Greenland melting
January 25, 2013 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Melting Point Greenland has some sublime hi-def video of, well, Greenland melting. The summer 2012 melt was unprecedented, it alone rose global sea-levels by 1mm. The scientist-run blog Greenland Melting is following. Why Greenland's melting could be the biggest climate disaster of all.
posted by stbalbach (43 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't find the part where it says that global sea-levels have risen 1mm. Thanks in advance to anyone who can point it out for me.
posted by No Robots at 10:04 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's mentioned in the last link.
posted by localroger at 10:13 AM on January 25, 2013


Just consider one striking statistic from Box: The summer melt from Greenland in 2012 alone added a millimeter to the global sea level. And not only is that millimeter felt around the globe, but it is felt in specific places. For instance, it rode atop the wall of water that superstorm Sandy pushed inland at New York and New Jersey.

About halfway down.
posted by rtha at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2013


Everything is fine. Return to your places of business.
posted by Avenger at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I roll my saving throw Vs Scientific proof.
posted by Mezentian at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I roll my saving throw Vs Scientific proof.

Critical failure! The water rises 3mm instead of 1mm.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:26 AM on January 25, 2013 [19 favorites]


Just take the extra melt from Greenland and send it to the places suffering from drought. If Mother Nature won't do her damn job because we're choking her to death, we'll do it for her!
posted by charred husk at 10:30 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just watched/listened to the video. A bit short on research/science and a bit long on the knock-on socioeconomic effects within Greenland itself for my personal taste. It feels a bit parochial all told, but it is nevertheless accessible to a global audience if you're patient.

The blog is good info and can be digested quickly.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:45 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to capitalize on the real estate boom from soon-to-be-beachfront properties before they become underwater properties?

Pun most definitely intended.
posted by Behemoth at 10:56 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to capitalize on the real estate boom from soon-to-be-beachfront properties before they become underwater properties?

Ask Lex Luthor
posted by Mezentian at 10:57 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe sea-level rise will not occur uniformly along all the earth's coastlines. Due to gravity, differences in salinity, etc, some coastlines will experience higher sea-level rise than others, notably the Atlantic seaboards of North America and Europe.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:59 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The world's money interests will not permit the prospect of 23 feet of sea level rise resulting from Greenland melting (and more, from the melting of world's glaciers and Antarctica).

And, the world's money interests will not permit the shutdown of easy sources of profits like oil wells and coal mines.

So, these things being in conflict, the world's money interests will proceed with geoengineering experiments. Watch for plans to construct a space sunshade, as proposed by Edward Teller et al. (You remember Edward better as father of the H-bomb).
posted by beagle at 11:01 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just read somewhere else that global warming was slowing down. The constant noise makes me feel stupid like Homer Simpson. I guess that's what people in power and their media courtiers want.
posted by colie at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen articles on this melt crop up from time to time the past half-year, and they rarely do much to address a major caveat about interpreting this event, found in the NASA article of July 24, 2012 that they invariably cite:

"Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time," says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. "But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome."

Having read the first article by Freedman—which contains a few phrases that set the klaxons of speculation off, such as "[o]bviously it gets you thinking"—I haven't seen a lot to address that point above, beyond some projections that the next period of dormancy won't last anywhere near 150 years. Freedman mentions that this happened in 1889, but seems afterward to forget the point.

I'm not a "climate skeptic," but ordinarily skeptical—that is, wary of the sensational, particularly when it is trumpeted under the banner of a cause I care about. I'm here to ask with all sincerity, of anyone better educated in climate science generally, and in the record melt of Greenland this year in particular: is there anything we can conclude from this melt now, that we were unable to do in July? It is one of those issues that, when given the gravity it receives in some popular presses, feed into the hands of the "skeptics" (a poorly chosen word for those staunch of belief): this is an event that happens regularly, on a relatively short time scale. And it is lazy reporting and thinking (this on the part of NASA now, even) to put a word like "unprecedented" in a headline, and then insist on its precedence and ordinariness in the story. That is precisely what fear mongering looks like. It is a shame to see it come from honestly inquiring minds, and about an honestly grave subject.
posted by mcoo at 11:12 AM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The world's money interests will not permit the prospect of 23 feet of sea level rise

Those interests will get Governments to pass laws to 'fight climate change' and make sure the taxes from the 'use market forces solution' go to them or through them - for a small cut of the money to 'cover their expenses'.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:22 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time," says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. "But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome."

It's pretty well-understood what caused the recent Greenland ice cap surface melt - the Jet Stream moved from its traditional or "normal" pattern and trapped warm air for an extended period over Greenland, causing the melt.

It's thought that declining sea ice levels are in part responsible for the change in Jet Stream patterns - it's kind of a feedback loop.

The changing Jet Stream pattern is responsible for the increase in flooding across Britain, for example. It's also responsible for the return of cold, snowy winter in Japan (traditionally Japan's cold and snowy winters would have been caused by a separate phenomenon, the Siberian Monsoon).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:28 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't find the part where it says that global sea-levels have risen 1mm.

See also FAQ - Is Sea Level Rising? (IPCC)
posted by stbalbach at 11:28 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


But hey we have dogs skyping each other.
blub
blub
blub
posted by edgeways at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just read somewhere else that global warming was slowing down.

That would be false.
posted by crayz at 11:41 AM on January 25, 2013


The "global warming is slowing down" meme has been cropping up for the past few days, but I can't figure out its source. G&M's house contrarian/linkbait columnist Margaret Wente, for example, recently wrote that global temperatures have now held steady for 16 years, and cites the UK's Met Office for this fact, but I've looked on the Met Office website and could find no source for this nugget of information.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:56 AM on January 25, 2013


You forgot "serial plagiarist."

If you want a picture of the Globe and Mail's future, imagine lazily-written linkbait below Wente's smug face -- forever.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:02 PM on January 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I thought her inflammatory approach was kind of amusing for a while (she's nothing if not predictable) but she's just so mean-spirited, and, in the case of global warming, just so wrong. It's not that she's an idiot, she has an agenda, and cherry picks or invents "facts" to support her agenda.

If anyone has any insights into where she got here "16-year" data point, it would be appreciated.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:08 PM on January 25, 2013


I find that the easiest way to deal with all this is to make choices that assume the worst-case scenarios are true, where I can afford to and/or my current lifestyle allows it. It may not be running in the direction I might need to run, but at least I'm walking, so I get a bit of a head start.
posted by davejay at 12:26 PM on January 25, 2013


Global Warming: A Business/Political Plan

Stage 1: Actively deny "global warming", continue as is. Score points with ignorant against those crazy liberal scientists. Rake in money from business-as-usual.

Stage 2: When things get so bad climate change is incontrovertible, switch to Global Emergency Action. This becomes a huge, worldwide, taxpayer-funded Manhattan Project to reverse the effects of global warming. Rake in money from the contracts given out in the "whatever it costs, do it" mentality of the emergency.

Bonus: Claim that if the liberal scientists had only been able to "prove" it was happening earlier, this wouldn't have happened, discrediting science even more. Say things like "'Theories' and nebulous ranges of effects aren't proof!" Score once again with the ignorant.

Double Secret Bonus: Consolidate corporate/right-wing power during the "wartime" operations.
posted by maxwelton at 12:27 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Norwegians are not at all worried apparently: we can apparently double our output of CO2 and still stay within the IPCCs safe limit of a 2 degree global temperature rise.
[the linked article fails to report the researcher's suggestion that this news should not lure us into complacency]
posted by rongorongo at 12:36 PM on January 25, 2013


Looks like the Daily Mail was the source of the "no warming for 16 years" meme. The Met Office itself issued a clarification, which basically says that any arbitrary short-cycle year-X-to-year-Y picture of global temperatures is just noise in the long-term pattern, which it unequivocally states is a warming trend. There's a pretty good overview of the whole thing at MPR News.

The silly thing here is that if you spend any time with actual climate scientists, you learn that they are almost invariably more worried than their public pronouncements indicate, and that ridiculous stuff like that Daily Mail "refutation" of the climate change consensus is so far off the actual parameters of their work that it'd be like showing up in a physics lab with an op-ed claiming the jury's still out on gravity.
posted by gompa at 1:12 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


> If anyone has any insights into where she got her "16-year" data point

KokoRyu, everything hangs on what time interval you choose to fit your trend line to. If you go from 1998 to present (Wente's 16 years), that interval includes 1998 itself, which showed a considerable temperature spike (see graph of the HadCRUT3 [*] global temperature mean from 1997 to present so you can see the 1998 spike clearly.) Including 1998 (even though there are arguments for discarding it as an outlier) you show no statistically significant overall warming trend at all--even a tiny decline (also not significant). Even if you do discard 1998 and fit your line only from 1999 to present (graph) mean global temperature is still pretty flat. That's what the "global warming has stopped" folks are looking at. They're going Q: how much have you warmed me recently? A: not so much.

OTOH if you look at the entire HadCRUT3 data set from 1840 to present (graph) you see a clear overall increasing trend starting around 1910, though it has not been perfectly steady. There was quite a long flat interval from ~1950 to ~1975, longer than 16 years, after which warming clearly resumed. That's what the "global warming has NOT stopped" folks are looking at, and they expect the upward trend to resume. I myself expect it to resume, but that's just my magic 8 ball and the toxoplasmosis talking and I have no idea when it will resume.

[*] from the Met Office - "HadCRUT3 is a gridded dataset of global historical surface temperature anomalies. Data are available for each month since January 1850, on a 5 degree grid."

PS low bow to woodfortrees for their interactive graphing. NoScript users, I said "temporarily allow all this page", I think they're at least that trustworthy.
posted by jfuller at 1:13 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I roll my saving throw Vs Scientific proof.

Your earnest prayer conjures a James Inhofe, who shields you in his Cloak of Inanity and whisks you away to make an igloo on the White House lawn. You live to avoid hard truths another day.
posted by gompa at 1:14 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks gompa and jfuller.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:38 PM on January 25, 2013


I find that the easiest way to deal with all this is to make choices that assume the worst-case scenarios are true

IIRC, the worst predictions have been coming true, and the media-promoted predictions have all been wickedly short of the mark.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:23 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The summer 2012 melt was unprecedented, it alone rose global sea-levels by 1mm.

OK, so if it rose 1mm in one year, how long is it gonna take to rise 1 m?

Goddamn metric system...
posted by sour cream at 2:28 PM on January 25, 2013


This is the thing, though. If the world gets significantly warmer, the ocean will rise. How can you stop that? You can't just build walls. In places like Florida, hurricanes will just push the tide over the walls. And the world is getting warmer. So the ocean is going to rise. I mean, you can't just put the water somewhere else. It's been somewhere else; Greenland, Antarctica. It won't stay there unless it's cold. And it's not going to be cold any more.

Sea levels rising is just one unprecedented global human-centric disaster among an easy dozen that a warmer planet will guarantee.

I'm just one guy with no car, a house with a thermostat set at 13C during the day and 19C in the evening, I walk everywhere, never get on an airplane, buy almost nothing except food and it doesn't make any difference what I do.

We are on a train heading straight for another train and it isn't stopping.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greenland ice SIMPLY WOULD NOT MELT in baking +8°C era 120k years ago (el reg)
posted by w.fugawe at 3:28 PM on January 25, 2013


Greenland ice SIMPLY WOULD NOT MELT in baking +8°C era 120k years ago

Says some random guy with an ax to grind and a blog.

Seriously, why doesn't he link to the peer reviewed journal article he's allegedly quoting?
posted by Floydd at 4:33 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


gompa: ridiculous stuff like that Daily Mail "refutation" of the climate change consensus is so far off the actual parameters of their work that it'd be like showing up in a physics lab with an op-ed claiming the jury's still out on gravity.

For KokuRyu: nevertheless, this demonstrates how valuable this type of manipulation is to anti-climate change propagandists. The Daily Mail article was refuted almost immediately by the Met Office, and firmly debunked by Phil Plait. That hasn't stopped multiple sources over the last few months from trumpeting it as "Proof!!" that warming has stopped, and BTW Global Warming was just a bunch of alarmists trying to get money for their shady Leftist schemes. The Globe & Mail article is a classic of the type (although there are some very effective refutations in the comments, which is heartening).

seanmpuckett: One of the G&M comments was "Plant a tree. That's something anyone can do." Like you, I try to live with a small footprint, and I've more or less given up hope of seeing any political action on this issue in my lifetime. But I like the idea of planting trees. It's not much, but each tree ties up a lot of carbon for many years. A forest is a huge carbon sink, and there is evidence that many plant species are more productive as the CO2 concentration goes up. If we had any foresight at all, we would be planning to artificially help* move forests to higher latitudes in anticipation of warming temperatures, and try to take advantage of the situation to slow future ill effects. Maybe.

*A loaded and dangerous word when talking about moving species to new environments, I know.

posted by sneebler at 4:41 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Seriously, why doesn't he link to the peer reviewed journal article he's allegedly quoting?

The peer reviewed journal he's allegedly quoting is Nature. Here's the authors' press release, from the National Science Foundation. You can add your own spin but if you're not a Chinese dissident Go0gle is your friend. If you can figure out how to use it.
posted by jfuller at 5:46 PM on January 25, 2013


The silly thing here is that if you spend any time with actual climate scientists, you learn that they are almost invariably more worried than their public pronouncements indicate

Elizabeth Kolbert, in her 2005 New Yorker piece that became the book Field Notes from a Catastrophe, wrote that Robert Socolow "...Talking to insiders, he was struck by the degree of their alarm. 'I've been involved in a number of fields where there's a lay opinion and a scientific opinion.... And, in most of the cases, it's the lay community that is more exercised, more anxious. If you take an extreme example, it would be nuclear power, where most of the people who work in nuclear science are relatively relaxed about very low levels of radiation. But, in the climate case, the experts -- the people who work with the climate models every day, the people who do ice cores -- they are more concerned. They're going out of their way to say, "Wake up! This is not a good thing to be doing."'"
posted by dhartung at 6:26 PM on January 25, 2013


w.fugawe: " Greenland ice SIMPLY WOULD NOT MELT in baking +8°C era 120k years ago"

Greenland is melting 3 Chesapeake Bay's worth of water each and every year. (source: video in the OP). Of course it's a really big ice cube so it takes a while to entirely melt.
posted by stbalbach at 7:49 PM on January 25, 2013


Is there a way to capitalize on the real estate boom from soon-to-be-beachfront properties before they become underwater properties?

This was intended as a joke but we should take this as a serious request for investment advice. If we as a society are not going to do anything about global warming, we who can see a rise in sea levels coming might as well benefit from it financially. That canned food won't buy itself.

Check out this handy interactive map showing how much shoreline would go under water with a sea level rise of X meters.

Consider Richmond, BC. It's a city of 190 000 people that's built on an island in a river delta just south of Vancouver. Much of it would be below sea level with a 3 meter sea level rise. Basically all of it would be underwater given a 4 meter rise. Worse, the city is in an earthquake zone so building a dike around it would be an extremely risky proposition. It doesn't matter that it might take decades or even a century for sea levels to rise by 3-4 meters -- it's clearly going to happen eventually. People only think they own land in Richmond; in reality, they're leasing it.

So, it seems probable that property in Richmond is exceedingly overvalued. What medium-to-long term investment strategy would allow us to benefit from this insider knowledge? Would buying property in a more vertically endowed suburb of Vancouver be the way to go?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:21 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


On reflection, a three meter sea level rise in <100 years is more pessimistic than conservative forecasts tell us to expect. Somehow I don't think it's a bad bet.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:24 PM on January 25, 2013


If we had any foresight at all, we would be planning to artificially help* move forests to higher latitudes in anticipation of warming temperatures,

Other artificial help would be to place electrodes into the trees to help them grow.

(see 1950's USAG research)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:44 AM on January 26, 2013


A rise in sea level of 2-3 meters would cause great problems in Shanghai and Guangzhou, particularly if there were a tropical storm. China is so vast, though, that it could afford to sacrifice much of its present coast and it would still be ginormous. I wonder if the present leadership have contemplated this population shifts due to global warming, and whether it has anything to do with the presently notorious building boom?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:49 PM on January 26, 2013


...if you're not a Chinese dissident Go0gle is your friend. If you can figure out how to use it.

My Go0gle skills are adequate to the task, thankyouverymuch. But why the hell should even I have to Google? If the "Blog Boffin" is going to spin away he should link to the full paper, even though it doesn't actually say what he says it says. Which is typical.
posted by Floydd at 3:36 PM on January 27, 2013


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