Ice Sheets and Sea level: what the past tells us is likely

Watch this informative video By Peter Sinclair and the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media on ice sheet collapse and sea level rise and past climates.

"We are still potentially underestimating the instability of the ice sheets" informs Stefen Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the oceans from Postdam University. "The IPCC has greatly revised it's estimates of how unstable the Greenland ice sheet was"

Dr Richard Alley in a graph illuminates that on current CO2 levels we can expect sea level rise to impact 10 per cent of the Earth's population, hundreds of millions of people. He says in the video that "Greenland is very tightly tied to temperature, and if it gets too hot, it goes away".

Greenland melting occurring during winter with above average temperatures

Satellite data for the first several weeks of 2013 is showing that melting is occurring in south east Greenland. In summer this would be expected, but January-February is the dead of winter. Some portions of Greenland have experienced more than 30 days of melting since the start of this year, a worrying trend.

According to email correspondence with Ted Scambos from National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) sent to Tom Yulsman, all of Greenland has been 2 to 6 degrees C warmer than the 30 year mean. Tom quotes Ted Scambos on his blog: "Air temperatures along the southeastern coast for the period Feb 10 – 15 are running 2 to 6 C above normal. Nuuk, the capital, on the very southern west coast, is currently just a couple of degrees below freezing."

Related: Is Climate Change causing an exponential rate of Ice sheet Mass Loss, sea level rise? | Global Warming threshold for Greenland Ice Sheet collapse reduced to 1.6 degrees C

Greenland winter melting Jan Feb 2013

Greenland winter melting Jan Feb 2013

Images from the NSIDC 19 February Greenland Ice Sheet Today website

Is Climate Change causing an exponential rate of Ice sheet Mass Loss, sea level rise?

Greenland Ice Mass change rate 2012Greenland Ice Mass change rate 2012Climate scientist James Hansen and his colleague Makiko Sato have released a new discussion paper with updated data on ice sheet mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica, with implications for possible multi-metre sea level rise this century. It makes for some interesting reading - there is a link to Hansen's website and the paper at the end.

The thesis that Hansen has put forward for several years is that Ice Sheet collapse is a non-linear process: that with the inclusion of amplifying climate feedbacks it is likely to follow an exponential rate of acceleration - a doubling rate. It might be a 10 year doubling time, or less. This will lead to extensive sea level rise, perhaps in the order of 5 metres this century.

Related: Matt Owens on Direct impacts to US GDP: that direct losses could top 1/4 trillion per year during 2040-2050

Greenland Ice Mass change rate 2012

Greenland Ice Mass change rate 2012

From Hansen and Sato 2012 - Dec. 26, 2012: Update of Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Loss (PDF). Discussion of how the loss rate is changing.- Fig. 1.

Greenland experiences 97% surface melt

Greenland experiences 97% surface melt

Image Caption (NASA): Extent of surface melt over Greenland's ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12.

Are we close to a tipping point? Greenland Ice Sheet suffers unprecedented surface melt

Surface melt on the Greenland ice sheet reached up to 97% of the ice sheet area by July 12, an unprecedented level of melting, according to readings gathered and cross-referenced from three different satellites by several scientists.

Satellite measurements showed that about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface on July 8, but over the subsequent 4 days the melting had dramatically accelerated to cover an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface by July 12. This was the largest area seen thawing ever measured on the Greenland ice sheet by satellite measurements.

Update: Arctic Sea Ice Extent drops to lowest on record and still shrinking

Greenland melting in 2011 well above average with near-record mass loss

Professor Marco Tedesco from the City College of New York reports that extreme melting continues from the Greenland Ice sheet this year with close-to-record simulated surface mass balance, bare ice exposure, albedo and runoff anomalies. He warned that glaciers could undergo a self-amplifying cycle of melting and warming that would be difficult to halt.

Related: Record summer melting in 2010 | Greenland sets a new melt record in 2010 - sea levels to rise

'Drawing that line in the Arctic ice' - Greenpeace CEO arrested on Arctic oil rig

In the chilly waters of Iceberg Alley off the Greenland coast a little drama played itself out today between Greenpeace and oil explorer Cairn Energy over deep sea oil exploration in the pristine Arctic environment rapidly warming through climate change. Greenpeace are demanding the oil spill response plan for the rig should be made public. Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace, personally boarded the oil rig Leiv Eiriksson today with another Greenpeace activist, Ulvar Arnkvaern to deliver this message, with both being arrested.

Related: Arctic Deep sea oil: Cairn Energy oil spill response plan missing | Greenpeace: Help us protect the Arctic

Greenland supraglacial lake

Greenland supraglacial lake

Photo by M. Tedesco/WWF

Detail of a supraglacial lake from the above picture. Note the streams feeding the lake and the darker area at the bottom. This could be cryoconite, a dark mixture of soot, sediments and organic matter.


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