Greenland’s Ice Loss Tracking High

December 10, 2019

New research boosting alarms about Greenland melt.
The lead researcher is savvy enough to know the work has political implications, and readers need to act on it. He tweets accordingly.

Congruent with the spirit of activism we are hearing from scientists at the annual American Geophysical Union conference, where I am all week.

Washington Post:

The Greenland ice sheet’s losses have accelerated so fast since the 1990s it is now shedding more than seven times as much ice each year, according to 89 scientists who use satellites to study the area.

The sheet’s total losses nearly doubled each decade, from 33 billion tons per year in the 1990s to an average now of 254 billion tons annually. Since 1992, nearly 4 trillion tons of Greenland ice have entered the ocean, the new analysis found, equivalent to roughly a centimeter of global sea-level rise.

While a centimeter may not sound like much, that uptick is already affecting millions.

“Around the planet, just 1 centimeter of sea-level rise brings another 6 million people into seasonal, annual floods,” said Andrew Shepherd, a University of Leeds professor who co-led the massive collaboration with NASA researcher Erik Ivins.

The results, from a scientific group called the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE), were publishedTuesday in the journal Nature.

The research suggests an alarming pace of change for the Earth’s second-largest body of ice, which could theoretically drive over 20 feet of sea-level rise over a millennium.

The recent Greenland losses, the experts suggest, match a more dire sea-level projection outlined by the United Nations’ chief climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Under that high-end scenario, Greenland could contribute about 16 centimeters, or around half a foot, to ocean levels by 2100.

“What that means is that really, the midrange scenario becomes what was previously the upper scenario, and they will have to invent a new upper scenario, because one currently doesn’t exist,” Shepherd said.

Much more sea-level rise would then come from melting in Antarctica and smaller glaciers around the world, along with the expansion of ocean water that stems from warmer temperatures. It is not yet clear whether these other components of the sea-level equation are also following the high end, or worst-case, path, however, and the current study was focused only on Greenland. (While Greenland is the biggest contributor to sea-level rise at the present moment, Antarctica ultimately has a larger long-term potential to raise seas.)

Sea-level rise would only continue — and, perhaps, accelerate further — after 2100.

Greenland is the world’s largest island, covered with a continuous sheet of ice produced by many thousands of years of snowfall. The ice sheet’s size rivals that of Alaska, and its center is well over a mile thick.

BBC:

Greenland is losing ice seven times faster than it was in the 1990s. 

The assessment comes from an international team of polar scientists who’ve reviewed all the satellite observations over a 26-year period. 

They say Greenland’s contribution to sea-level rise is currently tracking what had been regarded as a pessimistic projection of the future.

It means an additional 7cm of ocean rise could now be expected by the end of the century from Greenland alone.

This threatens to put many millions more people in low-lying coastal regions at risk of flooding. 

It’s estimated roughly a billion live today less than 10m above current high-tide lines, including 250 million below 1m. 

“Storms, if they happen against a baseline of higher seas – they will break flood defences,” said Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University.

“The simple formula is that around the planet, six million people are brought into a flooding situation for every centimetre of sea-level rise. So, when you hear about a centimetre rise, it does have impacts,” he told BBC News

The British scientist is the co-lead investigator for Imbie – the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise.

It’s a consortium of 89 polar experts drawn from 50 international organisations. 

The group has reanalysed the data from 11 satellite missions flown from 1992 to 2018. These spacecraft have taken repeat measurements of the ice sheet’s changing thickness, flow and gravity. The Imbie team has combined their observations with the latest weather and climate models.

What emerges is the most comprehensive picture yet of how Greenland is reacting to the Arctic’s rapid warming. This is a part of the globe that has seen a 0.75C temperature rise in just the past decade.

24 Responses to “Greenland’s Ice Loss Tracking High”

  1. terry123a Says:

    NOAA ocean rise trend Relative Sea Level Trend
    710-001 Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia

    is zero since 1950 so were is that water going? Per Nasa it is showing up in Antarctica.
    According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.

    Today, northwest Greenland hovers in the 30s and low 40s Fahrenheit and weathers snowstorms in summer. But average summer temperatures in the early Holocene (8,000 to 11,000 years ago) and Last Interglacial (116,000 to 130,000 years ago) climbed well into the 50s.

    Perhaps the world is not ending.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      …is zero since 1950 so were is that water going? Per Nasa it is showing up in Antarctica.

      No.
      Increased melting from Antarctic glaciers has resulted in more fresh water pouring into the surrounding sea. This water freezes more readily, giving the continent a larger “skirt” of thin sea ice.

      *sigh*
      Now here’s the part where you give the citation for your claims and I have to spend time to read it in depth to figure out how you have grossly misinterpreted (as with the cooling stratosphere) or misapplied (as with localized measurements) the data.

      • terry123a Says:

        You can do anything you want but the data I looked up states what it states. You are simply looking for a reason to reject any data which does not fit your p[preconceived ideas. Nobody at NASA was talking about a skirt of thin sea ice, they were talking about ice gain.

        https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2836/antarcticas-contribution-to-sea-level-rise-was-mitigated-by-snowfall/ is one site. there are many others and if you look a bit you can even get the papers though some are behind paywalls.
        \
        When I look at land not subsiding and zero ocean rise trend at NOAA I do not reject the data, I look around to see what may be causing the ocean rise trend to be what it is. Increased snowfall in Antarctica seems like a reasonable remover of ocean water so one has zero gain ocean rise trends. If you bother to look up the example you will note the ocean levels vary a lot so coming up with ocean rise trends is not easy. Most of the studies have flaws in that the data sources were not looked at to remove land subsiding or rising for that matter and the satellite measurements have a large number of assumption built into the computations which may or may not represent reality.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          The very first paragraph of that article says that there is a net ice loss. The extra snowfall only →mitigates← the amount lost, but does not compensate for it.

          A new NASA-led study has determined that an increase in snowfall accumulation over Antarctica during the 20th century mitigated sea level rise by 0.4 inches. However, Antarctica’s additional ice mass gained from snowfall makes up for just about a third of its current ice loss.

          The second paragraph hammers it home.

          “Our findings don’t mean that Antarctica is growing; it’s still losing mass, even with the extra snowfall,” said Brooke Medley, a glaciologist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study, which was published in Nature Climate Change on Dec. 10.

          I’ll quote you: “You are simply looking for a reason to reject any data which does not fit your preconceived ideas.”

    • grindupbaker Says:

      “northwest Greenland…30s and low 40s Fahrenheit…Last Interglacial…into the 50s”. It’s correct that the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) surface temperature was 5 to 8 degrees higher than present at 126,000 to 122,000 years ago per 20:10 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqJLwJwndLI At that time it is estimated that there was 50% of the present ice on the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) per 17:28 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTTlAAiwgwM and this is the issue. It indicates that Greenland will have 50% of the present ice when its surface temperature is 5 to 8 degrees higher than present, and its surface temperature is rising and the loss of 50% of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) will raise global sea level by 3.5 metres. You have accidentally pointed out the troubling issue.

      • terry123a Says:

        There is no troubling issue, there is reality. Greenland temperatures in numerous studies vary a lot. There is no God saying Greenland ice extent is fixed and in the last few hundred thousand years it has varied a lot.

        The actual issue is whether current warming trends are caused by man. If one looks at past colder and warmer periods in only the last 7000 years, it is extremely unlikely man is currently warming the planet no matter how many people claim differently. Tree ring temperature reconstructions are not perfect and have their problems but the one easy to find listed below shows on average we have been in a cold period for several thousand years which may be ending as the current spike is similar to the one 7000 years ago. That suggests the sun is the actual driver of climate not you driving your SUV. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendroclimatology#/media/File:Yamal50.gif

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          That suggests the sun is the actual driver of climate not you driving your SUV.

          · We can see the sun’s output. If anything, the sun’s output has been lower than expected in its last few 11-year cycles.

          · The stratosphere is measurably cooling. If the sun were increasing output we’d see the stratosphere (high) warming along with the troposphere (low). Instead, the stratosphere cooling while the troposphere warms is a direct indicator of the Greenhouse Effect. Rather than escape to space through the stratosphere, more heat is being trapped by greenhouse gases.

          CAN
          YOU
          UNDERSTAND?

          As for the dendrochronology record for a patch of forest on the Yamal Peninsula (at best showing temperatures at a single spot representing a tiny fraction of a percent of Earth’s surface), I see you didn’t even both to take into account confounding factors when considering tree ring attributes:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendroclimatology#Confounding_factors

          • grindupbaker Says:

            It’s because temperature lapse rate is decreasing with altitude in the troposphere, no change in the tropopause, increasing with altitude in the stratosphere so moving the average place from which LWR reaches upper/lower surfaces of each closer to those surfaces by increasing GHGs causes:
            – warming effect in the troposphere,
            – no effect in the tropopause,
            – cools the stratosphere
            because Flux-5.67*( integrated average t/100)**4

          • grindupbaker Says:

            I mean “cooling effect the stratosphere”

        • grindupbaker Says:

          “in the last few hundred thousand years it has varied a lot”. I’m very young & edgy so I’ll have to bow to your geezer knowledge. I don’t own an SUV, which is good because else it would be spooky (like when they say they modified a movie to fit my telly) and I’d be searching for you under the kitchen sink.

  2. Phil Scadden Says:

    how about showing where your data came from? here doesnt seem to support Antarctica gaining ice.


    would suggest you cherry-picked your tide station carefully. Do you really believe that is best way to understand global change? Pick one piece of data supports your conclusion?

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      It seems clear that either Terry is not an honest actor or is incapable of understanding heat, scale or dynamic systems.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        All true—-Terry has been here on Crock using several “handles”—-his dishonesty and ignorance have been displayed many times no matter what he calls himself.

      • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

        Who knows what teri’s agenda is. Simplest is just accept it is an idiot and correct the junk for other readers.

    • terry123a Says:

      How about Tower Pier UK or Miami Beach FL. Neither show rise ocean trends. A whole lot of stations are sinking, every one along the east coast for example is sinking due to various causes, some faster than others. If one wants to measure actual ocean trends those stations need to either be eliminated or adjusted. The problem with adjustments is most have never been measured for the sink rate and those few which have only for relatively short periods.

      Throwing all the stations in a pot is not science on ocean rise, it is voodoo pretending to be science. Most studies that I have seen on ocean rise never adjust out stations sinking or rising, most in fact simply average things out usually by regions to claim the number is some kind of ocean rise trend. NOAA is guilty of that in several of its papers but they are not the only ones doing it.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “Throwing all the stations in a pot is not science on ocean rise…”, says our resident moran.

        Hmmmm——since the oceans are one big interconnected “pot” of water, it would seem logical that an average of as many sea level measurements as possible would tell us if it’s rising or sinking. Oh, I forgot—-Terry-of-many-names doesn’t do logic, just ignorant denier bullshit.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        “Throwing all the stations in a pot is not science on ocean rise, it is voodoo pretending to be science.”

        Ocean height is not even around the globe.
        Ocean height is not even around the globe.
        Ocean height is not even around the glove.

        For example, the Atlantic Gulf Stream current tends to be a rounded ridge across the surface of the ocean. Parts of ocean under areas of low atmospheric pressure bulge up, while areas under high pressure are pushed down (that’s why very-low-pressure hurricanes bring bulges of water onshore when they hit land). Generally, due to wind, temperature and planetary rotation, the water level at the western edge of the Pacific ocean is higher than the eastern edge.

        That means, to measure total ocean expansion you have to measure the volume of the ocean by altimetry measurements spread across its entire surface.

        Due to a variety of factors, including temperature differences, land subsidence or lift, changes in strengths of sea currents, slight gravitational shifts, different areas of coastlines will see different amounts of sea level rise. That’s why each coastal city can have different expectations on how much SLR to expect.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        How do you explain the increased days tidal flooding of Miami (built on limestone)? Not barrier island Miami Beach, but the City of Miami.

        Tidal stations are used to measure local sea level rise along a spot of coast). They’re useful to track the tides (depending on position of moon, sun and storm-pushed seas) at a spot along the coast, but not the increasing volume of the total ocean from glacial melt and thermal expansion.

  3. redskylite Says:

    Seems that the pessimistic IPCC scenarios are the winners – Scientists/policymakers expected a stronger fighting reaction than reality. Please don’t make the same mistake now.

    ===========================================

    “It’s heartbreaking,” said Simon Kinneen, the chairman of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Cod stocks have been hard hit by successive heat waves in the Gulf of Alaska, fishery scientists say.

    The report also said the melt of the ice sheet over Greenland this year rivaled that of 2012, the previous year of record ice loss.

    It also detailed a shift of Arctic permafrost regions from being a sink for carbon dioxide emissions to a source of them, as warming uncovers soil, triggering microbes to emit the main gas linked to global warming.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-arctic/climate-change-hitting-top-u-s-fishery-in-the-arctic-noaa-idUSKBN1YE2F2

    • redskylite Says:

      “This is a wake-up call to world leaders that they must take far more decisive action to tackle the climate emergency or risk betraying younger generations further.”

      http://news.trust.org/item/20191209233025-jftpz/

    • redskylite Says:

      “Greenland is losing ice faster than in the 1990s and is tracking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s high-end climate scenario.

      As a result, 40 million more people will be exposed to coastal flooding by 2100.

      A team of 89 polar scientists from 50 international organisations have produced the most complete picture of Greenland ice loss to date.”

      http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/4514/greenland_losing_ice_faster_than_expected

    • redskylite Says:

      “The assessment comes from an international team of polar scientists who’ve reviewed all the satellite observations over a 26-year period.

      They say Greenland’s contribution to sea-level rise is currently tracking what had been regarded as a pessimistic projection of the future.

      It means an additional 7cm of ocean rise could now be expected by the end of the century from Greenland alone.

      This threatens to put many millions more people in low-lying coastal regions at risk of flooding.

      It’s estimated roughly a billion live today less than 10m above current high-tide lines, including 250 million below 1m.”

      https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48387030

  4. redskylite Says:

    By the way we are also losing oxygen at increasing rates. STOP burning fossils.

    “With this report, the scale of damage climate change is wreaking upon the ocean comes into stark focus. As the warming ocean loses oxygen, the delicate balance of marine life is thrown into disarray,” said Dr Grethel Aguilar, IUCN Acting Director General. “The potentially dire effects on fisheries and vulnerable coastal communities mean that the decisions made at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference are even more crucial. To curb ocean oxygen loss alongside the other disastrous impacts of climate change, world leaders must commit to immediate and substantial emission cuts.”

    https://www.iucn.org/news/marine-and-polar/201912/marine-life-fisheries-increasingly-threatened-ocean-loses-oxygen-iucn-report


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