Latest in a recent slew of papers confirming increasing mass loss on Greenland ice sheet – I spoke to Luke Trusel, whose paper in Nature last month has been  widely cited, last month in Washington DC.

In 2012, we saw the culmination of 2 decades of strong warming on the Greenland sheet, with a surface melt event that extended over the whole of the island, and a record mass loss.

In 2013, which was the first year I went to Greenland with Dark Snow Project, we saw cooler temperatures, and the beginning of a “pause” in the melt, which some scientists have ascribed to a phase shift of the North Atlantic Oscillation.
A new paper deals with this.
Spoiler: Melting continues.


Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a “tipping point,” and could become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades, scientists said in a study published on Monday.

The Arctic is warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet, and the new research adds to the evidence that the ice loss in Greenland, which lies mainly above the Arctic Circle, is speeding up as the warming increases. The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. After a lull in 2013-14, losses have resumed.

The researchers tied the pause in melting to a reversal of the cyclical weather phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. Before the pause, the oscillation was in what is known as its negative phase, which is associated with warmer air hitting west Greenland, along with less snowfall and more sunlight, all of which contribute to ice loss. When the cycle shifted into a positive phase in 2013, an “abrupt slowdown” of melting occurred.

Yet, the slowdown was anything but good news, said Michael Bevis, the lead author of the paper and a professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University.

The North Atlantic Oscillation has occurred throughout the historical record, he noted. But before 2000, overall average temperatures were cool enough that the N.A.O.’s positive and negative cycles did not have much of an effect on rates of melting in Greenland.

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Above, Ben Van Beurden, CEO of Shell, volunteers that his next car will be an EV.

Below, Wall Street Journal auto critic says the same thing, and gives some eye popping reasons.
The wave is peaking and beginning to curl…


Pulitzer Prize–winning auto columnist Dan Neil recently discussed his next car in the Wall Street Journal — and it’s going to be electric. He writes, “This is above all a pocketbook issue for me. A gas-powered vehicle would be too expensive. I plan to keep my next vehicle 10 years, at least. Over that time, the cost of ownership for an EV, including fuel (on the order of a penny a mile for the electricity), repairs and maintenance would be considerably lower than comparable costs of an IC [internal-combustion] car.”

“My other big worry: resale value. In case you haven’t been following the news from the Paris climate talks, most nations of the world have put the IC vehicle under a death sentence. Post-Paris, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that there will be between 125 and 220 million EVs on the road by 2030,” reports Neil.

The writing is on the wall. According to Neil, “We are living through the S-curve of EV adoption. The total number of EVs on global roads surpassed 3 million in 2018, a 50% increase over 2016, according to the IEA. In November Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling small/midsize luxury sedan in the U.S; and Model S sales (26,700, year to date) outsold Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 6- and 7-Series, and Audi A8 combined, according to industry-tracker”

Neil says, “During the reasonable service life of any vehicle I buy today, I expect the demand for IC-powered vehicles will drop to practically zero, equivalent to the current market penetration of flip phones. No one will want them and there will be nowhere to get them fixed; by that time widespread fleet electrification will have cratered traditional dealerships that depend on service dollars to survive.”

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Click for larger

Remember, do your own research!


In case it comes up at the watercolor today.

You’re welcome.

Below, Canadian weather reporter mentions polar vortex.

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They knew

Source docs at Climate Files.


The spreading effects of the partial U.S. government shutdown have reached Earth’s melting poles. IceBridge, a decadelong NASA aerial campaign meant to secure a seamless record of ice loss, has had to sacrifice at least half of what was supposed to be its final spring deployment, its scientists say. The shortened mission threatens a crucial plan to collect overlapping data with a new ice-monitoring satellite called the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)-2.

The nearly monthlong spending impasse between Congress and President Donald Trump, “throws a giant wrench into that long-developed plan,” says John Sonntag, an IceBridge mission scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

NASA, among the many research agencies mostly closed by the shutdown, launched IceBridge in 2009 after the failure of ICESat-1, the agency’s first laser-based ice-monitoring satellite. To fill the gap until ICESat-2 was launched, the agency funded annual aircraft flights over the Arctic and Antarctica. IceBridge scientists sought to match the satellite data by flying similar paths over glaciers and sea ice, using the reflected light of a laser altimeter to measure ice and snow height.

This year’s 8-week Arctic campaign was set to start 4 March from Thule Air Base in Greenland. But the shutdown has delayed maintenance and outfitting of the aircraft NASA uses—a low-flying P-3 Orion—forcing a later start date.

Researchers are crestfallen. The measurements are among IceBridge’s most important because they will be simultaneous with those made by ICESat-2, which launched in September 2018. That will help ensure the satellite’s accuracy and calibrate its results with past records. “We expected to be in an ideal position this spring,” Sonntag says. (He can talk to the media, he noted, because he is a NASA contractor who is still getting paid. Many NASA employees on his team are furloughed.)

IceBridge could still lose more time. The flights must take place before the melt season, and the P-3 is already scheduled to move to the Philippines immediately after its polar flights for a monsoon-monitoring experiment. As a result, the delay “could get worse if the shutdown goes on,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, and a leader of the IceBridge science team.

One bit of good news is that NASA recently allowed maintenance work to begin on the P-3, which is based at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Even if that work is done, the science team does not have permission to enter the facility to mount its instruments, including a laser meant to match ICESat-2’s remarkably precise altimeter. In the meantime, NASA’s closure means work on understanding the new ICESat-2 data has slowed to a crawl, says Ben Smith, a glaciologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “One main thing we’re missing right now is the people at NASA who have the big picture, who get everyone to work together.”

The IceBridge and ICESat-2 data sets will be merged even if the spring campaign is canceled, which would be “inexcusable,” adds Beata Csatho, a remote-sensing glaciologist at the University at Buffalo, part of the State University of New York system. But Smith says a cancellation could make it harder to fix any systematic errors that crop up in the satellite data. “If you’re planning for the worst,” he says, “you definitely want to get this set of measurements.”