Greenland ice sheet: rumours of death exaggerated

A few cubes for my Gin & Tonic, please

UPDATE: Almost two years ago to the day, this story: Reports of Greenland Ice Sheet’s demise premature

Another inconvenient result from the Science is Settled Department. Great scare story this one. Evil SUVs warm climate, Greenland ice sheet slips gently below the waves, global sea levels rise 7 metres, millions inundated. Unfortunately for the alarmists, it probably won’t happen for several thousand years, if at all. As you read this, if you listen carefully, you can almost hear the Lefty heads popping in the Guardian’s environment desk as they type out the story, as another favourite of the catastrophists bites the dust:

The threat of the Greenland ice sheet slipping ever faster into the sea because of warmer summers has been ruled out by a scientific study.

Until now, it was thought that increased melting could lubricate the ice sheet, causing it to sink ever faster into the sea. The issue was a key unknown in the landmark 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which pinned the blame for climate change firmly on greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

However, the impact of rising sea temperatures on melting ice sheets is still uncertain, meaning it remains difficult to put an upper limit on potential sea level rises. Understanding the risk is crucial because about 70% of the world’s population live in coastal regions, which host many of the world’s biggest cities, such as London, New York and Bangkok.

“The Greenland ice sheet is safer than we thought,” said Professor Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds, who led the research published tomorrow in Nature.

Shepherd’s team used satellite imagery to track the progress of the west Greenland ice sheet as it slipped towards the sea each summer, over five years.

Researchers had feared that more melting from the surface of the ice in hotter years would in turn provide more meltwater for a slippery film at the sheet’s base. More melting would mean more slippage and a greater rise in the sea level.

But they discovered that, above a certain threshold, the slipping began to slow. On-the-ground studies and work done on alpine glaciers suggest that higher volumes of meltwater form distinct channels under the ice, draining the water more efficiently and reducing the formation of a lubricating film. (source)

Yeah, this stuff really is all settled science, isn’t it? If they can’t tell whether a gigantic block of ice is going anywhere or not, what hope is there for the complexities of the climate system…?



Categories: Climate

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4 replies

  1. So…..we’ll be seeing this fact reported on the ABC soon I guess….???

    What do your think Jonathon Holmes?

  2. I don’t like the word “safer”. The idea that ice in the Arctics is necessary. The Arctic had no ice in about 5000 years 125 000 years ago (Willerlev, 2007). It also had no ice during the holocene optimum, 6000 to 7000 years ago (Lyså et al 2008). The polar bears survived, and we can’t stop the next large ice age which we are sliding into soon, in the next say 500 or 5000 years.

    Willerslev:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070705153019.htm

    Lyså et al.:
    http://www.ngu.no/en-gb/Aktuelt/2008/Less-ice-in-the-Arctic-Ocean-6000-7000-years-ago

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