In Greenland, another major glacier comes undone

November 17, 2015
Landsat-8 image of Greenland's Zachariae Isstrom and Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glaciers, acquired on Aug. 30, 2014. Credit: NASA/USGS

It's big. It's cold. And it's melting into the world's oceans.

It's Zachariae Isstrom, the latest in a string of Greenland glaciers to undergo rapid change in our warming world. A new NASA-funded study published today in the journal Science finds that Zachariae Isstrom broke loose from a glaciologically stable position in 2012 and entered a phase of accelerated retreat. The consequences will be felt for decades to come.

The reason? Zachariae Isstrom is big. It drains ice from an area of 35,440 square miles (91,780 square kilometers). That's about 5 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet. All by itself, it holds enough water to raise by more than 18 inches (46 centimeters) if it were to melt completely. And now it's on a crash diet, losing 5 billion tons of mass every year. All that ice is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean.

"North Greenland glaciers are changing rapidly," said lead author Jeremie Mouginot, an assistant researcher in the Department of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine. "The shape and dynamics of Zachariae Isstrom have changed dramatically over the last few years. The glacier is now breaking up and calving high volumes of icebergs into the ocean, which will result in rising sea levels for decades to come."

Image time series of Greenland's Zachariæ Isstrøm glacier as seen by the NASA/USGS Landsat satellite. Retreat of the glacier front is indicated by lines, color-coded from dark green (2003) to light green (2015). Credit: NASA/USGS

Mouginot and his colleagues from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; and the University of Kansas, Lawrence, set out to study the changes taking place at Zachariae Isstrom.

The team used data from aerial surveys conducted by NASA's Operation IceBridge and satellite-based observations acquired by multiple international space agencies (NASA, ESA, CSA, DLR, JAXA and ASI) coordinated by the Polar Space Task Group. The NASA satellite data used are from the joint NASA/USGS Landsat program. The various tools used—including a highly sensitive radar sounder, gravimeter and laser profiling systems, coupled with radar and optical images from space—monitor and record changes in the shape, size and position of glacial ice over long time periods, providing precise data on the state of Earth's .

The scientists determined the bottom of Zachariae Isstrom is being rapidly eroded by warmer ocean water mixed with growing amounts of meltwater from the ice sheet surface. "Ocean warming has likely played a major role in triggering [the glacier's] retreat," Mouginot said, "but we need more oceanographic observations in this critical sector of Greenland to determine its future."

"Zachariae Isstrom is being hit from above and below," said the study's senior author Eric Rignot, Chancellor's Professor of Earth system science at UCI, and Joint Faculty Appointee at JPL. "The top of the glacier is melting away as a result of decades of steadily increasing air temperatures, while its underside is compromised by currents carrying warmer ocean water, and the glacier is now breaking away into bits and pieces and retreating into deeper ground."

Aerial photo of all of lower Zachariae Isstrom glacier taken from aboard a NASA Falcon jet on Sept. 30, 2015. Credit: John Sonntag

Adjacent to Zachariae Isstrom is another large glacier, Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, which is also melting rapidly but is receding at a slower rate because it's protected by an inland hill. The two glaciers make up 12 percent of the Greenland ice sheet and would boost global sea levels by more than 39 inches (99 centimeters) if they fully collapsed.

The sector where these two glaciers reside is one of three major marine-based basins in Greenland, along with Jakobshavn Isbrae in central west Greenland and the Petermann-Humboldt sector in central north Greenland. The latter two sectors hold enough water to raise global sea level by 2 feet (0.6 meters) each, and both are also undergoing significant changes at present. The authors conclude it is likely that Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden and Petermann-Humboldt glaciers will lose their ice shelves in coming years, further increasing Greenland's future contributions to global rise.

"Not long ago, we wondered about the effect on sea levels if Earth's major glaciers in the polar regions were to start retreating," Rignot noted. "We no longer need to wonder; for a couple of decades now, we've been able to directly observe the results of climate warming on polar glaciers. The changes are staggering and are now affecting the four corners of Greenland."

Explore further: Analysis exposes faster disintegration of major Greenland glacier

More information: n 2015, NASA kicked off a new six-year field campaign, Oceans Melting Greenland, which will examine ocean conditions around Greenland affecting the Ice Sheet. For more information on OMG, visit: omg.jpl.nasa.gov/portal/

For more information on the study, visit: news.uci.edu/research/massive- … -uci-led-team-finds/

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BartV
2.2 / 5 (29) Nov 17, 2015
Wow! It is now moving 11.7km3 of ice into the ocean every year. That's equivalent to less than 0.003mm of rise in global ocean height. People in the article above are screaming that this could increase the level by more than 45cm! At this rate it would take 150 THOUSAND years for this to happen. Talk about crying wolf. Meanwhile Antarctica is adding more ice than this to its continent, making any current debate mute.

Shootist
2.3 / 5 (21) Nov 17, 2015
We'll grow oranges in Alaska, or ski down the kilometers thick glacier in Central Park. One or the other, both Bush's fault.
SuperThunder
1.9 / 5 (18) Nov 17, 2015
Glacier erasure!
gkam
2.7 / 5 (24) Nov 17, 2015
Points may be moot, but they are not mute.

Look it up.
Uncle Ira
3.9 / 5 (22) Nov 17, 2015
Points may be moot, but they are not mute.


What the heck are you trying to say Cher? Your point was mute as far as anybody knowing what you are getting at.

Look it up.


Why? You had plenty of letters left to tell what you are talking about, why we should look him up? Oh well, wait a minute,,,,

Okayeei, I look him and all I got was something about glam-Skippy having some sort of mental conditions. So it looks like you are moot and mute and maybe even some moo too, eh?
Caliban
3.3 / 5 (26) Nov 17, 2015
Wow! It is now moving 11.7km3 of ice into the ocean every year. That's equivalent to less than 0.003mm of rise in global ocean height. People in the article above are screaming that this could increase the level by more than 45cm! At this rate it would take 150 THOUSAND years for this to happen. Talk about crying wolf. Meanwhile Antarctica is adding more ice than this to its continent, making any current debate mute.


That would be a good point, bart --if they hadn't already pointed out in the article that those terminal figures were for the complete melting of the glaciers.
You also failed to note that there are several of these large glaciers in accelerated melting simultaneously, and likely to undergo increasing rates of melting.

Your claim of more ice being added than lost in Antarctica is also less than sound, as it is based upon data through 2008, only.

IOW, it is you who is mute --at least in regards to any substantive contribution here.
Zzzzzzzz
3.7 / 5 (19) Nov 18, 2015
Denial of climate change and the reasons for it requires the same capacity for delusion that religious belief systems require.
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (12) Nov 18, 2015
Ice retreat was as drastic in the 1930s as it is today.

http://www.nature...-1.10725
diaper_dog_dick
2.7 / 5 (14) Nov 18, 2015
Points may be moot, but they are not mute.

Look it up.
Hey mr anal retentive - you loose again.

Gkams crack gang rater team broke physorg I think.

And still he is gangrating himself upwards.

"Being very efficient machines, like a computer, they are able to execute very complex routines designed to elicit from others support for what they want.

"This leads us to what psychopaths DO have that is truly outstanding: an ability to give their undivided attention to something that interests them intensely. Some clinicians have compared this to the concentration with which a predator stalks his prey. This is useful if one is in an environment with few variables, but most real life situations require us to pay attention to a number of things at once. Psychopaths often pay so much attention to getting what they want that they fail to notice danger signals."

-Hard to let go I know.
antigoresockpuppet
4.1 / 5 (9) Nov 18, 2015
Ice retreat was as drastic in the 1930s as it is today.

http://www.nature...-1.10725


This site should be changed so that you can only debate by posting links. Cut the chit-chat and read the data. Of course the chicken littles wouldn't know what to conclude if they did that. Can't have people drawing their own conclusions. Quick! Group sneer. Feel better?
greenonions
4.5 / 5 (15) Nov 18, 2015
gkam
2.3 / 5 (12) Nov 18, 2015
"Moreover I have many sockpuppets left over from former glorious battles, all (most) of which include 'otto' in their nicks. I resurrect these from time to time."
------------------------------------------
"otto:". He has been very nasty for years.

http://phys.org/n...ean.html
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (14) Nov 18, 2015
You and pussytard have lots in common. She thought Spain was on the equator because of all the sand and heat and stuff - where else would it be?

And she said she worked in a psych ward while you say you're an outpatient in one as I recall.

Small world eh?
DQM
3.4 / 5 (10) Nov 18, 2015
@ gkam. You are seriously mistaken about that.
DQM
3.4 / 5 (10) Nov 18, 2015
You and pussytard have lots in common. She thought Spain was on the equator because of all the sand and heat and stuff - where else would it be?

And she said she worked in a psych ward while you say you're an outpatient in one as I recall.

Small world eh?


@ otto. Don't forget about Richie the Black Psychiatrist.
Maggnus
4.5 / 5 (15) Nov 18, 2015
Wow! It is now moving 11.7km3 of ice into the ocean every year. That's equivalent to less than 0.003mm of rise in global ocean height. People in the article above are screaming that this could increase the level by more than 45cm! At this rate it would take 150 THOUSAND years for this to happen. Talk about crying wolf. Meanwhile Antarctica is adding more ice than this to its continent, making any current debate mute.
Another one who just makes stuff up as he goes. Or spouts the nonsense he reads at bloggers sites. Or a combination thereof.

He genius - when you believed that tripe you read, did they also mention that the ice being added to the southern continent has been doing that for thousands of years, and that it is now adding less ice to the interior than it has been for thousands of years? Can you figure out what that means without someone explaining it to you?
antigoracle
2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 18, 2015
it is now adding less ice to the interior than it has been for thousands of years? Can you figure out what that means without someone explaining it to you?

Since you know. Why don't you tell us why there is less snowfall in the interior and what it means?
greenonions
4.5 / 5 (15) Nov 19, 2015
Here is the original article from nature geoscience that goracle referenced. http://www.nature...ture.com This is a very interesting read. From their study - it seems there was glacial retreat in the 30's and 40's (primarily land based - and due to warmer air temps); a period of glacial advanced between 40's and 70's - again due to air temp changes, and then continued retreat - primarily from ocean glaciers - due more to warmer ocean temps. Nothing that would contradict the current understanding of climate change. A quote - cont.
greenonions
4.7 / 5 (14) Nov 19, 2015
cont.
...recent record setting high temperatures have resulted in an unprecedented extent of glacial retreat in southeast Greenland, which should continue with a persevering temperature increase. Our results have implications for future estimations of sea-level rise as retreat rates for marine-terminating glaciers are likely to increase as temperature rises, until glacier fronts reach the grounding line, or when cold ocean currents re-establish, whereas retreat rates for land terminating glaciers are not likely to rise in the same order of magnitude.
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 19, 2015
Nothing that would contradict the current understanding of climate change

What's responsible for the current climate change and how is it the same for the 1930s?
greenonions
4.4 / 5 (14) Nov 19, 2015
What's responsible for the current climate change


Maybe you could learn to use google - then we would not have to look things up for you. http://www3.epa.g...ses.html

how is it the same for the 1930s?


I am sure there were many differences - climate is very complex. We did not have all the complex resources back then (you know - satellites, and ocean buoys and stuff) - so I am sure that our understanding of the climate in the 1930's is rudimentary - compared to what we know about more recent climate. However - we do have temperature records, ocean level data going back that far - and have done a lot with proxy data. It is clear that the globe was warming back then - and that warming trend continues. Here - some reading for you - https://en.wikipe..._science

antigoracle
1.9 / 5 (9) Nov 19, 2015
YOU stated the following - "Nothing that would contradict the current understanding of climate change"
So, don't go listing links that you haven't read, far less comprehend. Don't go stating the obvious that the data record from the 1930s is not as comprehensive, because it just confirms you're an idiot for making the statement above.
I'm asking YOU, based on what did you make that conclusion?
greenonions
4.4 / 5 (14) Nov 19, 2015
I'm asking YOU, based on what did you make that conclusion?


I read and understood all of the links I listed. The links I listed in both comments above are examples of the information that go into my knowledge regarding the current understanding of climate change. Synopsis - we are in a warming trend - evidenced by increases in ocean temps, ocean levels, atmospheric temp levels (all linked to data in above comment) - the trend beginning some time around the end of the 19th Century. Science has looked at multiple possibilities for the driver of that trend - and concluded that it is being caused by a build up of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. There is a natural cycle of C02 in the climate - the recent spike in temps attributed to human emissions - adding to the natural cycle. All explained nicely for you here- http://climate.na.../causes/ Nothing in the referenced article contradicts this understanding. What is your point?
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 19, 2015
There is a natural cycle of C02 in the climate - the recent spike in temps attributed to human emissions - adding to the natural cycle.

So, in the 1930s it warmed as much, if not more, to cause similar melting in Greenland. Was human emissions responsible for the warming then?
greenonions
4.3 / 5 (12) Nov 19, 2015
So, in the 1930s it warmed as much, if not more, to cause similar melting in Greenland. Was human emissions responsible for the warming then?


Yes it was. If you have a better theory - go publish your paper... Of course - your first statement about warming 'as much' is not necessarily totally accurate - and if you had taken the time to read the original article - you would understand that. The 1930's glacial retreat was primarily land based glaciers - caused by warming atmosphere. The glacial advances - from the 40's to the 70's was also land based - and caused by atmospheric temps cooling - probably due to atmospheric conditions.
antigoracle
2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 19, 2015
So, in the 1930s land glaciers melted more than they are now, but your conclusion is that it wasn't warmer then. In the 1930s was there more or less CO2 and how much of it was from human emissions compared to the present? Tell us, what is your understanding of CO2 as a greenhouse gas and how could it cause more land based warming then, compared to the present?
greenonions
4.3 / 5 (12) Nov 19, 2015
but your conclusion is that it wasn't warmer then


Not my conclusion - just the data. There are a number of links above that show this data. I will reprint one - http://woodfortre....9/trend

what is your understanding of CO2 as a greenhouse gas and how could it cause more land based warming then, compared to the present?
My 'understanding' is not the point. The point is the data. I already told you that the original article discusses the difference between the glacier retreat in the 30's - compared with the more recent retreat. Land based glaciers will obviously have different properties than floating ones. But don't ask me - ask the authors of the article. Ask a climate scientist - and while you are at it - run your theory of the cause of the current warming trend (the one since around the turn of 20th C.) by him/her.
Tangent2
2.3 / 5 (9) Nov 20, 2015
Points may be moot, but they are not mute.


What the heck are you trying to say Cher? Your point was mute as far as anybody knowing what you are getting at.

Look it up.


Why? You had plenty of letters left to tell what you are talking about, why we should look him up? Oh well, wait a minute,,,,

Okayeei, I look him and all I got was something about glam-Skippy having some sort of mental conditions. So it looks like you are moot and mute and maybe even some moo too, eh?


Settle down Uncle Irate... there is no need to go off the handle and be so aggressive. We can disagree without being disagreeable.
Uncle Ira
3.8 / 5 (10) Nov 20, 2015
Settle down Uncle Irate... there is no need to go off the handle and be so aggressive. We can disagree without being disagreeable.


@ Tangent-Skippy. How you are? I am good me, calm and settled this morning. Why you don't "Look Him Up" for glam-Skippy your self while you are being so agreeable, eh?
Tangent2
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2015
Settle down Uncle Irate... there is no need to go off the handle and be so aggressive. We can disagree without being disagreeable.


@ Tangent-Skippy. How you are? I am good me, calm and settled this morning. Why you don't "Look Him Up" for glam-Skippy your self while you are being so agreeable, eh?


What for? So that I could indulge my ego and go on rants? I don't think I will waste time on that useless effort.
gkam
2.6 / 5 (10) Nov 20, 2015
Tangent2, it's my fault. I posted some unlikely experiences in these fora, and got accused of being a liar. When I proved it all, they really went crazy, and now Ira follows me around, . . . otto, too.

It is all about "getting even" for him and otto, who took objection to my assertions and became very abusive.

A list of verified assertions is available.
antigoracle
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 20, 2015
My 'understanding' is not the point. The point is the data. I already told you that the original article discusses the difference between the glacier retreat in the 30's - compared with the more recent retreat. Land based glaciers will obviously have different properties than floating ones

Sorry, my mistake asking for your "understanding" since that does require you to have a brain.
And, what's the point of that data when you don't have a brain to "understand" it?
Look at the graph again. Notice the same rate of warming leading up to the 1930s as compared to that after 1980. How does human emissions back then account for that?
What's a floating glacier?
gkam
3 / 5 (8) Nov 20, 2015
"What's a floating glacier?"
--------------------------------

Climate on the Rocks.
greenonions
4.6 / 5 (11) Nov 20, 2015
Sorry, my mistake asking for your "understanding" since that does require you to have a brain.

That's all you have - stupid little quips. The point is that my opinion - or your opinion - are of no relevance to reality. On the point of 'how does human emissions back then account for that?'
Why would you ask that question? Here is a quick graph of C02 levels for past 250 years or so - http://www.atmos....ple2.gif You have above graph of atmospheric temps, and also ocean temps. C02 is going up - as a result of man made emissions, and temps are going up. What is YOUR explanation.

What's a floating glacier?
Perhaps that was poorly worded on my part. The point is the same - and you show ignorance by having to focus in on specific terms. The article (the one you clearly have not read) discusses how glaciers that are "marine terminating glaciers" - and are melting due to warmer oceans - will continue to melt - cont.
greenonions
4.6 / 5 (11) Nov 20, 2015
cont. but that melt may slow down when they reach their 'grounding line'. The discussion is about the difference between 'land terminating glaciers' - and 'marine terminating glaciers.' The melting in the 30's was primarily the former, and recent melting the latter. This offers a good introduction into how different types of glacier - may respond differently to different levels/types of warming/cooling. You in your simpleton approach, are looking for linear correlations - when they do not exist. Read the article.
antigoracle
1.4 / 5 (11) Nov 21, 2015
And, you in your brainless approach doesn't have a clue. Just keep tossing out graphs that you are incapable of comprehending. Look at that CO2 graph again. Notice the dips from 1820-1840 and then again from 1930-1950. Did human emissions stop/slow down during these periods? Again, I ask what is your understanding of CO2 as a GHG.
Zzzzzzzz
4.6 / 5 (10) Nov 21, 2015
Delusional psychotic types fall to juvenile sophmoric behaviour very easily. When your veneer of sanity depends on the defense of your fragile delusion, desperation takes over quickly. The emotional switch to fighting stance is a sure indicator.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (9) Nov 21, 2015
What's a floating glacier?

Perhaps that was poorly worded on my part.


Not at all. Braindead againstseeing is just too caught up in his denial to converse. Stupid is as stupid does.
greenonions
4.6 / 5 (11) Nov 21, 2015
Antigoracle
Again, I ask what is your understanding of CO2 as a GHG.


And again - I repeat the same statement - that my 'understanding' of a topic is irrelevant to reality. I see the dips in C02 levels. So what? The C02 cycle is very complex. Here - read this - http://www.columb...rbon.htm Now why would you keep asking for my 'understanding' of a subject - when much more informed scientists than me have given you access to this level of information.

Do you understand what I mean when I say that you are looking for linear relationships - when they don't exist?

If you contest the consensus that green house gasses are responsible for the current warming trend - please enlighten us with your alternative hypothesis.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.8 / 5 (9) Nov 21, 2015
Tangent2, it's my fault. I posted some unlikely experiences in these fora, and got accused of being a liar. When I proved it all, they really went crazy, and now Ira follows me around, . . . otto, too.

It is all about "getting even" for him and otto, who took objection to my assertions and became very abusive.

A list of verified assertions is available.
But then you posted an obvious lie just 2 hours ago, in this thread
http://phys.org/n...tes.html

-and expected people to believe it because you were 'in the business'.

You lie pretty much every day.

This has been proven time and again.
waste time on that useless effort.
Well then you should MYOB when the good people here rightly attack liars and fact fabricators and expose them for the scum that they are.

We dont think that we are wasting our time.
jim_xanara
1 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2015
Points may be moot, but they are not mute.

Look it up.


But the data speak for themselves. :-)

Actually I appreciate mistakes like that. We're seldom going to get "Full disclosure: I'm an idiot", so it helps save time.
SamB
1 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2015
Denial of climate change and the reasons for it requires the same capacity for delusion that religious belief systems require.


And this coming from a member of the Church of Global Warming!
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2015
A list of verified assertions is available
Yes we do have a list. A small sampling...

-Pu is raining down on idaho

-Fallout is the main cause of lung cancer

-H2-initiated fission events in dirty molten Pu at fukushima could throw vessel parts 130km even though actual thermonukes cant do this

--H2 cant detonate even when unconfined

-Swimming pools are commonly used to cool houses

-Open valves are not considered leaks in the 'gas' business

-Mosquitoes are attracted to UV

-all nitrogen oxides are all triple bonded

-clean coal plants are not currently running or being built

-dried manure is a major constituent of pollution in the central valley and is called volatile solids

-calories and BTUs are not different names for the same thing

-etc. All convincingly verified to be lies, in these threads.

Im sure others here have their own lists.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2015
What's a floating glacier?

Perhaps that was poorly worded on my part.


Not at all. Braindead againstseeing is just too caught up in his denial to converse. Stupid is as stupid does.

Look what floats up from the depths of it's ignorance.
Magganus, I'm still waiting for you to tell us, as you claim, why the interior of Antarctica is receiving less snowfall and what that means?
greenonions
5 / 5 (8) Nov 21, 2015
antigoracle
Magganus, I'm still waiting for you to tell us


Well while you wait for that - why don't you give us your alternative hypothesis regarding the current warming trend that started around the turn of the 20th century - or can you only ask questions - but not able to answer any?
eachus
1 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2015
I hate to say it, but this seems to be a case of ignoring the forest for the trees. Greenland is a cup of sorts, depressed land holding a lot of water and ice. Basically, this cup was pushed down by the last ice age, and is slowly rebounding up. (See isostacy and eustasy for more details.) In other words, all of the continents and oceans are floating on the asthenosphere. Some areas are rebounding from the last ice age, including parts of the UK, North America, Greenland, and the North Atlantic seafloor. Are sea levels rising or falling as a result? Depends on how you measure. Using any specific point as a reference, you are more likely to be measuring the change in altitude of that point than global sea level changes.

Flame retardant: Just to be clear, I do believe that global sea levels are rising. However, local subsidence makes this an immediate major issue for some areas like Venice, not global warming.
Caliban
5 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2015
I hate to say it, but this seems to be a case of ignoring the forest for the trees. Greenland is a cup of sorts, depressed land holding a lot of water and ice. Basically, this cup was pushed down by the last ice age, and is slowly rebounding up. (See isostacy and eustasy for more details.)


Yes, eachus, this is correct. However, with this:

In other words, all of the continents and oceans are floating on the asthenosphere. Some areas are rebounding from the last ice age, including parts of the UK, North America, Greenland, and the North Atlantic seafloor.[...]


...it would appear that you've failed to recognise the logical consequences of having a (pretty much) constant amount of 'floating' landmass. The only variable is the amount of water present in the ocean basins acting counter to the famous rebound --which happens at the proverbial geologic pace.

Sea level rise can, has, and appears to be far outpacing uplift.

AGreatWhopper
2 / 5 (4) Dec 16, 2015

gkam2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 18, 2015
"Moreover I have many sockpuppets left over from former glorious battles, all (most) of which include 'otto' in their nicks. I resurrect these from time to time."
------------------------------------------
"otto:". He has been very nasty for years.

DQM 1/ 5 (10)

@ gkam. You are seriously mistaken about that.


Says viko_mx's sock puppet.

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