Greenland Endures

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Charles the Moderator has been doing a fantastic job of keeping WUWT humming along, and deserves everyone’s thanks. Today he sent me an interesting article thinking I might want to comment on it. It has the usual kind of alarmist headline, viz:

Greenland lost 11 billion tons of surface ice in one day

YIKES! EVERYONE PANIC!

Now, I’ve gotta admit that that sounds like a lot of ice, eleven billion with a “b” tonnes melted in one single day. However, I’m a tropical boy, so I’m kinda prejudiced in these matters. Here’s my conflict of interest statement. When I’m in a place where the ice jumps up out of my adult beverage and starts running around the landscape, I consider that to be “water behaving badly” whether it’s one cube or eleven billion tonnes, and I try to avoid such locations … but I digress.

To return to the question, is eleven billion tons of ice really a big number or not?

Well, to start with, it’s a one-day loss in the warmest part of the year. Snow builds up on the ice sheet in the winter, and melts, sublimates, and is lost in icebergs in the summer. So this one-day loss tells us very little about the longer-term changes, what is called the “mass balance” of an ice sheet over an entire year or a longer period.

So what is happening in the longer term? A source for some information on this question is the Polar Portal. There’s a good article to start with, the annual report for 2018. (It also has an interesting article on the various phenomena involved in the mass balance here.)

Let me start with a look at the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet since 1972. Here’s that data.

Figure 1. Annual mass balance showing the gain or loss of the total mass of the Greenland ice sheet.

From that data, we find that the 1981 – 2010 thirty-year average mass balance for the Greenland ice sheet was a net loss of 103 billion tonnes. Again, this is a very large number, it seems like a big deal that would demand our attention … but is it really?

In order to ask the question “How big is 103 billion tonnes?”, we have to ask a related question:

“Compared to what?”

In this case, the answer is, “Compared to the total amount of ice on Greenland”.

Here’s one way of looking at that. We can ask, IF Greenland were to continue losing ice mass at a rate of 103 billion tonnes per year, how long would it take to melt say half of the ice sheet? Not all of it, mind you, but half of it. (Note that I am NOT saying that extending a current trend is a way to estimate the future evolution of the ice sheet—I’m merely using it as a way to compare large numbers.)

To answer our question if 103 billion tonnes lost per year is a big number, we have to compare the annual ice mass loss to the amount of ice in the Greenland ice sheet. The Greenland ice sheet contains about 2.6E+15 (2,600,000,000,000,000) tonnes of water in the form of snow and ice. 

So IF the Greenland ice sheet were to lose 103 billion tonnes per year into the indefinite future, it would take about twelve thousand five hundred years to lose half of it …

And even if the loss were to jump to ten times the long-term average, it would still take twelve hundred years to melt half the ice on the Greenland ice sheet. Even my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren won’t live long enough to see that.

However … there has been no big trend in mass losses in Greenland. As you can see in the graph above, it went down starting in 1980 but has generally risen since about 2010 … go figure.

Let me close with another way to visualize the mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet using two graphs. The first graph shows the cumulative loss over the forty-six year period of the record. This is how it would commonly be shown.

Figure 2. Cumulative mass balance showing the cumulative gain or loss of the total mass of the Greenland ice sheet.

It’s shown that way because, well, it looks pretty scary. It looks like the ice sheet is about to disappear.

By contrast, here’s a more honest way to display the loss, by showing not the annual or cumulative anomalies, but instead showing the changes in the total mass of the Greenland ice sheet:

Figure 3. Changes in the total mass of the Greenland ice sheet.

Not as scary, huh?

As a result, I’d say that there’s no need to worry about Greenland at this time. As Sanjeev Sabhlok recently wrote in a most reasonable article in the Times of India:

The best policy today is to (a) abandon socialism (Why does IPCC not talk about this ideology which is causing mankind the most harm?), and (b) to do everything possible to maximize the wealth of the current generations. Then review the [climate and energy] situation in 2050 when more data and new technologies become available. 

In the meanwhile, there’s no harm in installing as many nuclear plants as are viable and growing more trees. And we can keep researching alternative energy technologies. However, interventions to divert precious resources into uneconomic solar and wind energy are the surest way to harm future generations. 

The climate change alarm movement is driven by extremist socialists. Ultra-socialist Saikat Chakrabarti, who prepared Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, exposed the underbelly of climate change alarmism when he confessed that “The Green New Deal wasn’t originally a climate thing at all. We think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing”. The CO2 panic is a socialist harangue dressed in a veil of bad science. 

Can’t say fairer than that …

Best to everyone, I’ve got to go outside now and get some work done ..

w.

PS. H/T Mona~ctm

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150 thoughts on “Greenland Endures

    • Nice site Ric! It is interesting that the one interior weather station is at -6.79 C, while the others are above freezing. I think the first half of the ice sheet, around the edges, would melt much more easily than the center, where the average elevation is around 3000 meters. That is high enough to sustain glaciers far south in the Alps. Until we see some more isostatic sinking of the bedrock, the center of Greenland isn’t going to see much melting.

    • The interesting part on that page Ric posted is that one day in November the GAIN in SMB was almost 12GT. So gain almost 12GT one day in November and lose 11GT one day in July. Not a bad trade. So where were all the panicky “we’re DOOMED” articles in November?

      • The alarmists will obviously counter that the +12GT of SMB was certainly due to “climate change”, just like the -11GT and any other change. If it stayed the same, that would be sure to “climate change” too.

        • I’d say it was due to a really good snowstorm, something Joe Bastardi and I appreciate. 🙂

          I’ve seen 8″ of snow melt in one spring day in New Hampshire. It’s really tough for us to keep snow around once April hits with the high sun, long days, and high dew point air from the Gulf of Mexico.

    • The late great Christopher Booker did several articles on Greenland ice loss over the years, his main point in them was that there’s a lot of ice there and at the rate of loss that’s happening if none was replaced it would take thousands of years for it all to be gone so nothing to worry about.

      James Bull

  1. Well said, Willis. I always enjoy your grains of spot-on wisdom and perspective. The latter element is the most important one. Because it is the best way to handle the hysterical machinations of the environmentalist and political Left.

  2. “So IF the Greenland ice sheet were to lose 103 billion tonnes per year into the indefinite future, it would take about twelve thousand five hundred years to lose half of it …”

    Funny to make such a bold prediction when you wont be around…… hehe

    Seriously this “IF the rate stays the same” “prediction ” reminds me of this

    “And Nasa climate scientist Jay Zwally said: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”

    • Please note that Willis said:

      (Note that I am NOT saying that extending a current trend is a way to estimate the future evolution of the ice sheet—I’m merely using it as a way to compare large numbers.)

      Your comment would be useful had you offered a better comparison.

      • Leave it to Mosher to not get that the only ‘Bold Prediction’ Willis made was that some troll would come along and try to twist what he was saying in just the way Mosher did.

        ~¿~

      • Ric Werme
        Mosher doesn’t strike me as the sort of person who really wants to be useful. He behaves more like a jokester who gets off on stirring the pot.

    • Mosh, I put a disclaimer in there specifically because you made the same nonsensical claim about a previous post of mine. Here’s the disclaimer:

      (Note that I am NOT saying that extending a current trend is a way to estimate the future evolution of the ice sheet—I’m merely using it as a way to compare large numbers.)

      Of course, in your rush to falsely discredit me you ignored that totally.

      So your objection is total nonsense. What do I have to do, put “ATTENTION STEVE MOSHER” by the disclaimer so you finally stop trying to twist my words into something I never said?

      w.

      • Who the hell is this guy anyway? Didn’t there used to be someone of the same name who was sympathetic to the sceptical side? He drops in here, does this inane gainsaying bit, then never responds when he’s called out, like any other sociopathic basement-dwelling troll.

        What happened? Early-onset dementia? Inquiring minds want to know.

        • Mosh is not a bad guy, he just has a horrendous drive-by commenting style. Other than that, he’s a reasonable and interesting man.

          w.

          • Hmm, okay. Still, have yet to see him make one non-trollish comment since I became a regular here. Admittedly, not a very long time.

          • Mosh used to be a very interesting guy. He still is when he deigns to give one of his detailed responses. Unfortunately I think he discovered smart phones and obviously skims the article then gives a rapid, often simgle line response, presumably whilst he’s surfing.

            Let’s hope he gets back to his more considered response mode when he is always worth reading

            Tonyb

          • “then gives a rapid vapid, often simgle line response, presumably whilst he’s surfing.”

            Fixed it for you Tony.

        • Michael H Anderson

          Mosher is only interested in supporting a subject when he’s on the payroll.

          Berkeley pay him, and in addition, awarded him the title of ‘scientist’ despite him only ever having earned a qualification in English (something far from evident in his post’s) so his ego tells him he’s some sort of scientific expert.

          He’s just a troll who makes stuff up.

          • HotScot, that’s not true in the slightest. Mosh and I disagree at times, but he is indeed a scientist and an honest, transparent one. A PhD doesn’t make someone into a scientist. A scientist is someone who practices the scientific method, and Steve absolutely does that. He is also a good and decent man.

            My only objection to him is his drive-by style of posting …

            w.

          • I kind of like his “drive-by style of posting”… And I’ve probably learned almost as much from Mosh, as I have from Nick Stokes over the past 8-9 years… 😎

          • Willis

            with the greatest of respect to you, Mosher purports to understand Maths and Physics as though subjects he has studied.

            I’m certain that almost any Mathematician and/or Physicist will agree that unless one is trained in the subjects, one can’t simply troll up, do a few calculations then announce oneself as a scientist.

            I can do that for Pete’s sake. Indeed, what’s the point of having qualifications at all if we can all just announce ourselves as scientists?

            In fact, lets all just call ourselves surgeons or jet pilots, or both.

          • HotScot August 6, 2019 at 12:31 pm

            Willis

            with the greatest of respect to you, Mosher purports to understand Maths and Physics as though subjects he has studied.

            I’m certain that almost any Mathematician and/or Physicist will agree that unless one is trained in the subjects, one can’t simply troll up, do a few calculations then announce oneself as a scientist.

            I can do that for Pete’s sake. Indeed, what’s the point of having qualifications at all if we can all just announce ourselves as scientists?

            In fact, lets all just call ourselves surgeons or jet pilots, or both.

            Let me see if I can explain my position. Science is not a thing. Nor is it a specialty occupation like a surgeon or jet pilot. Science is a process designed to help us understand the world. It’s called the “scientific method”. The scientific method works like this:

            Someone makes a claim about how the world works. They provide all of the logic, math, data, computer code, references to past work, and everything else that they think explains and supports their claim.

            Then other people try to poke holes in their logic, math, data, computer code and all of the rest. If they can show that the claim is incorrect, it is discarded.

            But if nobody can poke holes in the claim, then it is accepted as a PROVISIONAL truth about the world … provisional because at any time, someone might find a way to poke a big gaping hole in the claim.

            So what is a scientist? It is someone who follows the scientific method—they make a scientific claim and are totally transparent about their methods, data, etc, and if the claim is falsified, they accept that and move on.

            Note that this is very different from being, say, a surgeon. That’s a technical specialty that requires lots of training and practice.

            And yes, Mosh, is indeed a scientist, as am I. Now I have no scientific training at all, beyond introductory chemistry and physics. That’s it. No math training beyond calculus. No statistics training of any kind. But training is not what makes a scientist. A scientist is someone who follows the scientific method, which both Mosh and I do.

            Let me note also Mosh’s bio, which is impressive:

            Steven Mosher is co-author of “Climategate: The Crutape Letters” and works as an independent consultant in the San Francisco area. He attended Northwestern University where he graduated with honors and BA’s in both English Literature and Philosophy. He left the Phd. program in Literature at UCLA to take a position in Threat Analysis at Northrop Aircraft where he advanced to Director of Operational Analysis for flight simulation.

            After serving as Vice President of Engineering for Eidetics Inc., he transitioned to the consumer sector and specialized in bringing new technology to market. As Vice president of New Technology at Creative Labs he was instrumental in bringing 3D graphics, DVD, Web cameras and Mp3 players to market.

            He has subsequently dedicated himself to the open source and open hardware movements, working as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Openmoko, where he championed the FreeRunner open phone and later founded Qi hardware, a company dedicated to creating “copy left” consumer products.

            He has written and maintains several R packages devoted to analyzing temperature and climate data with open source tools.

            Finally, I am totally self-educated in math, physics, statistics, and climate science. I am an amateur scientist, a title I wear with pride. The origin of the word “amateur” means lover, and an amateur scientist is someone who does it for love of the scientific chase and the scientific discovery, and not for money.

            So no, education or a PhD doesn’t make someone a scientist. Phil Jones PhD refused to reveal his data underlying his temperature reconstruction … sorry, but in that action he’s not a scientist.

            Best to you,

            w.

          • Willis

            whilst I have the greatest respect for you and your achievements, I know full well how Moshers resume reads. I have also met innumerable people with equally impressive resumes none of whom would even consider calling themselves a scientist. In your case, you always have had the good grace to explicitly state you are a self taught, amateur scientist – which probably, in my opinion, makes you a better scientist than many because you love what you do and you have no delusions of grandeur.

            If you don’t like the parallel I drew with Mosher not being entitled to use the title scientist, consider the law.

            If you are ever unfortunate to fall foul of the law it is your right, in the civilised west, to nominate someone to represent you. We usually immediately think of a lawyer but the fact is, you can nominate anyone in the world to represent you. They do not require the title ‘Lawyer’ or ‘Solicitor’ or ‘Barrister’.

            However, certainly in the UK, I’m sure in the US and almost as certain that in the rest of the civilised west, it is a criminal offence to present oneself as lawyer. I’ll forgo the details of due process, which is probably a very rough equivalent to the scientific process, which anyone can study and even become competent in. The question puzzling me as I think of it is, I wonder if one could legally call oneself an Amateur Lawyer.

            Furthermore, there is a dangerous crisis of confidence with science right now as you well know. The peer review process is being hijacked by incompetence, for financial gain and sometimes, downright dishonesty. My 24 year old daughter has worked damn hard, despite a debilitating condition to achieve a Masters qualification and even she acknowledges, and despises, the damage the crisis is causing in science. It compromises her achievements and professional status.

            My wife is also Masters qualified and having achieved her first degree through two pregnancies and the early years of childcare you might imagine how hard she worked. She also works in academia so after years of exemplary work, her assembled portfolio of over ten years was assembled, presented and examined, to allow her a part credit for her Masters. As a working woman and head of a department of around 50 academics, many of them with PhD’s themselves, she also worked damn hard to achieve her second degree.

            So, considering the peer review crisis and the work both my daughter and my wife put into achieving their scientific qualifications, do you believe it’s either wise, or fair that Steven Mosher is allowed to call himself a scientist just because he follows the scientific process (which I am also familiar with but wouldn’t dare call myself a scientist) but has never demonstrated his abilities with blood, sweat, tears, and a certificate.

            I think not. As clever as he may be, he is not a scientist because he has not undertaken the requisite study and gone through the formal process to allow him stand in front of his peers and be awarded a certificate of excellence by a respected academic institution.

            By acknowledging Mosher as a scientist you demean every scientist who has ever sweated blood over a final dissertation after years of study. Indeed, you demean your own status as an amateur scientists who has studied a subject you love for almost your whole life.

            And whilst Mosher is undoubtedly a charming and affable character in the flesh, so are most salesmen.

            I maintain my stance that he is an egotist.

      • Mosh, I put a disclaimer in there specifically because you made the same nonsensical claim about a previous post of mine.

        Oh, that’s a shame. I’d thought that you put it there specifically to point out that extending a current trend as a way to estimate the future evolution of ANYTHING in climate is unscientific and baseless.

        So let me add that extending a current trend as a way to estimate the future evolution of ANYTHING in climate is unscientific and baseless.

        Much of climatology seems to be obsessed with “trends” and extrapolating “trends” as though that tells us something. The “if the current trend continues” is put forward as though that is the logically most likely outcome, rather than something which will almost certainly NOT happen in a complex, chaotic non-linear system.

        Anyway thanks for highlighting yet another dataset which is not playing the game. No “run away” melting here either. The max rate of ice loss in 2012 corresponds to the lowest Arctic sea ice area/volume and shows similar improvements since that time.

    • Kindly explain how the use of the word “if“ constitutes a “prediction.”

      Whatever…

      • Michael H Anderson
        “If” constitutes a possible scenario without assigning any probability. Mosher is just trying to look smart. Insecure people are the bane of humanity.

    • It’s always good to have context. Every summer the sea ice coverage in the arctic decreases a lot relative to the maximum winter coverage.

      On the other hand, when you compare the recent annual loss in Greenland’s ice mass to the total, it’s less than a rounding error.

      p.s. Willis can have his way too hot ice free landscape.

      • There is one solid proof which immediately indicates IF there is remarkable ice loss somewhere on this planet. Sealevel rise must accelerate. (This is maybe the only physical proof of this warming nonsense.) Everything else is twisted minds daydreams.

    • Steve, I appreciate your willingness to engage here, and to offer alternative thoughts. However, your comments tend to be the mysterious, vague kind that often sound angry or arrogant. You really should take a lesson from Willis – he writes interesting things on difficult subjects that engage both the experts and the people like me that are just trying to follow along. His style is engaging and coherent. If you would write in the same fashion, you might win over some people like me who are trying to learn this stuff. You did that a little when you were commenting about bitcoin mining, and I found it informative and interesting.

    • Steven doesn’t read for understanding, he just skims until he can find something to complain about.

    • Mosh said,**Seriously this “IF the rate stays the same” “prediction ” reminds me of this**
      And the rate is NOT staying the same. The melt is decreasing so it will take centuries LONGER that Willis noted. So this is MUCH better than the fear monger Zwally said.

    • Mosh….I think you’re starting to get it….there is still hope for you returning from the dark side.

      You will know you’re all the way back when Michael Mann tells you….
      “Mosh…….I am you father”

    • In 12,000 years we will be into the next ice age and everybody will be cursing the greens.

      But on the bright side, or should I say white side, the Greenland icecap will be growing and the Arctic will no longer be ice free.

    • Mosher writes

      Seriously this “IF the rate stays the same” “prediction ” reminds me of this

      “And Nasa climate scientist Jay Zwally said: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”

      IF Willis had meant it as a prediction then you’d be right, but he didn’t. It was a way of putting the “large” ice losses into context….but Zwally wasn’t using the rate as a comparison, he was using it as a prediction. So when you say “reminds me of” then you’ve twisted Willis’ statement out of its useful context.

    • You would think that an English major would know the difference between “if” and “at this rate”.

  3. The video of Greenland ice sheet melting they showed on PBS Newshour last night showed surfaces that were completely covered in dark ‘dust’. So how much of the melting is cyroconite melting and not temperature-induced melting? And what is the source of the ‘dust’ – how much of it is man-made pollution, is some of it Saharan dust?

  4. There’s plenty of archaeological evidence that in the distant past, Greenland was bare of ice, had trees – a forest, in fact – and wasn’t one bit harmed by that.

    But that was before the Real World was no longer important. Panic attacks and lurid headlines are much more important.

    Hey, it’s in the upper 50s to low 60s at night now. Good sleeping weather. Have a nice August!!!

  5. Thank you Willis. I was hoping someone would work the numbers in a meaningful way. I watched some drivel on the news last night and was just glad they didn’t measure it in “Olympic Swimming Pools”.

  6. No more nuclear please. Gas is good. More CO2 is better. It our dung in the air. Everything we and drink except pure water depends on it.

    • HenryP,
      I spent a number of career years working with and getting to understand the need clear fuel cycle.
      As a result, I could write most encouraging words for it’s safe future.
      You pop up here with “No more nuclear please”, with no evidence of experience or scholarship or logic.
      You are, of course, free to do so, but can I suggest that you do exhibit experience, scholarship and logic before you post? Geoff S

  7. I’m confused. Has the average loss been 103 billion tons per year or over a period of 30 years . Why would you use 103 billion tons per year to calculate the number of years to loose half the ice if the actual period was 30 years?

    • James Francisco August 3, 2019 at 11:42 am
      I’m confused. Has the average loss been 103 billion tons per year or over a period of 30 years .

      It is the average annual loss for the 30 year period. It is reasonably clear if you read carefully. It comports with eyeometry of the graph.

      • Actually, it WASN’T clear.

        From that data, we find that the 1981 – 2010 thirty-year average mass balance for the Greenland ice sheet was a net loss of 103 billion tonnes.

        At first, I also thought he meant 103 billion tonnes for the whole 30 years, too. It only became clear later in the article that it was 103 tonnes a year average.

        ~¿~

  8. OK, I sifted through all the billions and billions, and here is what I came up with.
    Ice loss is stated as 5,000 billion tons.
    Total ice cap as 2,600,000 billion tons.
    Drop the “billion tons” and divide by 1000, we get 5 and 2,600.
    Calculate the ration and convert to %.
    Total accumulated ice loss = 0.19%, call it 0.2%.
    OK, I can understand calculating an estimate of the total ice volume based on the area of Greenland and estimated ice thickness. I can also go along with an estimate of ice melt by watching summer melt river flows. The trouble is in combining the estimates year on year to come up with estimates like this.
    Are we really able to measure ice mass of the entire island to +/- 0.1%, year on year?
    {Please, nobody say the GRACE mission. If you do, I will burst out laughing with coffee all over my keyboard and monitor, then I will choke and go into convulsions of hysterical laughter, then I will fall over, and need help getting up. Nobody here wants all that.}

  9. I’ve said it many times here but I’m going to say it again – if Willis didn’t exist we would have to invent him. Terrific article – thank you!

    • “increasing numbers in the GOP have swallowed the kool-aid”

      This is a problem because they don’t want to be referred to by an ugly epithet. The alarmists use ‘denier’ for a reason as it infers with prejudice that undeniable science is being ignored. Once the scientific truth can gain critical mass, this fear will go away and there will be an avalanche of acceptance and changed minds, even among the political left, as they’ll not want to be referred to by the d-word either.

  10. A headline from Feb 2019-

    “Lost WWII Plane Found Buried Under 340 Feet Of Ice…In Greenland”

    This has been covered before with previous planes that had been found upright meaning the planes has not sunk into the ice but been covered with snow over the years.

    340 ft of ice since 1942, this is a shed load of ice that has covered the plane, how many tons of snow has fallen since 1942?

    • There’s a lot more involved than just snowing and melting. Ice sheets move, and things sink.

      • “and things sink’

        The thinking is if it had sunk the plane would have been sitting nose down from the weight of the engines. The plane was sitting perfectly level.

        • Airplanes are balanced with the center of gravity generally near the center of the wing. Why do you think planes that ditch and sink are often flat on the ocean bottom? If the engines fall off on impact, then the tail will sink first. Planes sometimes are balanced with the CG off center but not much.

          • “Airplanes are balanced with the center of gravity generally near the center of the wing. ”

            Such an aircraft would be extremely dangerous. To be statically stable the center of gravity must be in front of the center of lift, which under normal conditions (subsonic flight, reasonable angle of attack) is usually at about quarter chord, i e about 25% of the way from the leading to the trailing edge.

      • Technically the plane didn’t sink. The ice that the plane was encased in migrated downwards as the ice underneath flowed out into the glacier and more ice accumulated on top of it.

    • Much of those 340 feet is actually compacted snow (firn), the snow usually turns to ice at a depth of c. 300 feet where the pressure is enough to squeeze the firn into ice.

  11. It makes little sense to talk about Greenland ice loss/gain without reference to the AMO cycle. Also, the data is pretty clear that Greenland has gained substantial ice over the last 5000 years.

  12. Nice crisp post, Willis.
    A further reference point for sea level rise (slr) fans.
    1Gt of melted ice will cause a SLR of ~2.78 microns (calcs and refs in essay PseudoPrecision in ebook Blowing Smoke). So the ~103 Gt/year average net loss is ~290microns, OR 0.29mm/year. Very scary—not!

  13. This site is also very good, especially as it shows massive increases in Ice over the 2017/2018 period
    https://web.archive.org/web/20180831033538/https://www.dmi.dk/en/groenland/maalinger/greenland-ice-sheet-surface-mass-budget/
    https://web.archive.org/web/20180831033538/https://www.dmi.dk/en/groenland/maalinger/greenland-ice-sheet-surface-mass-budget/
    in fact around an extra 250billion tons in 3 years, so lets project that trend in to the future instead.

  14. If it’s information from the Australian media just ignore it you know they are liars. Australia doesn’t have a news service they have an opinion service.

    • Same here in New Zealand, where TVNZ and the print media are a disgrace. However, I do detect the slow spread of the skeptic viewpoint – in most gatherings I am no longer the sole believer in Trump and non-CAGW – so the overwhelming warmist / alarmist view seems to be weakening. Perhaps the MSM have not achieved their aims as much as we had feared.

  15. I have been visiting WUWT for many years, but this is certainly one of the best articles I have seen here. Very convincing, especially the last Figure. A picture paints a thousand words …

  16. Eleven billion tons of ice equates to enough ice cubes for making eleventy kabillion Manhattans. That’s a lot of Manhattans!

    • But, what if you’re drinking your Manhattan in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, IN Manhattan, while watching a documentary on the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima?? Answer me that Mr. Smarty Pants!!

  17. so the fact that Greenland has a wildfire burning for the first time in recorded history is, what, false, or irrelevant, or what?

    back to swimming lessons …

    • False and irrelevant. It had fires in 2017 and 2018. And I find this:

      Stef Lhermitte, a remote sensing expert at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, said there is evidence of fires burning in Greenland over the past 17 years of MODIS satellite records kept by NASA.

      And this …

      Jason Box, an ice sheet researcher with the Geologic Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said he observed a lightning-sparked fire in the late 1990s.

      Finally, the globe has been warming for a couple centuries or more … do you expect things to stay the same? Your problem seems to be that you ascribe the centuries of warming to humans.

      w.

  18. Thanks for the perspective Willis.
    I was watching the Weather Channel wetting their panties over this melt and wondering;
    What does a melt like this do to the ice core?
    Do melts wipe out the compressed snow/ice layers from decades or even centuries prior to the melt?
    And how would the ice core record this melt?
    How can the “ice researchers” know if such melts have occurred?
    What shows in the ice?

    • It melts every summer. That is partly how Greenland ice cores are dated. By melt ‘tree rings’.

    • No, near the edge (about up to 5,000-7,000 feet altitude) there is melt every summer. Near the ice divide at the center of the icecap (where ice-cores are drilled) there is only about one melting episode per century (they were more frequent during the Eemian interglacial). The two latest were in 1888 and 2012.

      Such melt episodes form thin clear ice layers in the snow which are easily distinguishable from the bubbly ice formed by compression of snow. In really deep ice it is not possible to distinguish them with the bare eye since the gas in the bubbles form clathrates.

  19. To answer the question of “is 10 billion tonnes really a big number?”

    In the water industry nobody talks in litres, or tonnes of water, except for sensationalist headlines. The correct unit of measurement is Megalitres per day or cumecs (cubic metres per second).

    10 billion tonnes of water per day is equal to 10million megalitres per day.
    Or 115000 cumecs.

    To put that into perspective, the average flow rate for the amazon river is almost twice that at 209000 cumecs. Compared to a peak flow rate for Greenland of 115000 cumecs.

    Nobody would suggest the Amazon is raising sea levels, so why would somebody say Greenland is raising sea levels, with comparable flow rates, just because the precipitation falls in winter and flows off in summer?

    • The reason the Amazon river doesn’t raise sea levels is because all that water is returned to the Amazon forest through evaporation and rain, so the net change is 0.

      Note that your number for Greenland is a net change of 115 000 cumecs. The actual flow of meltwater is higher, but the rest is replaced with new snow/ice during winter. So 115 000 cumecs is what’s melting that isn’t being replaced.

      • Hi Stefan,

        As I understand it, 115 000 cumecs is the flow rate of ice melt occurring from the melt of 10 billion tonnes of ice lost in a day. On one particular warm summers day in Greenland.

        I think you must be mistaken, if you believe the melted ice won’t be replaced in the winter.

      • Actually yes, you are mistaken.

        I was not referring to the 103 billion tonnes of ice lost in 29 years.

        I was referring to the 11 billion tonnes lost in one day. Apologies, I did the math on 10 billion instead of 11 billion, I don’t know where I got 10billion from. Anyway, doesn’t change much.

        The net loss of 103 billion over 29 years I calculated quickly as 113 cumecs. It’s not a particularly big number. But evidently results in a gradual sea level rise over that 29 year period regardless.

    • Hi Stephen – please, in the global sense of these flows affecting sea levels, shouldn’t we consider Sverdrups rather than cumecs?

      cheers edi

  20. Greenland has about 1.8 million square kilometer. This is 1.8e12 square meter. The specific weight of ice is 0.9. This means with the 11 billion tons is 11e12kg, that’s 5.5 kg per m2 which is 5mm los ion one warm day. This is not much, I think.

  21. Greenland has about 1.8 million square kilometer. This is 1.8e12 square meter. The specific weight of ice is 0.9. This means with the 11 billion tons is 11e12kg, that’s 6.1 kg per m2 which is 6.7.mm los on one warm day. This is not much, I think.

  22. Thats pretty revealing. Look at figures 2 and 3 – see something. The numbers look big but in the total scheme of things, they are virtually meaningless. Oh, sue the Alarmists conveniently forget that temperatures went down for some years now and the ice comes back with a vengeance. We lost – virtually nothing. We gain it back in a few years and as we are entering a protracted solar minimum now, there will likely be a lot more ice than the starting point not long from now. The Netherlands might be able to live without all their dikes someday in the not so far future.

  23. Anyone here actually been to Greenland besides me? Way back in ’70 or ’71. As a pilot in the AF. We flew to Thule from Georgia in a C-141. Landed going east; next day turn around take off going west. Mountains the other way. The ice age was coming at the time. You can see it up there.

    • I fly over Greenland frequently. Recently I was looking out over all the sea ice surrounding it, and someone remarked, with absolutely no idea of our location, “Oh, there used to be so much more!” Maybe she worked for PBS News

  24. From the article: “However … there has been no big trend in mass losses in Greenland. As you can see in the graph above, it went down starting in 1980 but has generally risen since about 2010 … go figure.”

    Yes, 1980 was about the time climate scientists gave up on the human-caused Global Cooling speculation and started in on the human-caused Global Warming speculation. That would be because the temperatures started warming up around then instead of cooling as they had been doing for decades. So the climate scientists had to do an aboutface!

    So the graph covers a cold period (1980) warming up to a warm period (the present day). But the mass starts increasing around 2010, so maybe this is an indication of cooling. Or should I say another indication of cooling.

    I watched ABC cover this news event the other day and they showed a rushing river of water flowing from somewhere as they fed the CAGW narrative to the people watching. Thanks for putting things in perspective. We can always count on getting the other side of the story here at WUWT.

  25. Greenland ice fields cover 1,710,000 sq km
    Million sq metres per sq km equals 1,710,000,000,000 sq metres.

    Ice weighs 919 kg cubic metre.

    1,000,000,000 tonnes of ice equals 11,963,532,100 cubic metres lost.

    Divide that by the area.

    7mm surface ice lost.

    Who claims they can measure 1,710,000 sq km to that accuracy each day?

    • http://polarportal.dk/en/greenland/surface-conditions/

      You must include calving in your calculation.

      “The map illustrates how the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet gains and loses mass on a daily basis. This is known as the surface mass balance. It does not include the mass that is lost when glaciers calve off icebergs and melt as they come into contact with warm seawater”

  26. Anthony & CTM, I just sent an email regarding this subject to your manuscript email address. I would appreciate your replying to that. Sorry for doing it this way, but I think you’ll see why in the email. Thanks.

  27. Some years ago (some might now say many years ago), a commenter at Bishop Hill put forward a simple back-of-an-envelope calculation matching the asserted ΔH effect on the Earth from postulated extra CO2 in the atmosphere, with the accumulated ΔH needed to melt the Greenland ice sheet.
    I found no fault in the calculations, and I’m too lazy to repeat the exercise now, but it came to many thousands of years… And that is if all the global warming was always concentrated into the relatively small area of Greenland.

    Is it a meaningful calculation? In an absolute sense, probably not. It’s the sort of thing that the MSM broadcasts all the time. But it does help put things in perspective if/when somebody is trying to present both sides of an argument.

    There is no such thing as a general scientist’s professional oath, board of professional standards, or even professional commitment (maybe if they adopted one, pay-rates ultimately might rise for the honest and competent). But if a scientist cannot commit to some form of disinterest above and beyond the needs of politics, fame or funders (whether private or public) then we have nothing. That’s how we ended up with people like Michael Mann.

    • I’ve been following DMI and polar portal Greendland ice reporting for the last few years, when it has been accumulating, and when it has been melting, too. My conclusion is that the pesistence of storms, or clear sunny skies, have their effects. Storms bring increases in DMB, and sunny skies bring melting.

      It seems to me that the ’12-GT’, 1-day SMB acculations occur when strong, wet low pressure systems approach the island from the southwest, and hit mid-island. A somewhat slower accumupation occurs when a low pressure systm parks off the SE coast of the island, and sits there for 3-5 days.

      In the years when the weather does not do this, accumulations are less. If those years also are sunny in the summer, total SMB is lower as the melt season completes.

  28. The alarmists will obviously counter that the +12GT of SMB was certainly due to “climate change”, just like the -11GT and any other change. If it stayed the same, that would be sure to “climate change” too.

  29. All of Greenland’s ice melting would rise sea levels by about 6 meters. So losing 0.2% so far means a sea level rise of about 1.2 centimeters has occurred.

    The Antarctic ice sheet has about ten times as much ice; so it’ll also cause sea level rises (with a higher ceiling, but I’m not sure it’s melting at the same ratio so far).

    As for the melting pace, it’s highly irregular, but the trendline points towards an average loss of about 250 b tons/year at the moment. So still not as bad as the worst years were.

    But yeah if we just stop our greenhouse gas emissions soon we wont have to worry about the Greenlandic ice sheet because so far the melting hasn’t been THAT bad.

  30. The sharp fall of 11 Gt began from the peak of a ~ 6 Gt rapid gain of ice. Now from the nadir of the 11 Gt down-fluctuation, the ice has regained about 3 Gt already. So it’s almost back where it started a few days ago.

  31. Just wondering how many mm ( or micrometers ) is 103 billion tonnes of water spread across the worlds oceans?

  32. WonkyPedia tells us oceans cover 360 million square kilometers = 360 * 10^12 m^2
    A tonne of water is a cubic metre.

    103 * 10^9 m^3 / 360 * 10^12 m^2 ~= 0.3 mm/y

    oo-err. We’re dooomed , I tell yer, we’re all doooomed.

  33. In one month Greenland lost as much ice as it has on average over a year (using figures 2002-2018).

    a year’s worth.

    It saw melt at its highest point, where evidence shows on average melt has occurred once in 250 years (last time in 2012, btw).

    I don’t see how you can just explain all this away?

    • Explain it away? It’s already almost gone away.

      The sharp fall of 11 Gt began from the peak of a ~ 6 Gt rapid gain of ice. Now from the nadir of the 11 Gt down-fluctuation, the ice has regained about 3 Gt already. So it’s almost back where it started a few days ago.

    • Apparently you weren’t paying attention, Griff. The one-month loss is akin to throwing bricks into the Grand Canyon one at a time in an attempt to fill it up. No one would notice.

    • It’s easy to explain.
      There are cycles in nature that are longer than the annual cycle.

      What is it about trolls and there desperate need to believe that if anything is different from last year, it must be the fault of CO2.

  34. I must confess, I had to get to the spoiler….which is going up on a poster and getting pinned on Twitter for all to see…I just hate when they act like all the Arctic ice is going to be gone in the next 50, 40, 12 years…. If this doesn’t “cure” people of their foolishness, nothing will.
    “To answer our question if 103 billion tonnes lost per year is a big number, we have to compare the annual ice mass loss to the amount of ice in the Greenland ice sheet. The Greenland ice sheet contains about 2.6E+15 (2,600,000,000,000,000) tonnes of water in the form of snow and ice.

    So IF the Greenland ice sheet were to lose 103 billion tonnes per year into the indefinite future, it would take about twelve thousand five hundred years to lose half of it …

    And even if the loss were to jump to ten times the long-term average, it would still take twelve hundred years to melt half the ice on the Greenland ice sheet…..”

  35. For a little more “perspective“…

    Based on the asserted loss of ice since 1900, the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has lost the equivalent of a Lake Superior-sized ice cube. However the GrIs remained larger than the Gulf of Mexico (by volume) despite losing a Lake Superior. The Gulf of Mexico has a volume of about 2.5 million km3. If the GrIS melted, the volume of water would be about 2.71 million km3. Before losing Lake Superior, the water volume was 2.72 million km3.

    99.58% of the Greenland Ice Sheet has not melted since 1900.

    Tabone et al., 2017 devised a model to simulate how the GrIS has evolved over the past 250,000 years. Using the maximum basal melting scenario (Bref = 40), I tacked the modern GrIS volume profile on to their model.

    Who would have guessed that the “Anthropocene” GrIS is actually larger than it was during the Late Pleistocene? WUWT? X-axis is in calendar years AD(BC). Notice something funny? The GrIS may have actually been smaller than it currently is from 35 ka to 15 ka. And, this actually might make sense. Of course, the lower basal melting scenarios would reverse this… And they would also make the modern ice loss even more geologically insignificant.

    Vinther et al., 2009 reconstructed the elevations of four ice core sites over the Holocene. There has been very little change in elevation of the two interior ice core sites (NGRIP and GRIP), while the two outboard sites (Camp Century and DYE3) have lost 546 and 342 m of ice respectively.

    Elevation profiles: End Pleistocene and 2000 AD.

    Most of the melting since the beginning of the Holocene has occurred on the outboard, lower elevation portions of the GrIS – Same as it ever was.

    • Thank you for the profiles. It is very telling that Greenland looks like a shallow, very broad “basin” that traps the center ice against the tall “walls” of the bowl around the edges. It is only the 60 kilometers between the shore and the rim mountains that allows the glaciers on the edge to slide into the oceans. In the graphic, both Dyes and Camp Century are on the inside edges of the central bowl.

    • More than 10 billion tons (11 billion U.S. tons) of ice was lost to the oceans by surface melt on Wednesday alone, creating a net mass ice loss of some 197 billion tons (217 billion U.S. tons) from Greenland in July, she said.

      “It looks like the peak will be today. But the long-term forecast is for continuing warm and sunny weather in Greenland, so that means the amount of the ice loss will continue,” she said Thursday in a telephone interview from Copenhagen.

      The scope of Wednesday’s ice melt is a number difficult to grasp. To understand just how much ice is being lost, a mere 1 billion tons — or 1 gigaton — of ice loss is equivalent to about 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, the Danish Meteorological Institute said . And 100 billion tons (110 billion U.S. tons) corresponds to a 0.28 mm (0.01 inch) rise in global sea levels.

      https://apnews.com/65694195c91d4b62b275bd14a6955b4c

      1 Gt ice loss = 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools

      How Big is the Greenland Ice Sheet?

      According to U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386–A (2012), the volume of the GrIS is 2,600,000 km3.

      Ice: tonne per cubic meter (t/m³) 0.9167.

      2,600,000 km3= 2,383,420 Gt

      Greenland Ice Sheet = 953,368,000,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools… almost 1 trillion Olympic-sized swimming pools.

  36. How big is 11B tons of ice?

    First, remember, there are SCARY headlines and SCARE headlines. There is a difference and the article references is the latter.

    By I digress, how big is 11B tons of ice.

    Using very straight forward math and a factor that a cubic foot of ice weighs 5.72 lbs, it easy to compute.

    11B tons equates to 26.12 cubic miles lost in one day.

    The surface area of Manhattan island is 22.8 sq miles, so the ice lost would be the area of Manhattan 1.15 high.

    Feel free to check the math on your own.

  37. Your math is wrong.
    11B tons is 11Gt and equals 11cubic kilometers.
    Even with 11Gt a day year round it would take more than 100.000 days to loose half the ice.

    • Thanks, Ben. Fame awaits me, I’m sure … that and $5 will get a cup of coffee at Starbucks …

      Best to you,
      w.

  38. I really want to believe that you guys are on the correct side of this, because after 50 years of forecasting weather I don’t know.. I think you would sound more credible if something in the climate change ‘news’ frightened you guys a little.

  39. meteorologist in research August 4, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    I really want to believe that you guys are on the correct side of this, because after 50 years of forecasting weather I don’t know.. I think you would sound more credible if something in the climate change ‘news’ frightened you guys a little.

    Thanks, Meteo. What is it that you think we should be frightened of? The coral atolls are not disappearing. There’s been no increase in the rate of sea level rise. Just which phenomena do you think are outside of historical norms? We’re at the cold end of the Holocene. The recent warming has been going on for at least 200 years … so …

    What are you afraid of? This climate has survived meteor strikes and volcanic eruptions, what is it that frightens you?

    Serious question, thanks for your answer.

    w.

    • Very good question Willis, I hope you get a good answer…but don’t see any extreme weather and SLR events that would frighten them. From observations/data, etc.

    • Thanks. This is a huge subject. After reading about the data you’ve shared it seems that it’s all natural fluctuations. The slight trends that can be found are all in the ‘bad’ direction as I see it, but there’s so much noise and we don’t have a good grasp of the subtle mechanisms so it shouldn’t be frightening yet. What will it look like in a few decades? I won’t be around to find out.

      So the obvious question is what would cause you concern? Are we coming out of Holocene conditions too quickly to keep us complacent? Will more and more greenhouse gases change things? Will feedbacks finally have had enough time to take effect?

      Are you watching the Rossby Wave pattern? It should affect regional climates more quickly than the slight warming you talk about. So far the amplification or the elongation of the long waves haven’t remained in an ‘abnormal’ pattern for long. I’m thinking this will be the first sign of changes, since those patterns form and sustain regional climates.

      More immediately as it is now, we should be frightened about large flares, extinctions, clean water, meteors that surprise us and all the scarcities which might result from overpopulation.

  40. So what percentage of total Greenland Ice was lost/melting this summer in one day ? (11 billion tons of surface ice lost) My calculator doesn’t go that high.

  41. Kudos to Willis Eschenbach for putting the Greenland ice loss in perspective, particularly with his Figure 3. Greenland’s losing 0.2% of its ice mass in 50 years is not all that bad, especially when East Antarctica (with a larger area) is gaining ice mass.

    Global warming alarmists like to show spectacular videos of large chunks of ice crashing into the sea, glistening in the summer sun, and scare people into believing that Greenland’s ice cap is disappearing. What the fear-mongers DON’T show is all the blizzards piling snow onto Greenland during its long, dark winter. It may not have much visual effect, but it does happen, and tends to balance out the much more visible summer melting.

    • OMG!!! The Atlantic managed to insert “…unseasonably warm…” into every caption except one! After they stated the date! All dates fell in the range July 29 through August 6 (inclusive). Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Greenland in the northern hemisphere? Which would make all pictures taken in the Summer time! Summer is SUPPOSED to be warm!!! Apparently it didn’t even break any records, if it had I’m sure every caption would have included “…record-breaking …”!!! So what they were saying was, look at these majestically beautiful pictures taken on a day like any other!!!

    • The caption to Picture #7 is my favourite.
      “Flowers bloom on a hillside along the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather on July 30, 2019.”

      So in effect – Flowers usually bloom in summer when it’s seasonably cold.
      Did I understand this correctly?

      p.s. Nice collection of photos.
      H/T Alan Taylor

  42. As a related matter, the much alarmed “heat-record” of 4.7 C at the Summit weather station in Greenland from early August is finally admitted to be faulty in an interview by the Danish radio

    https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/dmi-afviser-varmerekord-i-gronland

    A meteorolog from the DMI explains that the true temp was – 2 C and the mistaken reading was caused by lack of proper ventilation of the instrument due to too short distance to the ice/snow surface. Naturally, the meteorolog felt need to claim that -2 C is still “warm” even if it is not as warm as 4 C

  43. Perhaps a better comparison than annual mass loss for this melt day headline would be the one day mass *gain* from precipitation. I calculate 2 or 3 inches of snow across Greenland also has mass about 10B tons. Wheres my headline?

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