Another Greenland melting scare

From the “it’s worse than we thought department”:

A new paper published in Science Advances claims that the amount of melting of coastal glaciers in eastern Greenland has been underestimated by about 20 gigatonnes per year. (Link to full paper titled “Geodetic measurements reveal similarities between post–Last Glacial Maximum and present-day mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet”) The paper does not mention global warming or climate change. The melting is due entirely to geologic processes. But the press manages to sound an alarm.

The New York Post translates the 20 gigatonnes figure to pounds to make it scarier sounding: “The new study, published in Science Advances, discovered that the island is losing 550 trillion pounds of ice a year — 40 trillion, and about 7.6 percent, more than scientists previously thought.”

The Post quotes a professor:

“It is pretty scary,” Michael Bevis, a professor at Ohio State University and co-author of the study, told the AP. “If you look at the last 15 years since we’ve been having these measurements, it’s clearly getting worse.” According to Bevis, the extra ice will add approximately 1/50th of an inch a decade to global sea level. So 1/50th of an inch per decade is scary?

An article from Climate Central (an alarmist site) begins with these paragraphs:

Rising temperatures are melting ice and sending it to the ocean, a process that is pushing sea levels higher and altering the landscape at both poles. The latest news comes from Greenland, where researchers have used high-tech satellite and GPS measurements to see how much mass the ice sheet is losing.

Their results, published this week in Science Advances, indicate that it’s melting faster than previous estimates, particularly in areas where the ice sheet comes in direct contact with the ocean. It’s a troubling finding for the future of coastal areas around the world.

Greenland hot spotThe claim that melting is due to rising temperatures is debunked by the Science Advances study itself. In the study, they show that isostatic rebound following the last glacial maximum is tilting the continent and causing east coast glaciers to flow faster into the sea. They also note that “The onset of increasing flow of the northeast Greenland ice stream (the largest flow feature of the ice sheet), for example, has been linked to a geothermal hot spot.”

As I note in my article Greenland surprises:

Ice-penetrating radar and drilling have led to some surprises in Greenland during the last few years. The continent is bowl-shaped, it has a massive canyon running down its middle, and it contains a large aquifer of liquid water beneath the ice. That means that the continental ice sheet is in no danger of slipping into the ocean as some have claimed.

Regardless of the cause of melting, is it “a troubling finding for the future of coastal areas around the world” as claimed by Climate Central?

According to calculations at the Watts Up With That blog, melting of 550 trillion pounds of ice would cause a sea level rise of 0.689 millimeters or 0.0271 inches per year. That additional 40 trillion pounds actually added 0.045 mm/yr to global sea levels. The total melt contributes to sea level rise of less than the thickness of a penny. Do you find that scary?

To put things in further perspective, consider this report:

“A considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been, during the last two years, greatly abated. 2000 square leagues [approximately 14,000 square miles] of ice with which the Greenland Seas between the latitudes of 74N and 80N have been hitherto covered, has in the last two years entirely disappeared.”

That report is an extract from a letter by the President of the Royal Society addressed to the British Admiralty, written in 1817 (Royal Society, London. Nov. 20, 1817. Minutes of Council, Vol. 8. pp.149-153).

Sea also:

The Sea Level Scam

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