation of 7000 feet, that ice could NOT down flow towards the Atlantic coast – it is trapped by the 3000 – 4000 foot high Appalachian Mountains on the east. It could NOT flow west to the Pacific because it is trapped by the higher Rocky Mountains and Sierra Madre’s to the west. In the US, the trapped ice “could” flow south to the Gulf of Mexico, but Greenland’s mountains ring the entire island. The central ice cannot flow north or south either.
        ONLY these short length, low mass, coastal glaciers behave as the papers assumes and lose mass to the sea. The interior is trapped, and cannot flow out.

      • RACook,
        The interior bathtub filled up long ago. The weight of the ice and its ability to deform places a maximum verticle height on how high the ice can attain, also governed by how much melt wtaer flows to thebedrock in the summer. The excess water and ice must outflow to the sea. The multidecadal-century kinetics are what governs what the Greenland mass balance will be in 2100, 2200, 3015, …. What we have today based on a dozen years of GRACE is mostly just noise waiting for much more integrations for the signal to be seen.

    • “260 feet of snow accumulation in around 80 years”
      Does that really mean 260 feet of snow? My gut feel is anything that’s heavier (and darker) than ice might sink a bit too? Ice flows (or is that floes?) OR it was several times that amount and was compressed over time. Any thoughts?

    • This assumes the burial of the “lost squadron” was due only to snow accumulation. Couldn’t the weight of the planes have melted the ice under them, resulting in their sinking into the ice?

      • interesting-
        “Also, Jonathan Brombley (Paisley, UK) pointed out (Creation20(2):5, March 1998):
        It is true that the pressures involved would not cause the planes to descend through the ice but there is a simpler and more visual way to determine whether this has happened or not. To attain forward directional stability, aircraft must have their centre of mass ahead of what is termed their ‘aerodynamic center’. The centre of mass is moved forwards by siting engines and other heavy elements towards the front and adding control surfaces such as tail fins whose surface area pulls the aerodynamic centre to the rear. A simpler equivalent is the arrow (weight in the nose, flights at the rear) which attains forward directional stability by the same means.
        The consequence is that, barring control mechanisms acting, an arrow or aircraft will pitch forward and fall nose-down when allowed to fall freely through a medium—whether air, water or ice. So if the aircraft had indeed moved through the ice, they would all have been found in the same nose-down position. They were not.
        So the planes could not have sunk through the ice; they were buried by the accumulation of snow (which becomes ice as it is compacted).”

  5. Could increasing snow mass produce accelerated glacial calving, so that the total mass balance decreases even though precipitation has increased? Are Greenland dynamics well-enough understood to know whether this is a possibility?
    According to NOAA, more Greenland glaciers have sped up than have slowed down, meaning more calving. Their assessment: “Over the [2001-2014] 14-year period, 13 glaciers slowed but only 8 slowed more than 100 m yr^-1. Increasing speed is much more common, with 50 glaciers speeding up, 45 speeding up >100 m yr^-1, and 17 reaching speeds in 2013-2014 that are at least 1,000 m yr-1 faster than 2000-2001.
    NOAA goes on to say that these changes, “ are consistent with modeling studies examining the influence of the warming ocean and air temperatures on the Greenland Ice Sheet (Nick et al. 2013).
    However, Nick, et al. is purely a climate modeling study, and climate models produce physically meaningless simulations of climate. They are very far from able to produce unique solutions to the problem of the climate energy state.
    This is why NOAA used the words “consistent with rather than ‘demonstrated by.’
    Diagnostic overview: no knows what they’re talking about.
    Also, just to say, a down bomber on an ice surface will melt the ice beneath due to pressure melting. This will cause the bomber to sink slowly into the snow, even if there is no precipitation. How long it’ll take for the bomber to disappear beneath the surface in the absence of precipitation is a relevant qualifier.

    • Pat, Depending on the size of the glaciers and if it terminates in the ocean and at what depth, changes in a glaciers grounding point 5 20 100 years ago, can cause accelerated movement today. Indeed greater accumulation can also create more downslope pressure and accelerate movement. You are correct to note that NOAA’s claim that acceleration is just “consistent” with global warming. It is consistent with many climate dynamics. MOre observations, healthy debate and the perusal of many minds will eventually determine the actual causes.

      • Could it be that as the land rises after the last ice age, that there is accumulation of water being tipped out lubing up the glaciers? Is ice firm at the ground ice interface at that temperature and under kilometres of ice pressure?

    • Pat Frank

      Also, just to say, a down bomber on an ice surface will melt the ice beneath due to pressure melting. This will cause the bomber to sink slowly into the snow, even if there is no precipitation. How long it’ll take for the bomber to disappear beneath the surface in the absence of precipitation is a relevant qualifier.

      Nice try, but it (regelation) simply doesn’t work for airplanes on a thick ice surface.
      Yes, a HEAVY (solid metal) block with a LARGE weight to surface area ratio would pass down through the ice that way.
      An airplane is completely the opposite. Very, very large surface area of “near-hollow” tanks, wings, and open volume. Very, very large free surface under the wings, horizontal stabilizer, engine pods, and fuselage touching the ice surface – and a very, very low weight.
      The aircraft set down on the ice BECAUSE the planes were nearly out of fuel! (No extra weight such as bombs, fuel, cargo, guns, or ammo belts.) The planes were set down gently and most (nearly all) landed properly, so even if the wheels sank down a little (their tires would not act like heavy blocks of metal), they would stop “sinking” after 3 foot landing gear passed into the ice. Then they would “float” on the ice near indefinitely with the wings and body supported from below. The airplane mass nearly instantly becomes as cold as the ice surface.

      • Just some FYI about Glacier Girl
        “GE Aviation Lecture — From the Ice, Back to Life: The Incredible Resurrection of “Glacier Girl”

        — I recommend going to ~ 5:00 — where main lecture begins (Bob Cardin)
        — At ~30:00 — you will hear him mention going back in 1992 (?) after 2 years during which 40 feet of snow had fallen…
        — From about 41:00 on, it is about shipping plane and then, restoration.
        The lecture is pretty dry, but…. if you know anything about how deeply it hurt those pilots to have to walk away and leave “the old girl,” (akin to the feeling a ship’s captain has at abandoning a ship — it is devastating, believe me), bearing that in mind will make a lecture about going back to get even just one, “Glacier Girl,” and bring her home… much less dry. (eyes, too)
        Love is the strongest force in the world: love is, at bottom, the only reason “Glacier Girl” flew again. When you love someone (thing), you will move heaven and earth to find her/him (it). Many, many, volunteer hours were given. The love of people (yes, it is mostly men, but there are women who do, too, so…) for their machines… . It is a beautiful thing.

  6. All reports I can find on the lost squadron recovery say 260 feet of ICE, not snow. They didn’t just have to dig through snow to get them out, they had to CHISEL away the ice.

  7. a. To predict (a result or an event) without sufficient information.
    b. To assume, presume, or assert (a fact) without sufficient information.
    The Free Dictionary defines the above as a “guess”.
    We’re all guessing aren’t we ?
    Things could go either way, and they will.

  8. “Unlike low-pressure storm systems that pass over a region relatively quickly, high-pressure systems resist movement and can remain stationary for weeks and months.”
    That’s the thing. AKA the ridiculously resilient ridge and “blocking” highs in general. What anchors those rascals? The Rossby waves are content to continue their west to east progression, opposite the sun, and suddenly they stop, anchored by one (or a system?) of blocking highs obsessed by something. Like a dog suddenly frozen by some intriguing smell.
    Apologies to Milankovitch, but you understand why that happens, and you will know the difference between glacials and interglacials.

      • Just that the last glacial was the statistical analogue of the last few years with a blocking high over SW North America and arctic outbreaks over the Northeast. this resulted in significant continental ice accumulations down past 40 degrees North in NE North America but nowhere within ten degrees of that anywhere else on earth.

    • Yes, this year is different. No high pressure off the Canadian west coast. No Hudson Bay low. Weather systems moving eastward unobstructed in a zonal weather pattern, all in a period of decreasing solar activity.
      Is it El Nino? Or does decreasing solar activity favor a zonal weather pattern? No need to jump to conclusions, but it is interesting. And for me, counter-intuitive.

      • The Russians have kept an index of zonal vs meridional flow since 1891 they call the Arctic Circulation Index.
        The data are kept by Dr. V.V. Ivanov
        from Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), St.-Petersburg
        L.B. KLYASHTORIN, A.A. LYUBUSHIN (2007) claim this index follows a quasi 60 year periodicity like many other climate phenomena. Many climate indices seem to have their own 60 year periodicity independent and out of phase with the others. Wierd.
        Whether or not the periodicity is valid there are clearly periods of predominantly zonal and predominantly meridional flow.
        Very likely the meridional flows are fostered by blocking highs.
        Here we are right back to wondering what anchors the blocking highs. Generally, warming favors zonal flow and cooling meridional so nino might be in play. Same with a weak sun for meridional.

  9. Jamal Munshi December 16, 2015 at 6:35 pm
    “the GRACE mass balance shows that both the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets have been steadily but very slowly (un-alarmingly) losing mass over this entire period”
    Greenland’s gravitational anomaly may not be entirely due to the ice mass loss. Magnetic anomalies for the larger area, considered to be due to changes in the thermal convection flow deep inside the liquid core, also show rapid decline in the western hemisphere, going back many decades. To the contrary, the central Siberia shows opposite trend. The average of two shows high correlation with the Arctic’s temperature anomaly (as shown in this graph I did few years back)

      • Calculation: Greenland area is 6/1000 of the oceans. 4 meters of losses on Greenland will give the gain of 0,0025 or 25 mm in the ocean.
        If that is 10% total rise is 25 cm during 110 Years.
        If that is 18% total rise is 14 cm during 110 Years.
        Se also Jim Steels answer below.

      • Opt:
        Quick Atlas check indicates earth sea area @ 360,000,000 sq km & Greenland ice sheet @ 1,710,000 sq km (80% of Greenland land area). 1,710,000/360,000,000=0.00475
        I think the ‘Total Rise’ figures in your post should be reduced by 20% (i.e. your back the envelope calc is accurate if you assume 100% of Greenland land area has glaciers).

    • Thanks for the link to that new paper. Abstract offers interesting points. They suggest the dynamic loss due to glacier calving and thinning has been steady for the past 110 years, and for most of the century Greenland has been losing 75 gigatonnes/year. We could argue that loss is due to natural warming since the LIA. From 2003-2010 they see an increase ice loss.due to a drop in surface mass balance, and as the shifts in high pressure systems suggest that loss can be mostly attributed to weather.
      From their abstract
      “We estimate the total ice mass loss and its spatial distribution for three periods: 1900–1983 (75.1 ± 29.4 gigatonnes per year), 1983–2003 (73.8 ± 40.5 gigatonnes per year), and 2003–2010 (186.4 ± 18.9 gigatonnes per year). Furthermore, using two surface mass balance models10,11 we partition the mass balance into a term for surface mass balance (that is, total precipitation minus total sublimation minus runoff) and a dynamic term. We find that many areas currently undergoing change are identical to those that experienced considerable thinning throughout the twentieth century. We also reveal that the surface mass balance term shows a considerable decrease since 2003, whereas the dynamic term is constant over
      the past 110 years.”

  10. Jim Steele:
    A great essay. Thankyou.
    Your essay is a ‘progress report’ on your real science and is both interesting and informative. Please keep us informed of future developments of your fascinating understanding of Greenland ice dynamics.
    Real science is always interesting, and your essay is an interesting report of real science.
    You report your method and your understanding which generated your prediction.
    You compare your prediction to the observed reality which occurred.
    You report difficulties obtained in making the comparison (e.g. NOAA’s Moveable Goal Posts).
    You assess in what ways your prediction was ‘right’ and was ‘wrong’.
    You amend your understanding (i.e. Greenland ice loss did not cease in 2015 but will “in the very near future”.
    Clearly, that change from 2015 to an unspecified “very near future” is a large ‘climb down’, but that is how real science progresses: a researcher has sufficient humility to admit failure and to learn from it. It is a very stark contrast to the pseudoscience of the climastrologists whose predictions have all been wrong but they refuse to admit it.

  11. A look at the Arctic sea ice graphs for longer timer periods:
    will make the current Arctic sea ice alarm look rather foolish. On top of that, the satellites measurements of sea ice between 1973-1978 that the IPCC SAR 1995 WG1 p. 150:
    acknowledged and analyzed, show massive cherry picking by the alarmists today. Mysteriously, the knowledge of these satellite measurements seem to have gone missing.

  12. Jim Steele says:

    I argued that Greenland could begin accumulating ice starting as early 2015.

    I have not looked at Greenland but Arctic sea-ice shows a fairly strong anti-correlation at 1 year lag, ie it has a strong 2y cyclic tendency. Probably our old friend the QBO again. Your comment is probably correct in the longer view but best to avoid making yearly predictions.
    As for longer term, here is adaptive anomaly for Arcitc sea-ice area. The longer term trend was already showing deceleration for 2007-2012 period and seems to be showing sustained recovery since. This is why the alarmists have not been talking about the Arctic for the last few years. They are now desperately trying to detraction attention to the opposite end of the planet.
    Description of the method here:

  13. “If the current reduction in solar irradiance remains low and reduces the poleward flow of ocean heat in the Gulf Stream similar to the reduction estimated during low solar irradiance of the Little Ice, Greenland should begin accumulating mass in the very near future.”
    The reverse. The coldest parts of the Dalton and Gleissberg solar minima for Europe had a warm AMO and increased negative NAO (like summers 2007 and 2012) which means a warmer Arctic region.

  14. “First dry descending air currents within a high-pressure system promote clear skies that increase insolation while suppressing convection that normally carries heat away. ”
    That is what causes the surface temperature for Earth to be about 33K warmer than that predicted from the radiation only S-B equation.
    At any given moment 50% of the surface of Earth is beneath descending air.

  15. Earlier there was a reference to the disposal of the inconvenient ARGO float data.
    And it lead me to look up the topic, again.
    I have just found this quite shocking article on the NASA earthobservatory website.
    They seem quite proud of their motivated thinking and confirmation bias.
    This essay should be recorded for posterity, so that it can be included in textbooks under the title;
    “How the junk science of the early 21st century warped data to fit with preconceptions”.
    I’m pretty sure that Feynman would have been happy to tear this to shreds, were he still around.
    We need him now more than ever – because this is not science – this is worse than a bad joke.

    • Similar to the geothermal activity in West Antarctica. The same kind of geothermal activity that has been identified in 3 studies in the last 2 years and is conveniently ignored in almost all articles by the MSM when discussing loss of ice on that continent.
      Thanks for the link.

    • You raise a good point, and in addition to any heat contribution, I would be interested in how much Greenland’s thinner mantle effects viscosity estimates and Glacial Isostatic Rebound models.

  16. I was alarmed to read in today’s Daily Telegraph that November 2015 was the warmest on record worldwide and that the year ending in September 2015 saw the highest Arctic temperatures on record. Alarmed that is until i noticed the source in each case was the NOAA.
    Surely the Arctic Ice is due a Nobel prize nomination for outstanding courage in not only withstanding such sizzling temperatures but actually managing to recover!
    As per usual, I assume none of these bold assertions are concurred with by either RSS or UAH.

  17. D. Diemand, Coriolis, Shoreham, VT, USA Copyright ^ 2001 Academic Press doi:10.1006/rwos.2001.0002
    Northern Regions
    In general, the mean size of icebergs in Baffin Bay is about 60 m height, 100 m width and 100 m draft. Mean mass is about 5 to 10 Mt. The sizes of icebergs in this area are constrained by the water depth near the calving fronts, which is less than 200 m. Icebergs with a mass greater than 20 Mt are extremely rare, and for those found south of 60N, a mass greater than 10 Mt is seldom found.

    1 gigaton = 1000 megaton so 189 Gt of total loss between April 2014 and April 2015.
    189,000 Mt total loss / 10 Mt high ave size = 18,900 icebergs created.
    Anybody seen all of them?

  18. Why does ice mass / volume at Greenland / Antarctica matter?
    Most of the volume is historic stuff several km down whose persistence is more a function of underlying geothermal activity than climate several km above.
    What matters to climate in the atmosphere is what happens at the surface.
    What is the temperature? Is seasonal sea ice increasing or decreasing?
    There is a phenomenon in climate science currently one could call “fleeing in terror from Karl Popper”.
    This means that the earth’s warming increasingly is being claimed to occur in places that are the most difficult – or ideally even impossible – to measure. These include
    – the deepest ocean
    – Greenland ice volume kilometers below the surface
    – Antarctic ice volume kilometers below the surface
    – Central ocean basins like the Pacific far away from where anyone lives
    The climate that matters to the biosphere is where the biosphere is.
    On the main landmass surfaces and not at the poles.

  19. The PDO entered its 30-yr cool cycle in 2008 and already the Western Arctic sea ice extent is very close to the 1980~2010 average size for this time of year, even with the 3rd largest El Niño in 65 years in effect:
    The Eastern Arctic ice extent is still below the 30-year average, but has been recovering since the 30-year AMO warm cycle hit its peak in 2007.
    As the AMO approaches the start of its 30-year cool cycle from around 2020, it seems very likely Arctic Ice Extents and Greenland land ice will continue to recover…
    It should be VERY interesting to see what happens to Arctic Ice Extents and Greenland land ice over the next 5 years.
    It’ll be hilarious to see what new ad hoc excuses the alarmist concoct to explain away their utter failure of polar ice projections (and all other failed projections for that matter)….

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