Research finds Greenland glacier melting faster than expected

Aug 18, 2011

A key glacier in Greenland is melting faster than previously expected, according to findings by a team of academics, including Dr Edward Hanna from University of Sheffield.

Dr Hanna, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Geography, was part of a team of researchers that also included Dr Sebastian Mernild from the Los Alamos Laboratory, USA, and Professor Niels Tvis Knudsen from the University of Aarhus, Denmark. The team's new findings present crucial insight into the .

The researchers found that Greenland's longest-observed glacier, Mittivakkat Glacier, made two consecutive record losses in mass observations for 2010 and 2011. The observations indicate that the total 2011 mass budget loss was 2.45 metres, 0.29 metres higher than the previous observed record loss in 2010. The 2011 value was also significantly above the 16-year average observed loss of 0.97 metres per year.

The 2011 observations further illustrate, even comparing the mass balance value against simulated glacier mass balance values back to 1898, that 2011 is a record-breaking glacier mass loss year.

Mittivakkat Glacier has been surveyed for mass balance and glacier front fluctuations since 1995 and 1931 respectively. In 2011 the glacier terminus has retreated about 22 metres, 12 metres less than the observed record of 34 metres in 2010, and approximately 1,300 metres in total since the first photographic observations in 1931.

These observations suggest that recent Mittivakkat Glacier mass losses, which have been driven largely by higher and low precipitation, are representative of the broader region, which includes many hundreds of local glaciers in Greenland. Observations of other glaciers in Greenland show terminus retreats comparable to that of Mittivakkat Glacier. These glaciers are similar to the Mittivakkat Glacier in size and elevation range.

Local glacier observations in Greenland are rare, and the Mittivakkat Glacier is the only glacier in Greenland for which long-term observations of both the surface mass balance and glacier front fluctuations exist.

Since 1995, the general trend for the Mittivakkat Glacier has been toward higher temperatures, less snowfall, and a more negative glacier mass balance, with record mass loss in 2011. In 14 of the last 16 years, the Mittivakkat Glacier had a negative surface mass balance.

Principal Investigator on this summer's fieldwork, Dr Edward Hanna, commented: "Our fieldwork results are a key indication of the rapid changes now being seen in and around Greenland, which are evident not just on this glacier but also on many surrounding small glaciers. It's clear that this is now a very dynamic environment in terms of its response and mass wastage to ongoing climate change.

"The retreat of these small glaciers also makes the nearby Greenland Ice Sheet more vulnerable to further summer warming which is likely to occur. There could also be an effect on North Atlantic Ocean circulation and weather patterns through melting so much extra ice. An extended glacier observation programme in east Greenland for the next few years is clearly needed to improve understanding of the links between climate change and response of the in this important region."

The project marks an important practical collaborative venture of both the joint research centre of the Universities of Sheffield and Aarhus, and Los Alamos, with funding support provided by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme.

Explore further: International science team could help to predict future earthquakes

More information: Mernild, S.H., N. T. Knudsen, W. H. Lipscomb, J. C. Yde, J. K. Malmros, B. Hasholt, and B. H. Jakobsen (2011) Increasing mass loss from Greenland's Mittivakkat Gletscher. The Cryosphere, 5, 341-348.

Provided by University of Sheffield

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User comments : 12

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Nanobanano
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
The observations indicate that the total 2011 mass budget loss was 2.45 metres, 0.29 metres higher than the previous observed record loss in 2010.


A coefficient of 1.134.

This is in very precise agreement with my own calculations, and my previous statements on another article a few days ago, where Ghost claimed I didn't know what I was talking about, where my own approximationos of the rate of ice loss, just from extrapolating publicly available data, was about 1.15 per year, or doubling around every 5 years or so, which had also been in agreement with those findings.

1.134^5 = 1.877 per five years, which is not quite doubling.

this is in very close agreement with my rough calculations, and suggest to me, based on my own calculations, that changes in Albedo caused by melting ice are responsible for around 2/3rds of the present day net forcing of further melting of ice, while CO2 is only responsible for about 1/3rd of the net forcing.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Moreover, the 16 years average of 0.97 loss vs 2.45, when adjusted for an exponential melt rate increase with a coefficient of 1.134 per year, for 8 years, gives.

0.97 * 1.134^8 = 2.65

Which is exactly "post dicting" this year's melt rate (vs the mean centered on the middle year in the reference period,) to within a reasonable error of less than one year's worth of compounding.

This is now the second article in two weeks presenting data which agrees with my own independent conclusion that the Arctic Sea Ice will experience a complete meltdown in around 15 years. It may be as much as 5 years later, or less, depending on volcanism and weather fluctuations.

Greenland will be experiencing a similar acceleration in the rate of melting. Moreover, the rate of acceleration is also increasing.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
In other words, this is the same relationship as seen in the other article, and in my own approximations just based on extrapolations of graphs.

It is a relationship proportional, to within margin of error, to the 5th root of 2, or doubling every 5 years.

Two different articles on glacier melt in the past week have presented findings which "happen" to fit such a curve, and the 15% sea ice regression just "happens" to fit that curve, AND the volume sea ice regression just "happens" to fit that curve, although slightly faster actually....

AND my approximations using nothing but pure change in albedo compounded over time just HAPPENS to fit that curve very closely, having estimated a doubling every 4 to 6 years, after taking into account winter, night time, and angle of incidence of sunlight, etc... 5 being exactly in the middle of 4 to 6...

Damn.

This means Greenland WILL melt totally in 300 years or less, not even counting whatever melting feedback happens in antarctica.
Dichotomy
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2011
Wow! You've done a lot of work on this. Perhaps you should try getting your work published in a respectable scientific journal rather than commenting about it online. This way it can be peer reviewed and assessed for its credibility.
Nanobanano
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
Wow! You've done a lot of work on this. Perhaps you should try getting your work published in a respectable scientific journal rather than commenting about it online. This way it can be peer reviewed and assessed for its credibility.


I don't care about peer review.

I'm just pointing out a relationship I noticed, which someone else probably noticed already, and just doesn't say so publicly yet, perhaps because they are waiting for it to "verify" a bit more before saying anything.

The world is a pretty screwed up place.

The peer review process is a joke anyway, as is the entire patent system.
omatumr
1 / 5 (7) Aug 20, 2011
Odd! Climategate is the key to a puzzle - ending with a solar storm engulfing Earth [1] - beginning with Kissinger's visit to China in 1971 [2] to initiate secret agreements with leaders of nations, science and the news media to:

a.) Unite nations,
b.) End the space race,
c.) Eliminate nationalism,
d.) Avoid nuclear annihilation.

Consensus science is Big Brother's way to control information.

World leaders formed BB to avoid nuclear annihilation in 1971 - a noble goal that deception cannot achieve without building a tyrannical one-world government.

Australian citizens are uniting in convoys headed to Canberra for a show of no confidence in their government's support of BB's environmental cover and AGW fraud [3].

1. http://science.na...memovie/

2. http://dl.dropbox...mony.pdf

3. www.international...ce-rally

O. Manuel
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Aug 21, 2011
Climategate was the key to decipher a puzzle - ending with a solar storm engulfing Earth [1] - beginning with Kissinger's visit to China in 1971 [2] to initiate secret agreements with leaders of nations, science and the news media to:
And Oliver has exactly as much evidence for this bizarre bit of paranoid fantasy as he does for Neutron Revulsion. None whatsoever.

This is typical of Oliver. When the questions get too intense and he can't see anyway out he tries a complete diversion and spams the hell out the site with new garbage.

Quality is his dignity.

Just as much dignity as his quality.

Ethelred
jsdarkdestruction
not rated yet Aug 22, 2011
i hoped we could avoid this but if you want to spam lies and fiction i'll spam the truth about you and what you did to your own children
Dr. Oliver Manuel Sr., Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and former chair of the UMR Chemistry Department, was arrested Tuesday, May 30 in his office at UMR for two felony counts of rape, four counts of sodomy, and one count of attempted sodomy. The crimes allegedly occurred from 1967 to 1990 at various locations in Phelps County. Some of the acts allegedly occurred on University property.
.
Magnette
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
"Damn.

This means Greenland WILL melt totally in 300 years or less, not even counting whatever melting feedback happens in antarctica." - Nanobanano

Really?
It's a chunk of rock with ice on top of a part of it so how do you propose that it will melt totally?
omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Aug 25, 2011
It's a chunk of rock with ice on top of a part of it so how do you propose that it will melt totally?


Easy.

1. Study the mind control techniques used in the old USSR - Lysenkoism.

http://www.skepdi...nko.html

2. Only give grants to scientists who will support the 1967 Bilderberg decision that Earths heat source is steady, in equilibrium, and does NOT cause climate change.

http://adsabs.har...oPh.3.5G

3. Convince the gullible that future energy needs can be met by building H-fusion reactors (like the Bilderberg Sun), windmill power generators, solar panels, etc.

4. All opposition will melt.

It almost worked in the old USSR!

Magnette
5 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2011
Oliver, what the hell are you babbling on about now?

I'm talking about a large piece of rock melting as opposed to ice. What does anything you've posted have to do with the lines you quoted from my last comment?
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Aug 25, 2011
Oliver is so far out on a limb he has to attack all science that is not in agreement with his unsupported ideas.

Soon he could be saying

The nation that controls neutron repulsion will control the universe. Much like the Dick Tracy comic strip. And with just as much touch with reality.

Ethelred