Peter Sinclair’s newest is a look at how climate change deniers distort and misrepresent the climatic evidence from Antarctic ice cores, by falsely comparing them to Greenland ice records.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to Dr. Richard Alley and his groundbreaking work, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t note his resemblance to Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor.
A disturbing story about recent scientific findings in Greenland and Antarctica: As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas.
TASIILAQ, Greenland — With a tense pilot gripping the stick, the helicopter hovered above the water, a red speck of machinery lost in a wilderness of rock and ice.
To the right, a great fjord stretched toward the sea, choked with icebergs. To the left loomed one of the immense glaciers that bring ice from the top of the Greenland ice sheet and dump it into the ocean.
Hanging out the sides of the craft, two scientists sent a measuring device plunging into the water, between ice floes. Near the bottom, it reported a temperature of 40 degrees. It was the latest in a string of troubling measurements showing that the water was warm enough to melt glaciers rapidly from below.
“That’s the highest we’ve seen this far up the fjord,” said one of the scientists, Fiammetta Straneo.
The temperature reading was a new scrap of information in the effort to answer one of the most urgent — and most widely debated — questions facing humanity: How fast is the world’s ice going to melt?
The answer to the question seems to be: a lot faster than previously thought possible.
As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.
And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia.
The scientists say that a rise of even three feet would inundate low-lying lands in many countries, rendering some areas uninhabitable. It would cause coastal flooding of the sort that now happens once or twice a century to occur every few years. It would cause much faster erosion of beaches, barrier islands and marshes. It would contaminate fresh water supplies with salt.
In the United States, parts of the East Coast and Gulf Coast would be hit hard. In New York, coastal flooding could become routine, with large parts of Queens and Brooklyn especially vulnerable. About 15 percent of the urbanized land in the Miami region could be inundated. The ocean could encroach more than a mile inland in parts of North Carolina.
Abroad, some of the world’s great cities — London, Cairo, Bangkok, Venice and Shanghai among them — would be critically endangered by a three-foot rise in the sea.
ScienceDaily (Aug. 7, 2010) — A University of Delaware researcher reports that an “ice island” four times the size of Manhattan has calved from Greenland’s Petermann Glacier. The last time the Arctic lost such a large chunk of ice was in 1962.
“In the early morning hours of August 5, 2010, an ice island four times the size of Manhattan was born in northern Greenland,” said Andreas Muenchow, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. Muenchow’s research in Nares Strait, between Greenland and Canada, is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Satellite imagery of this remote area at 81 degrees N latitude and 61 degrees W longitude, about 620 miles [1,000 km] south of the North Pole, reveals that Petermann Glacier lost about one-quarter of its 43-mile long [70 km] floating ice-shelf.
Germany’s Spiegel Online reports on new research on the Greenland ice sheet (cross-checked with two different methods that yielded the same result), showing that the ice is disappearing much faster than previously believed.
The dimensions of this frosty giant go way beyond human imagination. With a surface area spanning some 1.7 million square kilometers (656,000 square miles), a view of Greenland’s ice above the Sermeq-Kujalleq glacier near Ilulisat makes it seem endless. The idea that this sheet of ice, which is up to three kilometers thick in parts, is melting seems absurd in the extreme.
But the large number of gigantic icebergs — and the valley into which they are slowly sliding — tell a different story. Here, as elsewhere in Greenland, a gigantic upheaval is underway. In recent years, the glacier has receded by around 15 kilometers; the ongoing meltdown appears unstoppable. Just how quickly Greenland’s ice is melting remains a matter of some debate, but the melting ice is contributing to rising ocean levels — with potentially dramatic consequences for millions across the globe.
Were Greenland to lose all of its ice, sea levels would rise some seven meters higher than today’s levels. Such a scenario will not become reality overnight — indeed the process could last hundreds of years. But new results from a team of Dutch researchers suggest that conservative estimates as to the speed with which the ice is melting should be shelved. According to the study, the rate at which Greenland’s ice is melting has accelerated substantially in recent years.
There are, strictly speaking, two parallel processes responsible for the ice’s retreat. On the one hand, rising temperatures melt the ice on land while warmer ocean currents eat away at the glaciers that jut out into the ocean. A research team led by Michiel van den Broeke from the University of Utrecht reported in the most recent edition of the journal Science that the two processes are contributing equally to the disappearance of the ice sheet.
According to the new report, Greenland lost an estimated 1,500 gigatons (one gigaton is equal to 1 billion tons) of ice from the year 2000 to 2008. “That is at the upper end of recent estimates of Greenland mass loss using various other methods,” van den Broeke told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Between 2006 and 2008, the loss in weight totaled 273 gigatons per year, he said.
The scientists are convinced their results are accurate because they arrived at their numbers using two fundamentally different methods — both of which returned the same conclusion. On the one hand, they monitored the movement of the ice which they fed into a regional computer model. For a second data source, they used the Grace observation satellites, which measure the Earth’s gravitational field.