Greenland Ice: The warmer it gets the faster it melts

Greenland Ice: The warmer it gets the faster it melts
A portion of the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Credit: Patrick Applegate, Penn State

Melting of glacial ice will probably raise sea level around the globe, but how fast this melting will happen is uncertain. In the case of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the more temperatures increase, the faster the ice will melt, according to computer model experiments by Penn State geoscientists.

"Although lots of people have thought about from the ice sheets, we don't really know how fast that will happen," said Patrick Applegate, research associate, Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute.

If all the ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet melts, would rise by about 24 feet. In the last 100 years, in the New York City area has only increased by about one foot. However, storm surges from hurricanes stack on top of this long-term increase, so sea level rise will allow future hurricanes to flood places where people are not ready for or used to flooding. A vivid example occurred during Hurricane Sandy when parts of the New York City subway tunnel system flooded.

Greenland might be especially vulnerable to melting because that area of the Earth sees about 50 percent more warming than the global average. Arctic sea ice, when it exists, reflects the sun's energy back through the atmosphere, but when the sea ice melts and there is open water, the water absorbs the sun's energy and reradiates it back into the air as heat. Arctic has decreased over the last few decades, and that decrease will probably continue in the future, leading to accelerated temperature rise over Greenland. Floating ice does not add to sea level, but the Greenland Ice Sheet rests on bedrock that is above sea level.

Feedbacks in the climate system cause accelerated temperature rise over the Arctic. Other feedbacks in the Greenland Ice Sheet that contribute to melting include height-melting feedback. A warm year in Greenland causes more melt around the edges of the , lowering the surface. The atmosphere is warmer at lower altitudes, so the now lower surface experiences even more melting. This process can lead to accelerated ice melt and sea level rise.

Another form of feedback occurs because ice sheets are large masses that want to spread. This spreading can either help preserve the ice sheet by allowing it to adjust to increased temperature or accelerate ice melting by moving ice to lower, warmer, places.

"Many studies of sea level rise don't take into account feedbacks that could cause rapid sea level rise," said Applegate. "We wanted to look at the effects of those feedbacks."

The researchers looked at two models of the Greenland ice sheet that include some of the important feedbacks. The first model is a three-dimensional ice sheet model. The second model looks at a transect across the island and was developed by Byron Parizek, associate professor of geosciences and mathematics, Penn State Dubois. To run both models, Robert Nicholas, research associate, EESI, estimated how much warming might take place over Greenland using results from global climate models.

Both the three-dimensional and transect models showed that the time necessary for ice mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet decreases steeply with increases in temperature. Shorter time scales—faster melting—imply faster sea level rise. The interplay between the height-melting feedback and ice flow causes this acceleration.

"Our analysis suggests that the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in terms of avoided sea level rise from the Greenland Ice Sheet, may be greatest if emissions reductions begin before large temperature increases have been realized," the researchers state in a recent issue of Climate Dynamics.

Currently, about a billion people—1 percent of the world population—live in areas that would be flooded by a three-foot sea level rise.

"If we are going to do something to mitigate sea-level rise, we need to do it earlier rather than later," said Applegate. "The longer we wait, the more rapidly the changes will take place and the more difficult it will be to change."


Explore further

On a tropical island, fossils reveal the past—and possible future—of polar ice

Journal information: Climate Dynamics

Citation: Greenland Ice: The warmer it gets the faster it melts (2015, January 20) retrieved 20 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-01-greenland-ice-warmer-faster.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
17 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 20, 2015
A model.....meanwhile, back in the real world. The NOAA 2014 Arctic report card acknowledges that since 2013 the Greenland ice sheet melt has slowed from about 300 tons/year to only 6 tons. A drop of 98%. Looks like the infamous "hiatus" has caught up with Greenland.

Jan 20, 2015
A model.....meanwhile, back in the real world. The NOAA 2014 Arctic report card acknowledges that since 2013 the Greenland ice sheet melt has slowed from about 300 tons/year to only 6 tons. A drop of 98%. Looks like the infamous "hiatus" has caught up with Greenland.


Let's see your supporting citation(s) for this absolutely astonishing claim, Science Officer. it is even more obviously false than this bit of journalistic idiocy from th article itself:

Currently, about a billion people—1 percent of the world population—...


Based upon the glaring inaccuracies it contains, I predict that you will utterly fail in the attempt to substantiate it, either in whole or in part.

IOW, shut your festering gob, liar.

Jan 20, 2015
A model.....meanwhile, back in the real world. The NOAA 2014 Arctic report card acknowledges that since 2013 the Greenland ice sheet melt has slowed from about 300 tons/year to only 6 tons. A drop of 98%. Looks like the infamous "hiatus" has caught up with Greenland.

So a hiatus is 2 years is it?
Idiot - it's called weather.
Nothing in science my friend continues a trend in a linear fashion.

http://www.arctic...esco.jpg

Jan 20, 2015
gold nuggets the size of hen's eggs.

melt baby melt

Jan 22, 2015
It's always the emptiest vessels that make the most noise, and the highly motivated climate deniers spend all day waiting to be the first to comment and pollute public discourse with their sick mindset - all because they don't want to pay for the solutions to their fossil fuel addiction.

They are only a tiny minority, but they are noisy - and wrong.

Things in the Arctic are not going as well as they want us to believe.

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volumes 1979-2014
http://youtu.be/nuKVk1gMJDg

Jan 22, 2015
@ahaveland - that's a good link, thanks!

Jan 24, 2015
A model.....meanwhile, back in the real world. The NOAA 2014 Arctic report card acknowledges that since 2013 the Greenland ice sheet melt has slowed from about 300 tons/year to only 6 tons. A drop of 98%. Looks like the infamous "hiatus" has caught up with Greenland.
Let's see your supporting citation(s) for this absolutely astonishing claim, Science Officer. it is even more obviously false than this bit of journalistic idiocy from th article itself:
It's easy enough to check: And it's even more astonishing than Science Officer reported. It's actually about a 99% decrease from the record 2012-2013 season.

"The ice mass anomaly (relative to the average for 2002-2014) of -6 Gt between June 2013 and June 2014 was negligible compared to all previous years since observations began in 2002, and particularly with respect to 2012-2013 when the largest mass loss (-474 Gt) in the GRACE record occurred"

http://www.arctic...eet.html


Jan 24, 2015
ubavonatuba once again demonstrates a staggering level of willingness to ignore the clear long term trend - and cherry pick a subset of data - to try to make a point. Here is a graph of the long term trend - from the exact reference that Uba and sciofficer are referencing.
http://www.arctic...esco.jpg
This is nothing but a dodge to relieve you of the embarrassment of your previous post wherein you stated, "...it definitely does not support your position."

Just admit it. You were wrong.

And GRACE uses a conjectured post glacial rebound correction. It's guesswork, at best.


Jan 25, 2015
Here is just of little more proof of data tampering.

http://www.telegr...ing.html

You can do all the studies you want but if the data is faulty it is just a big waste of time and money.

Jan 25, 2015
"The warmer it gets the faster it melts"

Can't you even read headlines Onions?

If it is not getting warmer all of this research is based in false data. Garbage in equals garbage out.

The divergence between the satellite data and the ground based data is alarming. At one time they both agreed pretty well.

Data tampering is a crime that is not punished because the end justifies the the means in the progressive mind.

Jan 25, 2015
Ubavonatuba - It definitely does not support his position. His position - which you clearly endorse - is that "Looks like the infamous "hiatus" has caught up with Greenland."
Misdirection. The statement of fact supported by the article he referenced is; "The NOAA 2014 Arctic report card acknowledges that since 2013 the Greenland ice sheet melt has slowed from about 300 tons/year to only 6 tons. A drop of 98%." His editorial opinion is irrelevant.


Jan 25, 2015
Well as I look around my world - I see a horrible ...mess.
You must live in a sad place. Where I live the world is bountiful and beautiful.

I also see some really cool - amazing stuff (check out for example this article...)
You definitely need to get out more.

Also look at the second comment
It's a cynical commentary, but apparently less cynical than your worldly opinion.

So there is mega potential for progress... But we are being held back in a shit mess - by stupid people.
I would suggest that escapism is not actually worldly progress.

The common themes in the shitty stuff - seems to me to be both religion, and a disdain for science, knowledge, and education. The common theme in the cools stuff - seems to be science, technology, and education. You see where I am going – right?
That is a very narrow point of view. Was it not science, technology, and education which gave us the world we live in today?


Jan 25, 2015
Here is just of little more proof of data tampering.

http://www.telegr...ing.html

You can do all the studies you want but if the data is faulty it is just a big waste of time and money.
Excellent reference!


Jan 25, 2015
MR166 "If it is not getting warmer all of this research is based in false data."

But it is getting warmer MR166 - and all the data is supporting that reality. The oceans are rising, and getting warmer. The ice sheets are melting. The atmospheric temps are rising. The glaciers are melting.
Obviously, you didn't get the gist of MR166's posts. "All the data" is not supporting this point of view, particularly upon close scrutiny.


Jan 25, 2015
Hey greenonion, because I have fiund that ubamoran has really nothing to add to the conversation, and MR166 is not all that far behind him, and given that you are trying to engage them (ever tried pinning jello to a tree?) I am supplying a few links for you to use.
http://www.washin...50391194
http://www.thesta...way.html
http://nsidc.org/...d-today/
http://www.upwort...rrifying
http://ecodelmar....g-point/
https://www.youtu...84411374
http://gizmodo.co...63887582
http://www.nature...116.html

Jan 25, 2015
ubavonatuba - yes I did get the gist of MR166's post - and it is false. Once again you are willing to cherry pick small amounts of data - and to ignore the overall picture.
No, that's the AGWite schtick. You see only the data you want to see. Anything to the contrary is summarily dismissed.

For instance, you have summarily dismissed MR166's data, without bothering to examine it on its merit.


Jan 25, 2015
"For instance, you have summarily dismissed MR166's data, without bothering to examine it on its merit."

Ubavonatuba what these lads are trying to claim is that ANY data that contradicts the AGW theory is without merit. Thus, there is really no need to even consider it since the "Science" is proven.

Jan 25, 2015
So there was an article just before the second post that y'all seem to have forgotten already.

Jan 25, 2015
" MR166 presented a newspaper article - that talked about a blogger - who looked at data for 3 temp stations in South America."

It's not just the 3 data sets Onions.

How about this.

"Furthermore, around 1990, the number of stations more than halved, from 12,000 to less than 6,000 – and most of those remaining are concentrated in urban areas or places where studies have shown that, thanks to the "urban heat island effect", readings can be up to 2 degrees higher than in those rural areas where thousands of stations were lost. "

With all of the billions available for climate research you would think a few dollars would be made available for monitoring remote the weather conditions in remote locations.

Jan 25, 2015
MR166 - the pertinent point is that this article is about the melting of ice sheets in Greenland. You have presented NO data to support any suggestion that there is a hiatus in melting of the Greenland ice sheets (the topic of this article). All you conspiracy loons have is misdirection.
The misdirection here is from you, still trying to weasel out of admitting your first post was wrong.

...talk about the crazy claim by sciofficer that there is some hiatus in the melting of the ice sheets.
Actually, there is. This graph shows that northern sea ice has stabilized these past 8 years:

http://arctic.atm...ctic.png


Jan 26, 2015
Alright.

For my good buddies Scioff and ubyMORON, I will offer this bit of explanation regarding my comment on Scioff's post.

Apparently, ubyMORON is impervious to obvious sarcasm and --and this is certainly not news-- unable to comprehend the written word.

I direct your attention to this quote from Scioff's post, and supply the correct figures(from your link, ubyMORON!) in brackets:

"...slowed from about 300 tons/year[-474Gt] to only 6 tons[-6Gt]"

That sentence, as written, can properly dispense with the "-" modifier and still convey the idea of net loss, but it is still factually wrong in the first term, and --more to the point-- way wrong in terms of the units. Big difference between his "tons" and [Gigatonnes], yes?

A clue was my reference to this wildy incorrect quote from the PO article itself:

Currently, about a billion people—1 percent of the world population...
???

As for his claim of "hiatus" -- it is so stupid as to be beyond comment.


Jan 26, 2015
The misdirection here is from you, still trying to weasel out of admitting your first post was wrong.
Let's see, GO's first post said
Science Officer - did you even read the NOAA 2014 report - before mentioning it in your comment? I did - and it definitely does not support your position.
which was in response to this:
The NOAA 2014 Arctic report card acknowledges that since 2013 the Greenland ice sheet melt has slowed from about 300 tons/year to only 6 tons. A drop of 98%. Looks like the infamous "hiatus" has caught up with Greenland.
The NOAA report card is here: http://www.arctic...eet.html and says, in part:
show that melt extent for the period June through August (the summer) 2014 was above the 1981-2010 average 90% of the time
and
Melt extent exceeded two standard deviations above average, reaching a maximum of 39.3% of the total ice sheet area on 17 June
Doesn't seem like much of a hiatus, so GO was right.

Jan 26, 2015
Furthermore, this chart: http://www.arctic...esco.jpg also from the report, shows that there was a leveling off of the ice mass loss for the 12 month period of June 2013 - June 2014 - 1, 12 month period - but the report notes that
At the time of writing, data were available only through June 2014.
meaning the chart does not show data from the heaviest period of ice loss for the 2014 year. Furthermore, given that
The equilibrium line altitude (the lowest altitude at which winter snow survives), estimated to be 1,730 m above sea level [a.s.l.] in 2014, was at a higher elevation than the 1990-2010 mean (1,545 m).
we can expect an increased ice loss for the 06/2014-06/2015 period. This is confirmed by
The number of days of surface melting in June and July 2014 exceeded the 1981-2010 average across most of the ice sheet particularly on the western margin, consistent with the above normal temperatures recorded

Jan 26, 2015
So, once again, it shows that GO was correct in his assessment that the NOAA report does not support Science Officer's (wow isn't THAT a misnomer!?!) position. Meaning that, as usual, ubamoron does not understand written English and is ruled only by his political position that the settled science behind global warming as driven by human caused CO2 loading of the atmosphere is wrong because he doesn't like Al Gore. Or Democrats. Or Obama. Or some other tripe.

If that is not moronic then please, someone, tell me what is.

Jan 26, 2015
Switching to renewable, sustainable energy will stimulate the economy, create jobs, save money and clean up the environment. "Greenland is losing more than 200 billion tons of ice each year, and that rate is accelerating." http://clmtr.lt/c/S220BaU0cMJ

Jan 28, 2015
Uba and Sci have got to be on someone's payroll because otherwise, why would they care one way or the other. Are they in such fear of losing money on their bad investments that they think trolling the internet on behalf of their handlers will do it for them? Thankfully, real scientists and rational people will not fall for their folderol and will continue to pursue a sane future for mankind. The Earth is not an exclusive honeypot for the rich that leaves the rest of us to languish in an increasingly inhospitable world due to their actions and support of those causing the problems.

Feb 08, 2015
Uba and Sci have got to be on someone's payroll because otherwise, why would they care one way or the other. Are they in such fear of losing money on their bad investments that they think trolling the internet on behalf of their handlers will do it for them? Thankfully, real scientists and rational people will not fall for their folderol and will continue to pursue a sane future for mankind. The Earth is not an exclusive honeypot for the rich that leaves the rest of us to languish in an increasingly inhospitable world due to their actions and support of those causing the problems.
Conspiracy theorist much?


Mar 02, 2015
To say that "THE" Greenland ice sheet is melting is nonsensical. There are two main AREAS of the Greenland "ice sheet". One area is the coastal mountainous slopes, which is roughly 10% of the total. The other is the central ice mass, which is locked in by the coastal mountain ranges and can't go much of anywhere. It is the central ice mass which is over 3000 meters thick. The coastal ice is on mountainous slopes and easily flows downhill like the glaciers in the Alps. The central ice mass does NOT move much and only has a handful of outlets, so that ~90% will not be melting anytime in the next few centuries or millennia. For the most part, for the central ice mass to calve off into the ocean would mean the ice would have to flow uphill, to get out of its ring of mountains. ALL of the accounts of Greenland's ice melting are about the melting at the edges. Whoop dee doo. If all of that ice melted, the rest of the ice would still just sit there.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more