Greenland Moving Fastest in Last 9500 Years

December 15, 2015

Tim Radford in The Ecologist:

The glaciers of Greenland are retreating two to three times faster now than at any time since the last Ice Age ended 9,500 years ago, according to new research.

The news comes as indigenous peoples from the northern polar region staged an Arctic Day at the COP21 climate change summit in Paris.

Leaders of Greenland peoples, the Nunavut region of Canada and the Inuit Circumpolar Council appealed to the governments of the world to unite to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming to between 1.5C and 2C.

That is because the Arctic is now warming faster than almost anywhere else on Earth, and both human settlements and natural ecosystems are vulnerable.

That the Greenland glaciers are in retreat is itself not news. Satellite data and measurements on the ground have repeatedly confirmed the retreat of the glaciers, the loss of ice and the acceleration of flow. The Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier has even reached a speed of 17 kilometres a year.

Sediment cores

But US scientists report in Climate of the Past journal that the present rate of loss is without precedent.

They analysed sediment cores from a lake bed fed by two Greenland glaciers and built up a record reaching back nearly 10,000 years, charting the advance and retreat of the ice in response to natural cycles. And they found evidence of climate change triggered by the human combustion of fossil fuels imposed upon the natural pattern.

“Two things are happening”, says one of the report’s authors, William D’Andrea, a paleoclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“One is you have a very gradual decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting high latitudes in the summer. If that were the only thing happening, we would expect these glaciers to very slowly be creeping forward, forward, forward.


“But then we come along and start burning fossil fuels and adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and glaciers that would still be growing start to melt back because summer temperatures are warmer.”

The evidence lies in the erosion rates revealed by the lake silts. Colder climates mean more ice, which means heavier glaciers, which then grind and erode more rock. Cores of sediment preserve the annual record of seasonal change, and radiocarbon dating techniques can provide a calendar of melting and freezing periods.

The record reveals that erosion decreased 8,500 years ago, increased again, and then around 8,000 years ago the glaciers began almost to waste away. There was very little evidence of erosion, and the lake silt incorporated evidence that plants once bloomed around the lake.

Around 4,000 years ago, the glaciers grew again, and – with intervals of retreat – continued to grow until 100 years ago.

Pattern of retreat

Although the evidence comes from a small area confined to the southeastern part of Greenland, it remains a guide to the bigger picture. The same pattern of advance and retreat is matched by evidence from ocean sediments and cores of ice from Greenland and Baffin Island.

“This shows that there are internal responses within the climate system that can make glaciers grow and shrink on very short timescales”, Dr D’Andrea says. “They’re really dynamic systems, which we have not had much evidence for prior to this.”

Greenland’s minister of industry, labour, trade and foreign affairs, Vittus Qujaukitsoq, one the Arctic voices appealing for strong and effective action in Paris, said: “Greenland has an important responsibility in promoting international climate research.

“Greenlandic climate research combines international cutting-edge research with an Arctic human dimension. Our joint Inuit voice and our traditional know-how from across the Arctic should be heard and included in international policy-making.”


31 Responses to “Greenland Moving Fastest in Last 9500 Years”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Thanks, Peter. We can follow the results also on the maps below:

    Watch that cold spot in the North Atlantic.

    Also => Study: Melting Greenland ice sheet is rapidly slowing the Gulf Stream

  2. Denis Ables Says:

    This is probably just the latest “evidence” which can never be duplicated.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I think you mean “replicated”, which would imply some kind of experiment with a control.
      unfortunately, we only have one Greenland ice sheet, and it will only reveal itself over time.
      We do know that things have moved pretty quickly in the past.

  3. Does this change the multi-centennial timescale for retreat?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      best I can figure, this kind of just confirms that Greenland is waking up and starting to deglaciate.
      There is a lot of ice there, and it will take some time, but Greenland could contribute significantly
      to sea level in this century. The really extreme sea level projections require a big input from Antarctica, though.
      A good comparison might be the last interglacial, 120,000 years ago, when sea level was 5 or 6 meters higher, and
      greenland still had ice, but somewhat reduced – so a significant part of the sea rise had to come from the south pole.
      The satellite record of Greenland ice loss is not long enough yet to give a clear picture of how rapidly things
      are moving overall, best of my knowledge.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Well said. From what I’ve gathered, there is evidence of rapid climate change and significant ice changes occurring over a matter of a decade or two in the past, so we shouldn’t rule out the use of “multi-decadal”. Things that were thought to be multi-millennial may occur on a much shorter timescale in the future.

        We have only been studying this for an eye-blink in “real” time, and what’s scary is that we have no real understanding of how the Earth’s systems work (other than the many fingers pointing towards the fact that we humans have in the last ~200 years badly gummed up the works).

      • Thanks Peter. I would like to say that if you’re looking for a person to potentially interview to help defuse the “methane bomb” argument, there is a scientist named Paul Overduin who’s done extensive work over the years in the ESAS, and he posits the sources of those fluxes are from microbial sources and unlikely to be abrupt.
        Also, did you hear about that garbage plankton dying and oxygen running out by 2100 study that came out earlier this month? Ugo Bardi and Scott Johnson have already expressed great skepticism about it. And Bardi’s worked on this topic for years.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          had not heard.
          if you have a link?

          btw, should say that I interviewed James Hansen this week, a long time bucket list goal, and he has proposed a mechanism that could greatly speed up Antarctic melting. Not many people believe all of it, but he has a track record that is enviable, and people like David Archer and Jason Box are taking it seriously.

          • Sure, here’s the link:
            I personally think it’s a load of crap, as Boris Worm, Ugo Bardi, and others have already shot down this argument.
            While I respect James Hansen and Harold Wanless, I think they’re off on sea level rise. Wanless thinks 10-30 feet is possible by 2100, and he even admits he’s an outlier. And it’s worth noting that one of Hansen’s coauthors, Eric Rignot, thinks his estimates are too high. I’ve talked with him via email and there was an article where he said that, which escapes me at the moment. Still, it’s better to plan for the worst than hope for the best, so Hansen and Wanless should be taken seriously when it comes to planning.
            Have you heard of Overduin before?

          • greenman3610 Says:

            have not.
            One thing we can be pretty sure of, if we upset the global heat balance, there will likely be nasty surprises, both hydrological and biological.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Don’t know what Bryant’s game is, but he is spreading bullshit all over this Crock thread with his OPINIONS. The “methane bomb” argument needs to be defused? Actually, it needs to be explored even more and better understood. Brant badly misrepresents what Overduin has said, just as he has with Bardi and Worm. Neither of them would agree with his BS about “that garbage plankton dying and oxygen running out by 2100 study”, and Scott Johnson is a sensible guy that unfortunately has too many Dunning-Kruger sufferers like Bryant visiting his site. Scott Johnson has NOT “expressed great skepticism”. Anyone who wants to see Bryant in all his D-K magnificence should go here:


            Bryant’s comments there appear to show him to be a semi-science-literate bright-sider that really doesn’t understand AGW much beyond what his googling uncovers.

            And here’s a quote from Worm that perhaps better states Worm’s opinion on oxygen depletion than Bryant’s bald assertion that he “shoots it down”

            “If this holds up, something really serious is underway and has been underway for decades. I’ve been trying to think of a biological change that’s bigger than this and I can’t think of one,” said marine biologist Boris Worm of Canada’s Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He said: “If real, it means that the marine ecosystem today looks very different to what it was a few decades ago and a lot of this change is happening way out in the open, blue ocean where we cannot see it. I’m concerned about this finding.”

            … “Phytoplankton are a critical part of our planetary life support system. They produce half of the oxygen we breathe, draw down surface CO2 and ultimately support all of our fishes.” he said.

            This whole idea of “ocean deoxygenation” has been floating around for quite a while, Bryant, and these scientists are 100% entitled to come up with a new model and see where it leads. If they are correct, it’s just one more piece of evidence that Nature Bats Last and we are in deep doodoo, and just because you are too Dunning-Kruger and emotionally immature to deal with it does not entitle you to run your mouth like some junior high school kid.


  4. dumboldguy Says:

    These two video clips are among the most visually arresting, fact-laden, and downright scary in the Crock library. They’re from the summers of 2013 and 2014 and the news is not getting any better in 2015. They should be trotted out and rerun every time there’s new bad news in the future.

    A bigger problem is that no one beyond climate scientists seems to be paying much attention to the rapidly destabilizing ice sheets. Can Inhofe, Lamer Smith, Trump, Cruz, Russell Cook, et al even find Greenland on a map? I’d bet that Ben Carson can’t, just like Michelle Bachmann couldn’t find Lexington in MA so she put it in NH.

  5. Dumboldguy is more like Dumbassguy. You’re a noted doomsdayer who likes name-calling and always assuming the worst about things. For Bardi’s analysis:
    And I mean that the idea of a methane bomb going off in under a decade is absolutely ludicrous. Shakhova has never said that, not once. And I do think the methane in the Arctic needs thorough investigation. Why don’t you get a life and stop being an ignoramus. It’s not my fault you’re an idiot.
    And here’s an interesting tidbit that reveals phytoplankton actually do well in warmer temperatures:
    And here’s Worm’s argument:
    Dumbassguy probably feels right at home with McPherson and his loons.
    So get your head out of your ass and get a life!

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The junior high motormouth returns again with his puerile insults. And as much of a motivated reasoner re AGW as ever.

      Bardi’s name came up when Bryant said ” Also, did you hear about that garbage plankton dying and oxygen running out by 2100 study that came out earlier this month? Ugo Bardi and Scott Johnson have already expressed great skepticism about it. And Bardi’s worked on this topic for years”.

      This link has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the phytoplankton/oxygen depletion question, and Bardi has NOT “worked on this topic for years”. He is a physical chemist who works in energy and oil, NOT ocean biology. His talking about oxygen depletion as it relates to the carbon budget and peak oil has NOTHING to do with phytoplankton. He was simply indulging you with his throwaway comment on FP, and you leaped on it without thinking or understanding. Now you cite totally meaningless links to Bardi? Moron!

      What HAS Shakhova said, Bryant? I find her research to be quite disturbing, and would you dispute that if we don’t get moving on AGW soon, somewhere down the line we will likely be confronted with a massive if not “abrupt” methane release?. Is there a difference between “under a decade” and 12 years? Or 17 years? Or 100? Will the release of that much methane perhaps result in “game over” as McPherson suggests? I will again ask what your “credentials” are—what science training do you have that enables you to spout such opinionated BS?

      And why do you keep citing the same link as “Worm’s argument”? Argument for what? It’s obvious you have NO understanding of what that article says, which is basically that we need to learn more about the topic.

      And why did you throw in “…an interesting tidbit that reveals phytoplankton actually do well in warmer temperatures”? It has NOTHING—NADA—ZILCH to do with ANYTHING under discussion here.

      Yes, Crockers, we have a real winner here with Bryant. Bad science, bad logic, bad linkss, and a personality disorder that has him thinking that saying things like this is going to convince anyone of anything.

      “Dumboldguy is more like Dumbassguy….Why don’t you get a life and stop being an ignoramus…It’s not my fault you’re an idiot…So get your head out of your ass and get a life!” To which, the only appropriate response is “Grow up, child”.

  6. Peter, why hasn’t my response to dumboldguy been posted yet?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Patience is a virtue, Grasshopper. Or are you channeling Margaret Thatcher? She said:

      “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

    • greenman3610 Says:

      because I’m travelling and exhausted, and chose to attend my daughter’s graduation from MSU on friday. sorry, should be up now.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Congratulations to your daughter on her accomplishment and rest up fast so you can start posting what you got at AGU.

        You are unfortunately way behind the curve on posting Bryant Moronelly’s comments and reading them. He has been posting a load of them, and I have been attempting to educate him with little or no success. You may want to have a word with him about how spouting ad hominems and insults on top of misinformation and misinterpretation of “sources” is not the key to being a successful Crocker.

      • jimbills Says:

        Congrats to your daughter.

  7. Never mind, I’ll post a new one. I don’t know who put a stick up your ass, dumboldguy, or why your’re kissing McPherson’s, but I’ll indulge you. Here’s Worm’s take: and Bardi’s: His is in the comments section. And a further reading of the Fractal Planet Discussion thread will show Johnson’s skepticism.
    Also, I do believe that the methane in the Arctic should be throughly investigated, but the idea of an abrupt release inside a decade is absurd. Even Shakhova has said that.
    Dumboldguy, you strike me as a name-caller and a doomsdayer at home in Mcpherson’s blog. Your posts all over this blog indicate that, and I do not appreciate you personally attacking me. You show your own immaturity and lack of common sense.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      In addition to his earlier insulting-to-our-intelligence and ignorant comments about “crap” and “garbage studies”, Bryant is now saying things like “who put a stick up your ass”, and “kissing McPherson’s”. Self-defeating and stupid.

      He now posts two more links and would like us to think they mean something. The first is supposed to be “Worm’s take”, and the second shows us Bardi’s (in the “comments”section, no less) Worm appears in only a few short quotes in the first, and here’s what Bardi has to say in its entirety in the second:

      “I am not very impressed. The kind of models they use are oversimplified and may easily diverge from reality. They found that the oxygen concentration may go to zero in relatively short times, and that has never happened during the whole Phanerozoic. So, I wouldn’t worry too much, unless we really manage to do something horrible to the ecosystem….. which in the end we might!”.

      Only someone as cognitively dissonant as Bryant would read into that a real rejection by Bardi. Bardi is being cautious, is concerned about the models, makes an inane throw-off comment about it not happening in the last 541 million years (which proves nothing), and in the end says “we might screw it up and it might happen”. IMO, Bardi was merely “indulging” Bryant, who seems to skip around the climate change blogosphere like an undisciplined puppy seeking attention and bothering people he has no business talking to.

      And the “idea of an abrupt release inside a decade is absurd”, and Bryant is now an expert on Shakhova as well? She said that? Link, please. The problem with the “methane bomb” is that we are in a complicated potential positive feedback situation with melting ice, warming land and water temperatures, permafrost, methane, and unknown tipping points that nobody quite understands, especially a “looker upper” like you. What is “absurd” is your bald assertion that it can’t happen within a decade. How about 12 years? Or 17? Or 53? Does it make a difference?

      No, nothing Bryant has said here makes me want to modify what I said earlier at 12:47, and in his infinite arrogance and ignorance, Bryant finishes with what he thinks is a killing blow at me. To wit: “…you strike me as a name-caller and a doomsdayer at home in Mcpherson’s blog. Your posts all over this blog indicate that, and I do not appreciate you personally attacking me. You show your own immaturity and lack of common sense”.

      I will reply to that sorry attempt to destroy me piecemeal.
      !) It is not name-calling to say that a person who says stupid things is stupid or one who says arrogant things is arrogant. It is a statement of simple fact.
      2) I am not a doomsdayer, merely someone who, unlike you, understands the science and what deep trouble we are in. McPherson and I are both realists—-he thinks it’s too late, I think we are not doomed yet but don’t think we’ll make it. I am comfortable with nearly all of what McPherson says.
      3) Bryant does love the bald assertion and over-exaggeration. “My posts ALL OVER this blog INDICATE that”, he says. Really? (see 1) and 2) above)
      4) You don’t appreciate me “personally attacking you”? I am not personally attacking you, just your stupidity and arrogance (see 1) again) . And to do what old DOGs do when foolish young puppies overstep their bounds, I will say TS and GFYS, Bryant. If you want to gain any respect among Crockers, show some “maturity and common sense”. (And DO recognize that if you ever want to run with the big dogs here, you need to start over)

  8. As if I want or need your respect. No, you and McPherson are doomers, simply put. And you cherrypick what my links said and grasp at straws. Just like McPherson does. Your savior has already been thoroughly debunked by Michael Tobis and Scott Johnson, and his only reply is to name-call instead of providing facts. Your own arrogance and the need you have to try and make others feel miserable using cherrypicked data is laughable, if it weren’t so pathetic. Put your money where your mouth is and come find me on Fractal Planet. Let’s see how you do on a site where reason prevails and not hysteria. That’s if you have the balls, which I highly doubt.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Bryant, thank you for again proving my point that you lack maturity and “run your mouth like some junior high school kid”. You are probably a bit older than that, though. Are you in high school? College? What’s your CV and schooling, Bryant? Why should anyone listen to your OPINIONS on anything related to AGW?

      I did go over to Fractal Planet, which does not require any “balls” to visit, only a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. I found Bryant again “running his mouth like a junior high school kid” on the discussion thread titled “General Climate Discussion #3”, and responded. Go see what I said, Bryant. Perhaps the folks at FP will help you understand it.

      Bryant continues his mindless maundering and making of bald assertions here. He needs to consult his “Logic and Debate Skills for Dummies” book Soon.

      McPherson has not been “thoroughly debunked” by anyone. Tobis and Johnson have expressed their opinions about his positions and cited evidence in support of what they say. McPherson has responded. It’s called discussion and debate.

      Virtually no one with the science background to understand AGW (that’s not Bryant) totally rejects McPherson anyway. What they really object to is his timing and “we’ll all be dead in 10 years” assertions.

      I don’t know what McPherson’s “game” is—-he may be deliberately exaggerating and adopting an outlier position to stir things up and get things moving. Considering that too many scientists are too conservative and fearful of speaking out, I see no harm in GM “overbalancing” them at this time.

      If and when Bryant ever gets educated enough in science, history, politics, economics, and psychology he will perhaps be able to engage in some consilient thinking a la E.O. Wilson and connect up the dots. McPherson may be over the top on some of it, but he DOES see the interconnections.

      I have to laugh at the accusation of “cherry picking” from someone who is the ultimate cherry-picker cum looker-upper cum misinterpreter of what he cites. What I cherry-picked on Bardi was his WHOLE COMMENT, and Bryant is the one who sent us there. If I’ve got this right, HE cherry-picked a single meaningless exchange to try prove his point and is now saying that I”M the one who did it because I quoted the whole thing? LOL

      Enough time wasted. Bryant is now being fitted out for his “demented rooster” suit. He earned it with “…the need you have to try and make others feel miserable using cherrypicked data is laughable, if it weren’t so pathetic”, which is a classic illustration of “strutting in the barnyard and crowing over his imagined superiority”.

  9. I’m going to enjoy annihilating you on Fractal Planet

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yes, I’m sure that you will. Wear your Demented Rooster suit. I have awarded several, but you are perhaps the most deserving recipient. in a long time

      BTW, why don’t you just “annihilate” me here on Crock instead of on FP? You’ve already made the attempt. Or is it that your failure to do so here is starting to sink in and you think you’ll find support on FP? If so, you are really out of touch with reality.

      • I apologize for the impatience, Peter. Congratulations to your daughter and I hope the two of you have a good celebration.

        As for Dumbassguy, it’s funny how you said you responded to me on FP and I can’t find any evidence of a response at all, which means your Mcpherson’s Asskisser suit includes lack of testicles. You completely miss the point of the post in which Worm is cited and conveniently interpret Bardi’s comment to your own purpose. And I do have some concern on Shakhova’s finding but the idea of a 50 GT release inside of 10 years is extremely unlikely, as per Schuur et al: “Degradation of subsea permafrost from above by climate warming, and also from below by ongoing geothermal heat, will tend to increase new pathways between CH4 storage areas deeper in the sediments and the sea floor. But it is not known whether meaningful increases in CH4 emissions via these processes could occur within this century, or whether they are more likely to manifest over a century or over millennia. What is clear is that it would take thousands of years of methane emissions at the current rate [0.0017 PgCH4/year] to release the same quantity of methane (50 Pg) that was used in a modelled ten-year pulse to forecast tremendous global economic damage as a result of Arctic carbon release , making catastrophic impacts such as those appear highly unlikely.”
        And I have better things to do than waste my time debating with doomsdayer nuts like yourself. If you want an informed discussion, so be it, but you started the personal attacks, not me. And it’s funny you complain to Peter about me when you initiated the personal attacks and doomsdayer nut posts. If anyone should be spoken to, it’s you. Anyway, I’m done with your stupidity. If you want a rational debate, you know where to find me. And if you say you post, don’t lie about it. Actually post something.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Direct your complains to Scott Johnson, Bryant, not me. See the cut-and -paste of comments from Fractal Planet below. Your entire latest comment here, but particularly the last paragraph, is so delusional and so proves my previous points that I’m going to rely on my training in psychology to give you some free advice. You need professional help. Get some before you suffer a complete break with reality.

          From Fractal Planet

          dumboldguy Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          12/19/2015 at 9:27 am

          Bryant and I have been having an “exchange of views” on Climate Denial Crock of the Week. His last comment ends with “Put your money where your mouth is and come find me on Fractal Planet. Let’s see how you do on a site where reason prevails and not hysteria. That’s if you have the balls, which I highly doubt”.

          That rather nicely proves my point to Bryant that he is “…too Dunning-Kruger and emotionally immature to deal with it (AGW and its implications)” and that he “runs his mouth like some junior high school kid”. I also commented on the Crock thread that “Bryant seems to skip around the climate change blogosphere like an undisciplined puppy seeking attention and bothering people he has no business talking to”.

          I visited Fractal Planet for the first time while researching Bryant, who recently appeared on Crock for the first time and made MANY injudicious and fallacious statements. Here’s a link to his last comment:

          I like what I see at Fractal Planet, and find Scott and the vast majority of commenters to be generally knowledgeable and “fair and balanced” in spite of having a few blind spots. I may spend some time here and join the discussion, but have no intention of crapping up the discourse by fighting a battle of wits here with Bryant (who is only half-armed). I really don’t understand why you folks are so indulgent with Bryant (as is evidenced by John’s several comments). As a retired educator, I think ignorance must be fought wherever we encounter it, but I’m afraid you’re not making much progress with Bryant. He needs more than polite “hints” of his inadequacies (they go right over his head).

          Bryant 12/19/2015 at 11:12 am

          Apparently “dumboldguy”, or Mcpherson’s lackey as I prefer to call him, said he responded to me here. I can’t see a response here, so I’m assuming he lied. And I was so looking forward to ripping him a new one

          dumboldguy Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          12/19/2015 at 11:45 am

          As usual, Bryant’s inadequate thought processes and deficient knowledge base have led him to the wrong conclusion. I “lied”? LOL.

          My comment in reply to Bryant was actually made at 9:27 AM and is “awaiting moderation”. I can only assume that’s because I quoted some of Bryant’s bad language and the filters caught it. Or perhaps the moderator has taken the morning off?. Scott? Please indulge Bryant yet again and allow my comment to appear so that Bryant can start “ripping me a new one” (although my limited time here on FP makes me think that’s not what this site is all about).

          PS I am the one Bryant is referring to when he complains about the “doomsdayer crap he has to deal with” in his comment at 3:47 PM on 12/18. He apparently loves to throw quotes around without attribution. I am dumboldguy or you can call me DOG for short.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Final comment about Bryant Moronelly. He has apparently left Crock (to everyone’s relief), and after a bit of whining on Fractal Planet about how “insulted” he felt here on Crock, he seems to have settled back into his role there—that of an Omnologos level intellect but with a climate change believer bias. Wish him well.

          • bobcobbblog Says:

            I wish you well too, dumbdumb lol

          • dumboldguy Says:

            See you on Fractal Planet, Junior—-LOL indeed.

            (PS In case anyone is confused, bobcobbblog and Bryant M are one and the same person—-he has difficulty figuring out how to navigate his WordPress account and so has a new WP “handle”. Should anyone go to FP to bask in his wisdom, look for him under the “new” name)

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