Sunday, September 5, 2010

{#9} SPPI & Monckton’s claim regarding Greenland's Cryosphere being OK - examined

In this, my ninth email, we’ll examine SPPI and Monckton's claim: “I find it hard to discern anything to worry about in Greenland’s ice.”

From SPPI's blog essay "Science ad rem, not politics ad Hominem":
“Professor Cliff Ollier, whom I have also consulted, says that the vast bulk of the Greenland ice is in a bowl surrounded by mountains and that, therefore, changes in ice-mass balance are influenced very little indeed by short-run changes in Arctic temperature.”

Lord Monckton, if you are going to use the “bowl” analogy, why not include the many cracks running along the rim of that bowl; with long glacial tongues draining through them? To educate, shouldn’t the discussion include the dynamics of coastal glaciers and ice-shelves and how they act as buttresses up against the downward thrust of the flowing ice coming out of Greenland’s highland glacier filled bowl?

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MFMI 1:01:00
“How many have heard that Greenland is melting away? Yes, that’s right, you’ve all heard that, right. Here is a paper by Johannessen et al. very diligent Danish researcher using laser altimetry. What he found was that between 1992 and 2003 the average thickness of the vast Greenland’s ice sheet increased by 2 inches a year. A total of nearly 2 feet over the period.”

Another example of sharing only that tiny sliver of information which supports your pet thesis. The following quotes come directly from that same Johannessen et al. 2005 paper, and nothing in there contradicts claims that Greenland is loosing ice mass at ever increasing rates.

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Johannessen et al. 2005:
“Positive dH/dt values are generally found over most of the high-elevation areas, with largest positive values of up to 10 to 20 cm/year in southwestern (G69-N) and eastern Greenland between 74-N and 77-N. The largest negative values, –25 to –30 cm/year, are found in several parts of western Greenland, where independent aerial altimetry in 1997 and 2002 to 2003 also found the greatest thinning. Negative values are also found in southeastern Greenland (63-N to 66-N) and in the northeastern ice stream (78-N to 80-N), with values of –10 to –15 cm/year. 2003.”

“We cannot make an integrated assessment of elevation changes - let alone ice volume and its equivalent sea-level change - for the whole Greenland Ice Sheet, including its outlet glaciers, from these observations alone. Because the marginal areas are not measured completely using ERS-1/ERS-2 altimetry.”

“... investigate how observed elevation changes are linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) pattern of atmospheric circulation, which we hypothesize to have an under appreciated role on the Greenland Ice Sheet surface elevation through its effect on winter precipitation. This is a critical issue, as the North Atlantic Oscillation index is predicted to become more positive in response to increasing Green House Gases.”
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MFMI 1:01:40
“I couldn’t believe this, so I checked. I got in touch with the DOD I said: I want your pictures of some DYE line stations, as they were when they were operating, and as they are now. They sent me this. Left, as they were operating, (flat plowed snow surface, low on buildings), on the right, as they are now gradually being surrounded by ice and fern and snow... ”
“There is visual mark one eye ball confirmation of Johannessen’s result.”

A couple minor points. Actually, the process works the other way around, snow, fern, ice, then over decades and centuries accumulation and compression into glacial ice. Beyond that, as you noted these radar stations are decommissioned, thus no more snow removal activities. It’s no surprise that contemporary pictures reveal snow building up. Weirder still, by limiting your discussion to this single “mark one eye ball confirmation,” you leave a goofy implication that you believe a square meter of snow is equivalent to a square meter of glacial ice. I’m sure you know better, so again I’m left wondering where’s the science in such manipulations?

More importantly, the accumulating snow in Greenland’s interior was predicted and is well understood within the framework of AGW. Warmer air holds more moisture given off by warmer ocean currents, which then flow over Greenland encountering Arctic cold fronts, thus releasing more snow onto the highland interior.

But, in the interest of honest education shouldn’t you have discussed what is happening along the coast and within some of Greenland’s largest glaciers?

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From SPPI's blog essay "Science ad rem, not politics ad Hominem":
“Certainly, the Viking burial- ground at Havlsey, in south-western Greenland, remains under permafrost to this day, and it was certainly not under permafrost when the bodies were buried. Once again, I find it hard to discern anything to worry about in Greenland’s ice.”

Since, you don’t offer any references or proof, and since I’ve learned better than to take your word for it. I figured out where Havlsey was and then emailed some folks from that area:
My email read - Dear...,
Recently, I came across an amazing claim that: “the Viking burial-ground at Hvalsey, in south-western Greenland, remains under permafrost to this day.” When I looked on the map, I found Hvalsey church and farm and it is hard for me to believe that permafrost exists that far south and that close to the coast. I have been trying to find other information besides one person’s claim, with no luck.

Can you help me with this question. Are the burial grounds near the Hvalsey church, or farm permafrost? Any information you can share with me will be appreciated.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Here are three unedited, complete replies:
"I know the site of the Havlsey Fjord Church very well – was the curator of the nearby museum of Qaqortoq for 12 years.

"You are completely right about your doubts: There is absolutely no permafrost at this site.
Preservation for organic remains is extremely poor. There is a church yard round the church. We excavated a tiny bit of it in connection with restoration of the south wall of church. I wrote about that in “Journal of the North Atlantic” (Restoration of the Hvalsey Fjord Church (2009)). Bones were only preserved as a powdery substance."

Georg Nyegaard
Curator, The Greenland National Museum & Archives
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"No, Norse burial grounds near the Hvalsey church or farm are not under permafrost!"

Jette Arneborg
Museumsinspektør, seniorforsker, Phd.
Curator, senior researcher.
NATIONALMUSEET/The National Museum of Denmark
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"The short answer is: no it is not.

"There has been permafrost in the ground in S(outh)-Greenland but with global warming this is rapidly disappearing precipitating a major threat to the archaeology of the region.

"However, there have been many excavations in the cemetery in Hvalsey, ever since the 18th century, turning up next to nothing (the last one to dig there systematically was Aage Roussell in the 1930s but grave-cuts were also observed during recent repair works of the south wall of the church). The preservation of bone and other organic materials seems to be unusually poor in this particular spot, which is certainly nothing like Herjolfsnes or Sandnes.

"So: no permafrost and probably not much mileage in investigating this cemetery further - there are many others in Norse Greenland which could be more fruitfully examined."

Orri Vésteinsson
University of Iceland
Professor - Humanities - Faculty of History and Philosophy
Viking Age Archaeology, North Atlantic Church Archaeology
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In closing, I share a sampling of down to Earth evidence that is being gathered. The message this data, (and Earth itself), is telling us, remains diametrically opposed to your politics driven claims. When will you, Robert Ferguson, and Christopher Monckton, start discussing all the evidence at hand?

Examples of genuine “Visual mark one eye ball confirmation” of the plight of Earth’s cryosphere”

“The Extreme Ice Survey”

“The Extreme Ice Survey is the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted using ground-based, real-time photography. EIS uses time-lapse photography, conventional photography, and video to document the rapid changes now occurring on the Earth's glacial ice. The EIS team has installed 27 time-lapse cameras at 15 sites in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, and the Rocky Mountains.”

See the one-hour NOVA’s program on the survey, “Extreme Ice”

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Then for some NASA eyes on the prize:

Aug. 5, 2010
An enormous chunk of ice, roughly 97 square miles (251 square kilometers) in size, broke off the Petermann Glacier, along the northwestern coast of Greenland.

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February 16, 2010
Glaciers in west Greenland are melting 100 times faster at their end points beneath the ocean than they are at their surfaces, according to a new NASA/university study published online Feb. 14 in Nature Geoscience.

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Jakobshavn Glacier Retreat
NASA Earth Observatory: "For most of the past century, the Jakobshavn Glacier, along the west coast of Greenland has extended out into the ocean as a long, narrow ice tongue. The glacier drains a large portion of Greenland's ice sheet, and consequently, the glacier has the potential to contribute more to sea level rise than any other single feature in the Northern Hemisphere. On July 6-7, 2010, the glacier retreated by roughly 1 mile (1.5 kilometers

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An collection of interesting videos courtesy of the Guardian.UK, including a time lapse of the arctic ice cover from 1978 -2008.

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Some studies:

Extensive dynamic thinning on the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
Nature 461, 971-975 (15 October 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08471; Received 23 October 2008; Accepted 28 August 2009; Published online 23 September 2009
Hamish D. Pritchard1, Robert J. Arthern1, David G. Vaughan1 & Laura A. Edwards2
1. British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
2. School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK

“Many glaciers along the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are accelerating and, for this reason, contribute increasingly to global sea-level rise.”

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March 23, 2010
“New research indicates ice loss in Greenland is moving up the northwest coast.”

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July 31, 2010
Greenland Ice Cap Melt Is Accelerating
"A British research team studying the Greenland ice sheet has discovered evidence of a rapidly accelerating rate of melt."

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Here is a very interesting article:
Greenland’s Ice Island Alarm
by Kendall Haven • August 28, 2007
"About, “Waleed Abdalati, head of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Cryospheric Sciences Branch, was one of those migrating researchers. His boots were on the ice most years from 1993 through 2004. He slept on the floating tongue of Petermann Glacier (80°N) as the ice groaned and cracked with the rise and fall of the tide. He slept at high elevations of the ice sheet interior where the bitter cold made his lungs ache with each breath. He slept on the western flank of the great ice sheet near a large melting area, where a relentless, subfreezing wind rattled his tent constantly.”

You see, Lord Monckton, contrary to the impression you give people, there really are scientists out in the field getting nips of frostbite and struggling to gather this information for our collective edification. Furthermore, nowhere in this plethora of information do actual researchers see any indication supporting your politically driven claim that everything is just fine with Greenland’s, or Earth's, cryosphere.


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