Glaciers cracking in the presence of carbon dioxide

Oct 10, 2012

(Phys.org)—The well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise and glaciers and ice caps to melt. New research, published today in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, has shown that CO2 molecules may be having a more direct impact on the ice that covers our planet.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology have shown that the material strength and fracture toughness of ice are decreased significantly under increasing concentrations of CO2 molecules, making ice caps and glaciers more vulnerable to cracking and splitting into pieces, as was seen recently when a huge crack in the in Antarctica spawned a glacier the size of Berlin.

Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per cent of the Sun's light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth's temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.

"If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much reduced coverage area on the Earth. The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate," said lead author of the study Professor Markus Buehler.

Buehler, along with his student and co-author of the paper, Zhao Qin, used a series of atomistic-level to analyse the dynamics of molecules to investigate the role of CO2 molecules in ice fracturing, and found that CO2 exposure causes ice to break more easily.

Notably, the decreased ice strength is not merely caused by material defects induced by CO2 bubbles, but rather by the fact that the strength of —the between in an ice crystal—is decreased under increasing concentrations of CO2. This is because the added CO2 competes with the water molecules connected in the ice crystal.

It was shown that CO2 molecules first adhere to the crack boundary of ice by forming a bond with the hydrogen atoms and then migrate through the ice in a flipping motion along the crack boundary towards the crack tip.

The CO2 molecules accumulate at the crack tip and constantly attack the water molecules by trying to bond to them. This leaves broken bonds behind and increases the brittleness of the ice on a macroscopic scale.

Explore further: NASA air campaigns focus on Arctic climate impacts

More information: 'Carbon dioxide enhances fragility of ice crystals,' Zhao Qin and Markus J Buehler 2012 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 45 445302. iopscience.iop.org/0022-3727/45/44/445302

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StarGazer2011
2 / 5 (21) Oct 10, 2012
So they have a computer model; wheres the actual experiment to test the theory? Sounds like it should be possible to do in a high school chem lab!
ScooterG
1.6 / 5 (26) Oct 10, 2012
Odds are 99 to 1 that this is all bulls**t.

I'd go look at their website(s), except that I already know what I'd find: researchers, putting on a front claiming their genuine concern for mankind by studying the long-term effects of manmade global warming. Just doing the job they were hired to do - collecting/spending grant money all the while perpetuating the fraud.
JoeBlue
1.3 / 5 (15) Oct 11, 2012
"Zhao Qin, used a series of atomistic-level computer simulations to analyse the dynamics of molecules to investigate the role of CO2 molecules in ice fracturing, and found that CO2 exposure causes ice to break more easily."

Let's see some release of the figures and data used to calculate this before we just assume that this is how reality works. Maybe then see someone try it in a Lab, or perhaps go study the condition in it's natural element...
Howhot
4.4 / 5 (14) Oct 11, 2012
It's amazing how a CO2 article will bring out the morons so quickly. Yeah ScooterG, that is you, and the dingbat; Stargazer2011 your a dope too. Why don't you guys go find a cheveron oil well and breath the fresh air!
Caliban
4 / 5 (12) Oct 11, 2012
These aren't Climate scientists --they are applied physics/material science guys, who have discovered a physical process that is enhanced and accelerated under conditions of increased CO2 concentration.

But, Deniers will, of course, refuse to acknowledge that physics does not exist as a pure science independent from the rest of the sciences, and that therefore any correlation or interrelation between the sciences is proof of an agenda-driven conspiracy to deprive them of the sweet, sweet petro.

I'm with you, Howhot --those clowns are wankers, indeed, and beneath contempt.

But not ridicule...

retrosurf
4.7 / 5 (6) Oct 11, 2012
We're still within the 30 day free download window for the article. If you have a (free) account at iop.org, you can download and read it right now.

Why don't you read it, Joe Blue, Scooter G and StarGazer, and come back in 24 hours to talk about it? I'll be here, 11:30 pm PDT.
Egleton
2.5 / 5 (8) Oct 11, 2012
Jobs are so hard to come by these days.
Give the professional coal shills a break. A mans got to eat.
physyD
2.9 / 5 (8) Oct 11, 2012
"Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per cent of the Sun's light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth's temperature."
I must be missing something or this sentence is. Ice is covering 7% but it's reflecting 80-90% of the light entering our atmosphere....? They must mean over that 7%, not the whole planet.
ScooterG
1.4 / 5 (18) Oct 11, 2012
We're still within the 30 day free download window for the article. If you have a (free) account at iop.org, you can download and read it right now.

Why don't you read it, Joe Blue, Scooter G and StarGazer, and come back in 24 hours to talk about it? I'll be here, 11:30 pm PDT.


Debating junk science only lends credence to the junk science - and wastes time. Reading the junk science to begin with is also a huge waste of time. You may as well read a comic book.
Scottingham
4.1 / 5 (9) Oct 11, 2012
Scooter, you must work hard at protecting your ignorance.
ScooterG
1.3 / 5 (16) Oct 11, 2012
Scooter, you must work hard at protecting your ignorance.


As I've said before, It's not my fault the AGW industry is fraught with hucksters, fraud, and low/no ethics.

If the AGW industry wishes to be taken seriously, then they need to clean house and start acting in an honest and believable manner.

And why all the name-calling on the part of you AGW believers? How does that further your cause?
Squeeky_Gunderson
3.7 / 5 (9) Oct 11, 2012
I guess that "honest" and "believable" is defined to be only those arguments that ScooterG believes are "honest" and "believable". Scooter, you really should get back on your meds and turn off Faux news. You might also leave this forum and go find a home in rantspace where your concerns are shared by other trolls. Leave the science to those who understand it.
DavidHumus
5 / 5 (2) Oct 11, 2012
To PhysyD: my guess is that the figures are as intended because ice is much more reflective than other surfaces.
ekim
4.5 / 5 (8) Oct 11, 2012
Debating junk science only lends credence to the junk science - and wastes time. Reading the junk science to begin with is also a huge waste of time. You may as well read a comic book.

So let me get this straight, you consider this junk science so you will not debate nor read it, yet you have made 1/5 of the posts in the comment section. You seem to have a lot of time to waste.
DavidHumus
4 / 5 (6) Oct 11, 2012
To all the arguers: these insults and emotional arguments do nothing to advance the discussion. The AGW-deniers are starting from an emotional (and political) position in which they are vested, so I doubt they can be swayed by further emotional arguments. Not to mention that this brings you down to their level.

If these people are stupid, which I doubt, facts will do no good. If they are not stupid but willfully ignorant, as appears to be the case, re-iterating simple, basic facts - like CO2 is a greenhouse gas (something that's been well-established since the middle of the 1800's) and the industrial age has increased its concentration - highlights the difference between rational versus emotional discourse and takes the moral high ground.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (13) Oct 11, 2012
I Leave the science to those who understand it.

That's a great idea.

But how do we wrest it (science) from those who profit directly from the results of their own research - as is the case with virtually all AGW researchers?

With the spotted owl debacle still ringing in my ears, why should I trust any environmentalist?
runrig
4.5 / 5 (8) Oct 11, 2012
The AGW-deniers are starting from an emotional (and political) position in which they are vested, so I doubt they can be swayed by further emotional arguments. Not to mention that this brings you down to their level.


Emotional arguments are one thing but this is a science website and it is the science that should persuade - as has been by the great majority experts in climate science. I have long since given up hope of them changing their minds, by any sort of argument - but I simply cannot bare to see ignorance go undenied. If only for the sake of neutral uninformed readers.
mtruffer
4.5 / 5 (6) Oct 11, 2012
This article is not about climate science. It seems to be a genuine modeling result about fracture toughness of ice in the presence of CO2. What is wrong with it, is the implication about glacier crevasses. To suggest that the decrease of fracture toughness led to the crack on Pine Island Glacier is hugely irresponsible. First, the modeled decrease in fracture toughness appears to happen in any significant manner only after an increase above a level of 0.2%, a level that is not going to be reached by even wildest projections. Second, a crack that penetrates something like Pine Island Glacier is mostly happening in ice with enclosed air that is very old, and the level of CO2 in the current atmosphere would be mostly irrelevant.
It is really too bad that what looks like an interesting article has this added bit of hyperbole. It is hard enough to convince people of the effects of climate change and the solid science behind it, and adding this does not help.
runrig
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 11, 2012
But how do we wrest it (science) from those who profit directly from the results of their own research - as is the case with virtually all AGW researchers?
With the spotted owl debacle still ringing in my ears, why should I trust any environmentalist?


Why should you trust anyone in that case? Humans make mistakes, are prone to the usual drives whatever their profession. Cock-ups happen commonly and conspiracies rarely. Only a certain type of person would discredit a whole field of endeavour on that basis. People get paid to provide whatever they do best. To see that as a conspiracy to dishonestly earn a living in the field of climate science again belongs in the mind of a certain type of person. What do you expect a climate researcher to do but research climate and if that takes him/her to AGW and they get more money then good luck to them - they got into the profession at the right time it seems. It does not make their research biased. Or do we go back to the conspiracy ?
ScooterG
1.3 / 5 (14) Oct 11, 2012

Why should you trust anyone in that case? Humans make mistakes, are prone to the usual drives whatever their profession. Cock-ups happen commonly and conspiracies rarely. Only a certain type of person would discredit a whole field of endeavour on that basis.


Researchers in other areas of science are not participating in an attempted shakedown of American industry.

AGW researchers (some possibly unwittingly) have hitched their wagons to radical environmentalism. Now AGW and climate change researchers all share the "radical environmentalist" stigmatism - a stigmatism born of "people-be-damned" attitude, junk science, and deliberate economic destruction.

"Sleep with dogs, you're gonna' get fleas." The only place radical environmentalists enjoy credibility is amongst other radical environmentalists.
KeithMcC
3 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2012
"Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of the Earth—more than Europe and North America combined—and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per cent of the Sun's light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain the Earth's temperature."
I must be missing something or this sentence is. Ice is covering 7% but it's reflecting 80-90% of the light entering our atmosphere....? They must mean over that 7%, not the whole planet.


Maybe the Science Journalists meant "80-90% of the light which is reflected".
retrosurf
5 / 5 (2) Oct 14, 2012
Well, it looked like a pretty good paper. It wasn't concerned with climatology or weather. They wanted to see if ice was stronger or weaker with CO2:

"The fracture toughness of pure ice is 19.4 kPa m 1 /2 without adding carbon dioxide ( C=0), while it decreases to 12.0 kPa m 1/2 with C = 2% carbon dioxide. This pure ice result agrees with
the surface energy obtained as 0 .065 ± 0 .003Jm−2 for ice crystals as measure by experiments [ 27] (the fracture toughness is 24 .5 ± 5 .3kPam1 /2 ). The presence of carbon dioxide molecules leads to a 38% reduction in fracture toughness."

>Debating junk science only lends credence to the junk science - >and wastes time. Reading the junk science to begin with is also >a huge waste of time. You may as well read a comic book.

How can you possibly know? You didn't read and refuse to discuss the paper, and your assessment is clearly wrong. Your opposition does not seem to be well-informed or credible.

Howhot
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 16, 2012
Yeap,

"The fracture toughness of pure ice is 19.4 kPa m 1 /2 without adding carbon dioxide ( C=0), while it decreases to 12.0 kPa m 1/2 with C = 2% carbon dioxide. This pure ice result agrees with
the surface energy obtained as 0 .065 ± 0 .003Jm−2 for ice crystals as measure by experiments [ 27] (the fracture toughness is 24 .5 ± 5 .3kPam1 /2 ). The presence of carbon dioxide molecules leads to a 38% reduction in fracture toughness."

Sounds good to me. :=))
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (6) Oct 16, 2012
Well, it looked like a pretty good paper. It wasn't concerned with climatology or weather.
Apparently then, you didn't really read it. How could you possibly miss the references to climate?

They wanted to see if ice was stronger or weaker with CO2:
Then why didn't they simply conduct a few physical experiments to determine if their hypothesis was correct?

How hard can it be to blow a little CO2 over some ice in a stress test? Why, it's as easy as breathing!

Heck, my accidental placement of a 2 liter bottle of rootbeer into my freezer was more informative than this.

No experimental evidence = no confidence.

Howhot
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 18, 2012
I beg to differ Ubatuba! There is not a doubt, not one shred of evidence that the team from MIT hasn't nailed it and left egg all over your face. Unfortunately for you, that is exactly what has happened. Your "No experimental evidence" means you don't even know what an experiment is!

It is a real shame to that your mental state is what it is. You propose to "blow a little CO2 over some ice in a stress test." Why don't you try it? Never mind, your clueless about how to simply conduct a few physical experiments. Looser.