Rapid retreat of Chile glacier captured in images

Dec 08, 2011 By EVA VERGARA and IAN JAMES , Associated Press
This photo grab taken form a video released by the private organization 'Centro de Estudios Cientificos', CECs, shows the retreat of the Jorge Montt glacier in Chile's Patagonia in a year period. The pink line shows where the glacier stood in Feb. 2010, the orange line shows where it stood in April 2010, the blue one where the glacier was in Sept. 2010, and the yellow one shows the glacier's limit in Jan. 2011, when this photo was taken. According to Chilean scientist Andres Rivera, Chief of the Glaciology Lab at CECs, the images show that the snout of Jorge Montt Glacier retreated 1 kilometer (more than half a mile) between Feb. 2010 and Jan. 2011. (AP Photo/Centro de Estudios Cientificos)

(AP) -- Researchers in Chile released a series of time-lapse photos Wednesday showing the dramatic retreat of a glacier in Patagonia.

The Jorge Montt Glacier is shrinking faster than any other in Chile, with its snout retreating 1 kilometer (more than a half mile) between February 2010 and January 2011, Andres Rivera said.

Rivera said that is a factor and that the glacier also is melting especially quickly because it partly rests in the waters of a deep fjord.

Researchers presented a video showing the glacier's yearlong retreat through a total of 1,445 time-lapse photos. It's one of various similar projects by researchers around the world documenting the loss of glaciers.

Rivera has studied dozens of glaciers as a researcher at the Center of Scientific Studies in Valdivia, Chile. He said he and his colleagues didn't know how rapidly the glacier was shrinking until they put up two cameras with to charge the batteries and programmed them to shoot four frames a day.

"It was more or less clear that this was one of those retreating most quickly. But we didn't expect in the year of working with these cameras that it would retreat a kilometer more. That was a surprise," Rivera said in a telephone interview. "This glacier is filled with surprises for us."

The glacier is about 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) south of Santiago in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which blankets a wide swath of the between Chile and Argentina.

"Patagonia has experienced climate changes at levels much more moderate than those observed in the rest of the world," Rivera said at a news conference. "However, almost all the glaciers of the region have lost area, and Jorge Montt is the one that has the record retreat."

The researchers believe that based on a map from 1898, this glacier has retreated roughly 12 miles (19.5 kilometers) since then, Rivera said.

It is a tidewater glacier that calves and releases icebergs as it advances into the fjord.

"Such glaciers typically do retreat in response to warming. But the speed of the retreat is controlled by the ability of icebergs to break off in the fjord, not by the rate of warming," said Richard Alley, a prominent glaciologist at Penn State University.

Rivera agreed, saying that he thinks is the key trigger and that local conditions at the glacier are also having a big impact. He said his team measured the fjord's depth at about 1,300 feet (400 meters) in places, which was considerably deeper than they had thought.

The retreat rate of the glacier "is quite exceptional," said Michel Barer, a researcher at McGill University in Montreal who has studied the melting of Peruvian glaciers.

Barer and other glacier experts at a conference of geophysical scientists in San Francisco said the fastest retreating are probably somewhere in South America or maybe the Himalayas.

"We see steady but accelerating retreat of glaciers" in the tropical Andes, Barer said. His calculations show that those glaciers are losing 1 percent of their water a year.

According to a recent study by British and Swedish scientists who analyzed about 350 glaciers in Patagonia, all but two of the glaciers have receded significantly since the late 1800s and have been shrinking at a faster rate during the past three decades. The study was published in April in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Neil Glasser, a British glaciologist and one of the authors of the study, said he has also noticed in satellite images over the years that the Jorge Montt Glacier has been shrinking unusually quickly.

"We know that many glaciers in South America are retreating, but this one is retreating ten times faster than the land-based glaciers. It shows how sensitive calving glaciers are to warming atmospheric (conditions) and ocean waters," Glasser said.

He said other tidewater glaciers have quickly retreated in places such as Alaska and Greenland, but the Chilean glacier is one of the best examples in South America.

Patagonia's mountain glaciers are so colossal, and fed by so much snowfall each winter, that scientists believe they aren't in immediate danger of vanishing in the coming centuries.

But elsewhere, scientists expect glaciers to dwindle. Western Canada, for instance, is losing its mountain and many of them are likely to disappear in the next century, said Garry Clarke, a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of British Columbia.

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Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 08, 2011
scientists believe they aren't in immediate danger of vanishing in the coming centuries


Aaaaah....wrong, buddy.

The rate of net melting is exponential and happens to increase at a rate of roughly 15% per year.

This can be predicted, even without the data, using some simple geometry combined with the knowledge of the Solar Constant and the Heat of Fusion of water.

What this means is that every 5 years the rate of net melting doubles.

This means that during the next 10 years you can expect 20% of the volume to be lost, and during the next 5 years after that you can expect a further 27% to be lost.

It means 100% of the glacier will be gone in the 20th year.

Ice melts exponentially because of positive albedo feedback.

neven1.typepad.com/blog/2011/10/piomas-september-2011-volume-record-lower-still.html

Proof?

Wait 5 years...
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2011
"We see steady but accelerating retreat of glaciers" in the tropical Andes, Barer said. His calculations show that those glaciers are losing 1 percent of their water a year.


Right, but if it's currently losing 1% per year in the "Zeroth" year, then exponential growth rate of melting due to the positive albedo feedback means it will be melting twice as fast every five years.

5th year is 2% per year (vs Zeroth year volume)
10th year is 4% per year
15th year is 8% per year
20th year is 16% per year

You'll need to use 5 year running averages to smooth out the natural noise, but the curve remains true nevertheless.

And as you can see, if the coefficient is a few points off in the "real world," won't make much difference.

if it's 1.13^N, then after 20 years rate of melting would be 11.5% per year, not much slower than 16%.

If it's 1.1^N, then after 20 years rate of melting is 6.7% per year.

In any case, 1.1 buys you only an extra couple years compared to 1.15
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (4) Dec 08, 2011
And in any case, even if the rate of melting was linear, it would all be gone in 100 years if it's already melting 1% per year...

Which that's impossible, because CO2 is going up more and more, and then there's the positive albedo feedback.

What people don't get is the "forcing" that melted the ice in the first place is STILL THERE, it doesn't magically go away.

In fact, even if CO2 quit going up this very intant, all the ice on earth would eventually melt anyway, because the FORCING doesn't magically disappear just because you quit adding "more" co2.

The "extra" net annual heat input that melted the ice this past year is still there and will melt about the same amount of additional ice next year. If there was no additional CO2 and no additional albedo feedback, this would still keep melting the ice LINEARLY...

But on top of that, more CO2 will be present and more albedo feedback will be present, THUS EXPONENTIAL.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
using some simple geometry
...and right about now is where somebody who actually knows something about the subject comes along and shows you how you wasted 3 or 4 posts of fevered calculating because you were IGNORANT of some critical factors.

Because after all, you only THINK you know what you are talking about. And THINKING you know is never actually KNOWING, is it? But you are the wrong person to be asking for an answer to that question. Arent you.

This has been demonstrated to you many times and yet you seem to remain totally impervious to your... cognitive deficits.

Why is that QC? Pharmacological science not quite capable of affecting your particular affliction yet? Or are you just not taking your meds like youre supposed to?
that_guy
5 / 5 (1) Dec 08, 2011
I think the main point here is that we are winning the war on ice. This isn't a retreat, we are routing this glacier.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
Ghost, you should get a life.

You haven't proven anything. I on the other hand showed the data and trend lines computed by the experts in the field, and it agrees with what I said, to within margin of error.

I don't know why you have such a hard time understanding that, as any honest reader would at least agree that "they agree with me" or rather "we both reached the same conclusion independently and through different means".

But you don't get that, so I figure you can go screw yourself.

Oh yeah, for S and Gs, I gave you your link on the other thread/article as well, showing that you also were clueless there, as is your manner of being...
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2011
You know what, idiot?

I even put the data in Eureqa, and tried many different types of regressions, and it always came up with similar coefficients, both for the raw data and for the 5 year and 10 years running averages, though the 10 year average is too back heavy to be useful.

But I wouldn't expect anyone like you to, well, you know, check data yourself for trends or anomalies.

I mean, thinking for yourself, that would be a disgrace or something.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2011
You haven't proven anything. I on the other hand showed the data and trend lines computed by the experts in the field, and it agrees with what I said, to within margin of error.
Youre right I am going solely on your abysmal track record and your obvious instability.
I even put the data in Eureqa, and tried many different types of regressions, and it always came up with similar coefficients, both for the raw data and for the 5 year and 10 years running averages blahhhh
GIGO Maybe you should do at least a little research to try and figure out what it is that all those researchers spend man-months inputting into THEIR models, that you obviously did not input into yours?

People who spend years preparing for the work they do, then years working on the sorts of projects that YOU have the incredible AUDACITY to presuppose that you can mimic in an hour or less of fevered scribbling, typing, and fapping.

Because youre just_that_good.
jimsecor
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2011
Seems to me, just by looking at the lines, that it's slowing down. In any case, while y'all are kind of end-of-the-worlders, I look at all the extra, warmer land there will be for such inocuous things as farming and herding. As has happened many times in the past.
GSwift7
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 09, 2011
This is the part where someone who knows more than QC interjects a comment illustrating why all that "work" he did is nonsense.

The rate of retreat at what is called the ice tounge (the part that is already at the bottom of the mountain and is already floating on the water of the fjord) is irrelevant.

The ice in the fjord cannot retreat any faster than the ice flows down from the mountain. In a relatively short time span, such as the 36 years of data we have on this glacier, the rate of growth and retreat of that part of the glacier can fluctuate greatly, but the long term average rate of calving cannot excede the rate of flow of the main body of the glacier down the mountain. If the glacier goes several decades without a major calving of an iceberg, then it naturally follows that there will be some years coming soon after where the calving must be unusually high.

A simple google search indicates that the true issue relevant to how long this glacier will be around is thinning.
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Dec 09, 2011
The above story is only useful as alarmist propaganda. It is a recycled story from 1995, by the same guy, probably due to the recent COP 17 meetings in Durban, South Africa. There have been a flood of similarly recycled old reports re-released in concert with every single one of the UN COP meetings, such as last year's Cancun and the more publicized Copenhagen meetings.

In regard to the life span of the above mentioned glacier, the above story does not even mention the rate of thinning on the main body of the glacier. That's probably because, as the other guy said, the glacier isn't in danger of disapearing any time in the forseeable future.

QC, notice that the alarmist guy in the above article, who works for some private organization rather than a government funded research agency or university, is disagreeing with the government experts quoted in the very same article. Doesn't that make you stop and pause for just one second?
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Dec 09, 2011
There are many glaciers similar to this one. The Petermann glacier of Greenland is one. They all behave in basically the same way. They flow out into the water for some time, then they break off in pieces. The longer they go without breaking off a piece, the bigger the piece which will eventually break off becomes. The photos in the above story have absolutely zero correlation with how fast the main body of the glacier is either growing or shrinking. In this case the main body IS actually shrinking due to thinning, but the rate is quite small compared to the overall thickness of the glacier. The Petermann glacier on the other hand, has stayed about the same size in the period of time for which we have records.

You can tell the guy above is a con artist because real glaciologists do not study the ice tounge. They study the main body of the glacier. The calving is cool to watch though, and the video above is good for entertainment.
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 09, 2011
And in any case, even if the rate of melting was linear, it would all be gone in 100 years if it's already melting 1% per year...

Lets say, it starts at 100 units. Subtract 1%. you get 99 units. Subtract 1%. you get 98.01% and so on. When you get to 50 Units, subtract 1%, you get 49.5 units. YOU NEVER GET TO ZERO.

Math Much? 1% is not an absolute value.

Also, the article should have qualified the 1% better, or not used it at all. The melting varies based on a lot of factors, and percentage number quickly becomes meaningless if you try to extrapolate it very far. If they said average of 1% a year from 1980 levels...

And Nano, it probably will melt entirely within 30-40 years. Once something like a glacier is significantly out of balance and is melting, you're talking about lower local albedo to a higher surface area ratio...etc. This can be independent of any climate changes below a certain limit.

We've seen glaciers dissapear in this century.
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Dec 09, 2011
And Nano, it probably will melt entirely within 30-40 years. Once something like a glacier is significantly out of balance and is melting, you're talking about lower local albedo to a higher surface area ratio...etc. This can be independent of any climate changes below a certain limit.


Nah, you need to consider the regional climate over the time period in question. It just happens that we have had El Nino conditions dominate that region over the time period in question. I don't think you can extrapolate that at all, since over longer periods of time, La Nina and El Nino are thought to basically equal out. The extended duration and magnitude of El Nino episodes over the past 50 years is well documented and not expected to continue. A return to cooler La Nina conditions might lead to a massive resurgance in glaciers of the Andes. I don't think we know what will happen to them at this point.
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 09, 2011
Well, you may or may not be right, but if the glacier is indeed currently below a level of sustainability, the change in local climate would have to be proportionally larger to stop the effect.

Because of thinning ice providing less insulation, more exposed ground absorbing heat, more surface area to volume for faster melting.

This makes it easier to sustain a glacier than to save one in remission.

That said, I'm not arguing for or against the numbers and issue described in the article. A single statistical outlier glacier does not really concern me. As I've said, we've seen glaciers appear and dissappear in the last century. It's not single ones that matter, it's the total trend that does.
rubberman
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
And the trend is??? I'm gonna go with the snowman of ecuador on this one Bob say....."MELTING??"
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
To a denialist the 3 percent of glaciers that are growing are proof that the world is cooling just as the 2 percent of scientists who question global warming is proof that the globe is cooling.

Meanwhile I'll be driving my Motorcycle to work today, mid December because outside temperatures are currently 4'C with a high of 6'C forecast.

GSwift7
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
That_guy:

Well, you may or may not be right, but if the glacier is indeed currently below a level of sustainability, the change in local climate would have to be proportionally larger to stop the effect


Can you point me to a source that agrees with that? I strongly suspect that you just made that up. I searched all the major glacier research sites, such as NSIDC and Boulder, but I do not see anything that agrees with what you said.

VD:

To a denialist the 3 percent of glaciers that are growing are proof that the world is cooling


That is a straw man argument, and an incorrect percentage according to every site I can find. I will ask you the same question as That_guy: where did you get 3%? I have searched the official sites and cannot find anything that agrees with you. In fact a recent study by Chinese, US and UK researchers indicated that it's about 50/50 between growing and shrinking glaciers on the Southeast Tibetan Plateau. I can link a source at GRL.
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 13, 2011
@Gswift - Obviously, this is oversimplified, but let's say

A Glacier is stable at local average temp/climate.
then the local Temp/climate rises by 1 degree.
over a period of time, the Glacier melts to half its original size.
Glacier now has higher surface area to volume ratio.
surface area allows more melt per volume of glacier since a higher ratio of ice is exposed.
A smaller glacier needs a colder summer climate or proportionally larger snow/ice in the winter in order to be stable than a large one.

One mitigating factor is that as the glacier gets smaller, then the ratio of precipitation gets larger compared to the glacier, assuming the precip remains constant.

So instead of 1 degree colder, it may need 1.2 degrees colder to remain stable.

Due to physics, a smaller glacier has a higher percentage of melt than a big glacier.

My source? Your High school phyisics book. This is a property of heat, cold, ice, and volume to surface area.
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 13, 2011
Also, I don't care where the percentage numbers are sourced from. My beef is that relative percentage numbers are meaningless if they are interpreted or extrapolated outside of a couple years.

I said percentage is only valid if you use it within a narrow range of years or if you reference a percentage of an absolute value. Compounded percentages or additive percentages are absolutely irrelavent, mathematically speaking, to this situation.