Ice caps and glaciers wax and wane in response to many cycles. In this post I examine recent research on the state of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps, and glaciers in the Himalayas.
Satellite measurement of glaciers in the Himalayas revealed that these mountains lost only one-tenth the ice between 2003 and 2010 compared to the loss reported in previous estimates. (Source). The Guardian (U.K.) reports that Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber said: “The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero.”
This study period is very short and the results could be an artifact of the variable monsoons. The results could also reflect the difference between extrapolation from a few ground stations and more complete measurement by satellites. Satellite measurement is based on gravity, a method that is capable of giving a detailed picture. Gravity measurements are also used in mineral exploration.
A new surface mass balance (SMB) map of Antarctic shows no significant trend for the period 1979-2010. Note that this is a modeling study, but the authors claim it is in good agreement with 750 surface measuring stations. See full paper and graphics here.
During the mid-2000s, Greenland received much publicity because of the rapid melting of outlet glaciers in the western and southern part of the island. A new study shows that this melting is part of a cycle that produced rapid melting in the 1930s as well. The study authors attribute the melting “with a relatively strong influence of Atlantic water and a lower influence of polar water on the shelf off Greenland, as well as with warm summers and the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation. (Source). The study was based on analysis of sedimentary deposits. Here is their graph of relative melting.
Rutgers University keeps track of snow cover around the world. Their data show as slight, but steadily increasing snow cover in Greenland since 1966. See graphs for the northern hemisphere as a whole here. There is a slightly increasing trend.
Two of the studies cited above give short-term glimpses of what is happening. They do not necessarily reflect long-term trends. But CAGW proponents and the press are quick to cite such studies when the trends go their way. And, even the short-term studies suggest that natural forces easily overwhelm any alleged influence of carbon dioxide emissions.
For the story on Sea ice see Arctic sea ice reaches seasonal low.