Greenland update for 2010: record melting and a massive calving event

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:31 PM GMT on March 04, 2011

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No humans were present on the morning of August 4, 2010, in a remote fjord in Northwest Greenland, when the air vibrated with a thunderous crack as one of the largest icebergs in world history calved from the Petermann Glacier, the island's second largest ocean-terminating glacier. Where the glacier meets the sea, a 43 mile-long tongue of floating ice existed at the beginning of 2010. On August 4 2010, a quarter of this 43 mile-long tongue of floating ice fractured off, spawning a 100 square mile ice island four times the size of Manhattan, with a thickness half that of the Empire State building. According to Andreas Muenchow, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, the freshwater stored in this ice island could have kept the Delaware or Hudson rivers flowing for more than two years, or kept all U.S. public tap water flowing for 120 days. There was speculation that the ice island could find its way into the open Atlantic Ocean in two years, and potentially pose a threat to oil platforms and ships. However, as the ice island made its turn to get from the narrow Petermann Fjord to enter Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada, the mighty iceberg split into thousands of small icebergs that will not pose an unusual threat to shipping when they emerge into the Atlantic.


Figure 1. The 100 square-mile ice island that broke off the Petermann Glacier heads out of the Petermann Fjord in this image taken by NASA's Aqua satellite on August 21, 2010. Image credit: NASA. I've constructed a 7-frame satellite animation available here that shows the calving and break-up of the Petermann Glacier ice island. The animation begins on August 5, 2010, and ends on September 21, with images spaced about 8 days apart. The images were taken by NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.

Petermann Glacier spawned smaller ice islands in 2001 (34 square miles) and in 2008 (10 square miles). In 2005, the Ayles Ice Shelf, about 60 miles to the west of Petermann Glacier, disintegrated and became a 34 square-mile ice island. The August 2010 Petermann Glacier calving event created the largest iceberg observed in the Arctic since 1962, when the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on the north coast of Canada's Ellesmere Island calved off a massive 230 square mile chunk. The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf also calved off a huge 21 square mile ice island a few days after the August 2010 Petermann Glacier calving event. According to an article in livescience.com, "Driftwood and narwhal remains found along the Ellesmere coast have radiocarbon dates from roughly 3,000 to 6,800 years ago, implying that the ice has been intact since those remains were deposited." All of the these calving events are evidence that the ice sheets in the Arctic are responding as one would expect to significantly warmer temperatures.

Warmer ocean temperatures cause significant melting of Greenland's glaciers
At a talk last December at the world's largest conference on climate change, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, glacier expert Eric Rignot of UC-Irvine implicated ocean warming as a key reason for the calving of the Petermann Glacier's ice island. The ocean waters near the glacier have warmed by 1 - 2°C over the past three years, he said, and all of the periphery of Greenland has seen ocean heat increases in recent years, with the result that 20 - 80% of all the mass lost by Greenland's glaciers in recent years could be attributed to melting of the glaciers by warmer waters attacking them from beneath. Ocean temperatures along the southwest coast of Greenland (60N to 70N, 60W to 50W) computed from the UK Hadley Center data set during 2010 were 2.9°C (5.2°F) above average--a truly remarkable anomaly, and far warmer than the previous record of 1.5°C above average set in 2003. Sea surface temperature records for Greenland began in the 1920s. A study earlier this year published in the journal Science (Spielhagen et al., 2011) found that ocean temperatures on the east side of Greenland are now at their warmest levels in at least 2,000 years. The researchers studied a sediment core containing fossil remains of planktic foraminifers, which vary as a function of water temperature. The study noted that not only have the waters flowing northward on the east side of Greenland warmed significantly, the volume of water flowing north has also increased, resulting in a large transport of heat into the Arctic. "Such an increased heat input has far-reaching consequences," they wrote.


Figure 2. Departure of sea surface temperature from average for 2010 from the NOAA Daily Optimum Interpolation SST Anomaly data set for October 2010. Areas colored red are warmer than the 1971-2000 average, areas colored blue are cooler than that average. A large region of record warm water temperatures extended along the west coast of Greenland, leading to record warm air temperatures and record melting along the western portion of Greenland in 2010. Ocean temperatures along the southwest coast of Greenland (60N to 70N, 60W to 50W) computed from the UK Hadley Center data set during 2010 were 2.9°C (5.2°F) above average--a truly remarkable anomaly, surpassing the previous record of 1.5°C set in 2003. Sea surface temperature records for Greenland began in the 1920s. Image credit: NOAA Visualization Lab.

Record warmth and melting in Greenland during 2010
Greenland's climate in 2010 was marked by record-setting high air temperatures, the greatest ice loss by melting since accurate records began in 1958, and the greatest mass loss of ocean-terminating glaciers on record. That was the conclusion of the 2010 Arctic Report Card, a collaborative effort between NOAA and European Arctic experts that comes out each year. Was 2010 the warmest year in Greenland's history? That is difficult to judge. We know it was also very warm in the late 1920s and 1930s in Greenland, but we only have two stations, Godtahab Nuuk and Angmagssalik, with weather records that go back that far (Figure 3.) Godtahab Nuuk set a record high in 2010, but temperatures at Angmagssalik in 2010 were similar to what was observed during several years in the 1920s and 1930s. Marco Tedesco of the City College of New York's Cryosphere Processes Laboratory remarked that last year's record warmth and melting in Greenland began when an unusually early spring warm spell reduced and "aged" the snow on the surface of the ice sheet, so that the snow became less reflective, allowing it to absorb more heat from the sun. This accelerated snow melt even further, exposing the bare ice, which is less reflective than snow and absorbs more heat. This feedback loop extended Greenland's record melting season well into the fall.


Figure 3. Historic temperatures in Greenland for the six stations with at least 50 years of data, as archived by NASA. Three of the six stations set record highs in 2010. However, only two of the six stations (Godtahab Nuuk and Angmagssalik) have data going back beyond the 1930s, which was a period of warmth in Greenland similar to the warmth of the current decade. Godtahab Nuuk set a record high in 2010, but 2003 still ranks as Angmagssalik's hottest year on record.


Figure 4. The 2010 summer melt season was lasted more than 40 days longer (purple colors) than the mean melt season from 1979 - 2007. Image credit: Arctic Report Card.

Why Greenland matters: sea level rise
The major concern with a warming climate in Greenland is melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which currently contributes about 25% of the observed 3 mm/year (1.2 inches per decade) global rise in sea level. Higher sea levels mean increased storm surge inundation, coastal erosion, loss of low-lying land areas, and salt water contamination of underground drinking water supplies. Greenland ice mass loss is accelerating over the long term, according to independent estimates using three different techniques (Figure 5), with more mass being lost each year than the previous year. According to Rignot et al., 2011, ice mass loss is also accelerating in Antarctica, and "the magnitude of the acceleration suggests that ice sheets will be the dominant contributors to sea level rise in forthcoming decades, and will likely exceed the IPCC projections for the contribution of ice sheets to sea level rise in the 21st century." As I discussed in a 2009 blog post, How much will global sea level rise this century?, the IPCC in 2007 estimated that global sea level would rise 0.6 - 1.9 feet by 2100, but several studies since then predict a higher range of 1.6 - 6.6 feet.

During the warm period 125,000 years ago, before the most recent ice age, roughly half of the Greenland ice sheet melted. This melting plus the melting of other smaller Arctic ice fields is thought to have caused 7.2 - 11.2 feet (2.2 - 3.4 meters) of the 13 - 20 foot (4 - 6 meter) sea level rise observed during that period. Temperatures in Greenland are predicted to rise 3°C by 2100, to levels similar to 125,000 years ago. If this level of warming occurs, we can expect sea levels to rise 13 - 20 feet several centuries from now. There's enough water locked away in the ice sheet to raise sea level to rise 23 feet (7 meters), should the entire Greenland ice sheet melt.


Figure 5. Loss of mass from Greenland's ice sheet in gigatons per year from 1992 through 2009, as computed from satellite gravity measurements from the GRACE satellites (red line) and from a mass balance method. The mass balance method computes the amount of snow on the surface, the amount of ice mass lost to wind and melt, and the amount of ice lost computed from glacier velocity and ice thickness. Adding together these terms gives the total amount of ice lost or gained over the ice sheet. The acceleration is given in gigatons per year squared. Another paper by Zwally et al. (2011) used a third method, laser satellite altimetry, to determine Greenland mass loss. Between 2003 to 2007, the ice sheet lost 171 gigatons of mass per year. Between 1992 to 2002, Greenland was only losing only 7 gigatons per year. Image credit: Rignot et al., 2011, Geophysical Research Letters.

References
Rignot, E., et al., 2011: Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets to sea level rise, Geophysical Research Letters, in press, doi:10.1029/2011GL046583.

Spielhagen, et al., 2011, Enhanced Modern Heat Transfer to the Arctic by Warm Atlantic Water, Science 28 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6016 pp. 450-453 DOI: 10.1126/science.1197397

Zwally, J., et al., 2011, Greenland ice sheet mass balance: distribution of increased mass loss with climate warming; 2003 - 07 versus 19922 - 2002, Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 57, No. 201, 2011.

Wunderground's climate change section has a Greenland web page with detailed information and references.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting AstroHurricane001:
what would the undecided be called, "fence sitters"?
;-) That's a good one.

Seriously, though, there truly are more than two groups where climate science is concerned. These are the ones as I see them (and of course there are various degrees and subgroups in each of these):

A) Those who've looked at the overwhelming science that supports the theory and have agreed that it looks mostly right, and that we are on a collison course with disaster if we don't immediately do something about the billions of tons of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere each year;

B) Those who've looked at the overwhelming science that supports the theory and have decided that something about it doesn't look right to them. In response, they've proposed well-formed, scientifically-valid alternate theories to explain the current warming, and they are working diligently to seek multiple indepenent verifications of their findings. NOTE: This group, entirely unassociated with Big Energy interests, comprises roughly 0% of all people.

C) Those who steadfastly refuse to look at any of the signals or the science behind them, and wouldn't admit that the planet was warming even if every speck of polar and glacial ice melted, sea levels rose 200 feet, and the average winter daytime high in Antarctica was 130 degrees;

D) Those who simply don't care about any of this as they're too involved keeping up with Charlie Sheen's tweets and who's going to get kicked off of American Idol this week;

E) Those who may or may not believe any of the signals, but aren't concerned as they feel they won't be affected no matter what happens;

F) Those who believe their chosen deity will protect them and the planet, so we don't need to worry about anything bad happening to us because of our actions;

G) Those who do agree with scientists in private, but know that stating as much publicly could result in a loss of future billions for them, so they instead spend millions of dollars trying to cloud the issue and convince everyone that AGWT is all scam. This group is--as evidenced here on this very forum--sadly succeeding.

If you want labels, then, try these work, but feel free to choose your own: A) The Mostly Convinced; B) The True Skeptics; C) The Willfully Ignorant; D) The Woefully Ignorant; E) The Blissfully Ignorant; F) The Faithfully Ignorant, and G) Big Energy.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549


looks like a very wet high impacting wide spread event and its not done yet we still got another 24 hrs of persistant rains to occur this is a serious unfolding weather event and we get to do it again mid week with next round some heavy severe
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54266
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


This happens all the time in science. For example, it took geologists over 70 years simply to consider the continental drift theory and mainly because its main proponent was a meteorologist. Looking at it that way, the so-called "Climategate" scandal exposes only a resistance to alternative ideas seen everywhere in the science community and not some kind of plot to fudge data.

Either way, it's a good point (and what would the undecided be called, "fence sitters"?). The same information often leads to opposite conclusions via preconceptions. +1

Attitude polarization


No, it doesn't happen often.

If you come up with awesome hypothesis, you need to back it up with some awesome data.

Continental drift theory wasn't some minor theory. It was proposing a fundamental shift in geology. In order to be accepted, it would need to provide solid evidence to support it, as well as make predictions that a) Showed it was correct and b) Showed that other models or theories could not make such predictions. It is very unusual for a theory of that magnitude to be verified and accepted overnight.

Some other examples include predictions of particle physics and relativity. Many aspects of both weren't conclusive until we developed the technology to test them. There are STILL aspects that haven't been tested or tested well, and it may take decades before we know conclusively either way.

If you make extraordinary claims, you've got to back it up with solid research. Climate scientists have been doing this since the first proposal of the greenhouse effect back in the 1800's. To date, there has not been any accepted research showing that their conclusions are blatantly wrong. There have been no counter models developed, and no data to refute a warming world given the current conditions. Anything that has been presented has been pretty much ripped apart due to numerous errors and shoddy research.

The planet is warming, which implies something has changed to cause the planet trap more heat. Current research shows that the warming is in line with predictions based on greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Until someone can develop another hypothesis that can explain the current observations and research, while simultaneously showing that a different mechanism is responsible for the additional heat, then the current science stands.
Member Since: October 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1493
436. Ylee
Quoting Orcasystems:
"Did you send him the design you have for the Ark?"
It's not KOG's design, he stole it from Grothar...
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Quoting Patrap:
He'ya KOTG,,storms and squalls inbound here.

Best get it out the way today so we can Party thru Midnight Tuesday.

a good soaking moving in looks like a flash of water movin over ya

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Quoting Orcasystems:


Did you send him the design you have for the Ark?


ark we were to built an ark nobody said nothing to me.
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He'ya KOTG,,storms and squalls inbound here.

Best get it out the way today so we can Party thru Midnight Tuesday.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128616
Quoting Surfcropper:
A photograph taken through a scanning electron microscope of a CI1 meteorite is similar in size and overall structure to the giant bacterium Titanospirillum velox, an organism found here on planet Earth, a NASA scientist said.



exclusive-nasa-scientists-claims-evidence-alien-l ife-meteorite



Oh boy, this could be the start of a new chapter in science :)

At the same time though, its too early to call of course, but still interesting still!
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7553
Quoting Patrap:
O Lordy,,


..now Moses?


i knew i get ya to say something

remember if we can't beat em i guess we join em
if we all act crazy we won't know whos crazy

afternoon where i am to ya pat
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54266
Quoting Neapolitan:
Re Comment #382:

I agree with Dr. Seitter's call for less polarization on the climate change issue--but a simple change in nomenclature won't accomplish that task, I don't think.

Seitter's correct about those who use the word "skeptic"; all scientists--and science-minded people--should be skeptical. That's how science moves forward. But in his words, "I have seen some pretty egregious cases of individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics accepting claims that support their position with little or no documented evidence while summarily dismissing the results of carefully replicated studies that do not." So there's that.

He also goes on to say, "I have seen cases of climate scientists who have swept aside reasonable counter hypotheses as irrelevant, or even silly, without giving them proper consideration." Perhaps because I affiliate myself with that second group I may be biased, but in my experience of studying and writing about climate science, what the "unconvinced" consider "reasonable counter hypotheses" and what I do are two very different things. That is, saying that NASA, NOAA, and the UK Met office are run by incompetent and possibly evil nitwits whose degrees and experience mean absolutely nothing isn't a "reasonable counter hypothesis". Claiming that all the evidence of a warming planet is false, phony, fake, misinterpreted, and manipulated isn't a "reasonable counter hypothesis", either. Neither is saying that some deity will magically stop us from harming either the planet he or she made, or us, the creatures crawling upon it.

No, a "reasonable counter hypothesis" would explain that the planet isn't warming, and why it isn't; it would explain how the rapidly rising CO2 levels are not affecting temperatures; it would explain how, despite the numerous markers indicating otherwise, that excess CO2 isn't from man's activities. I've not seen any such valid "reasonable counter hypothesis". Only endless obsessions with "algore", and endless talk of the ranks of greedy climate scientists enriching themselves off their lush government grants, and endless rehashings of many-times-debunked pseudoscience and wishful thinking, and endless obfuscation put out by people who stand to gain hundreds of billions of dollars more by effectively delaying any and all mitigation efforts.

So far as Seitter's own suggestion of using the labels "convinced" and "unconvinced", I'm not at all sure those are much better or different than what we have now. Calling a person "convinced" implies that they've bought into the theory lock, stock, and barrel, and absoluteyly nothing could ever possibly sway them. That's definitely not me, nor most of the AGWT adherents I know. "Unconvinced", on the other hand, isn't much different than "skeptic", as it still allows folks to simply use the same arguments as always, though wrapped in a newer piece of paper. I'm not sure where the benefit would lie, then, though if Seitter and others want to use them, of course they would work just as well as anything now used.

Seitter's correct that "a reasonable discussion on the science is unlikely if we cannot find non-offensive terminology for those who have taken positions different than our own." But as with any sharply divided issue, it's only natural--if not healthy--that polarization occurs. And with such polarization, offense is, sadly, bound to occur. That's just how we humans are.

----------

Musings of a Saturday morning. As always, feel free to ignore.


I'm pretty sure Dr. Seitter doesn't need you to be a critic of his commentary :)


What he said was a perfect example of someone who doesn't have a giant ego and knows what it means to be honest and balanced.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
stand still behold he's mighty hand


Did you send him the design you have for the Ark?
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O Lordy,,


..now Moses?

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128616
stand still behold he's mighty hand
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54266
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If anyone likes the science of electricity, you'll like this :)

even if not, that arcing is just cool haha
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Video recorded by cameras mounted on Discovery's twin solid rocket boosters (Almost 30 min)

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Clean Fuel Worsens Climate Impacts for Some Vehicle Engines
ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2011) — A pioneering program by one of the world's largest cities to switch its vehicle fleet to clean fuel has not significantly improved harmful vehicle emissions in more than 5,000 vehicles -- and worsened some vehicles' climate impacts -- a new University of British Columbia study finds.

The study -- which explores the impacts of New Delhi, India's 2003 conversion of 90,000 buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws to compressed natural gas (CNG), a well-known "clean" fuel -- provides crucial information for other cities considering similar projects.

Of the city's more than 5,000 auto-rickshaws with two-stroke engines -- a common form of transportation in Asia and Africa -- the study found that CNG produced only minor reductions in emissions that cause air pollution and an increase in emissions that negatively impact climate change.

According to the researchers, the New Delhi's program could have achieved greater emission reductions at a cheaper price by simply upgrading two-stroke models to the cleaner, more fuel-efficient four-stroke variety.

"Our study demonstrates the importance of engine type when adopting clean fuels," says lead author and UBC post-doctoral fellow Conor Reynolds. "Despite switching to CNG, two-stroke engine auto-rickshaws in Delhi still produce similar levels of particulate matter per kilogram of fuel to a diesel bus -- and their climate impacts are worse than before."

Link
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54266
Quoting Patrap:
NOAA



Global Climate Change Indicators


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Climatic Data Center

Many lines of scientific evidence show the Earth's climate is changing. This page presents the latest information from several independent measures of observed climate change that illustrate an overwhelmingly compelling story of a planet that is undergoing global warming. It is worth noting that increasing global temperature is only one element of observed global climate change. Precipitation patterns are also changing; storms and other extremes are changing as well.
How do we know the Earth's climate is warming?

Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends.

The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels.


Congrats Pat, your continual posting of that article has finally moved me into the "convinced " column... I now know for sure, and without any doubt, that climate change has never ever occurred on planet Earth before...

Thank goodness for those modern instruments, and scientist to read and interprit the findings... i.e. we all know that never before, in the history of the planet, that Greenland was never actually green... Just like there never was forest covering much of Antartica...
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lol irony record cold
Member Since: May 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 556
~1000 ML CAPE just as NWS SPC discussion said would be back on Thursday.


(click for full size)
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Quoting Patrap:


WX radio on...
*beep*
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Who wants to go to a parade? How bad ya want it?

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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128616
Still having trouble with the whole LINK thing, eh?

Persistence will pay off eventually.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128616
NOAA



Global Climate Change Indicators


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Climatic Data Center

Many lines of scientific evidence show the Earth's climate is changing. This page presents the latest information from several independent measures of observed climate change that illustrate an overwhelmingly compelling story of a planet that is undergoing global warming. It is worth noting that increasing global temperature is only one element of observed global climate change. Precipitation patterns are also changing; storms and other extremes are changing as well.
How do we know the Earth's climate is warming?

Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends.

The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128616

Fascinating..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128616

Quoting number4steel:
i am neither a fence setter, or a believer in global warming , i believe than global warming is an effect , not the cause . more study and time should be placed on the lose of water vapor content in the atmosphere. when there is less water vapor in the air, it leads to radical changes in temperature , which ,in turn can and often lead to dramatic and more intense storms. also , the lack a water vapor and moisture in soils and ice leads to destabilization , i.e. cracks ,splits and surface gaps. the melting and destabilization of the polar caps , the resulting melting and release of trapped vapors and gases may be , in the end , the earth trying to recover its lost vapor to the atmosphere
                The wolves are gonna love you! lol
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i am neither a fence setter, or a believer in global warming , i believe than global warming is an effect , not the cause . more study and time should be placed on the lose of water vapor content in the atmosphere. when there is less water vapor in the air, it leads to radical changes in temperature , which ,in turn can and often lead to dramatic and more intense storms. also , the lack a water vapor and moisture in soils and ice leads to destabilization , i.e. cracks ,splits and surface gaps. the melting and destabilization of the polar caps , the resulting melting and release of trapped vapors and gases may be , in the end , the earth trying to recover its lost vapor to the atmosphere
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Alternative hypotheses to GHG-induced warming are usually not alternative hypotheses. At most, they simply add an additional natural mechanism to better explain how the climate works.
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Quoting Jedkins01:
By Keith Seitter, Executive Director, AMS

"The topic of anthropogenic global warming has become so polarized it is now hard to talk about it without what amounts to name-calling entering into the discussion. In blogs, e-mails, and published opinion pieces, terms like “deniers” and “contrarians” are leveled in one direction while “warmist” and “alarmist” are leveled in the other. Both the scientific community and broader society have much to gain from respectful dialog among those of opposing views on climate change, but a reasonable discussion on the science is unlikely if we cannot find non-offensive terminology for those who have taken positions different than our own.

As Peggy Lemone mentioned in a Front Page post last week, some months ago, the CMOS Bulletin reprinted a paper originally published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences by Anderegg et al. that simply used the terms “convinced” and “unconvinced” to describe those who had been convinced by the evidence that anthropogenic climate change was occurring and those who had not been convinced. This terminology helps in a number of ways. First and foremost, it does not carry with it the baggage of value judgment, since for any particular scientific argument there is no intrinsically positive or negative connotation associated with being either convinced or unconvinced. In addition, this terminology highlights that we are talking about a scientific, evidence-based, issue that should be resolved through logical reasoning and not something that should be decided by our inherent belief system. (And for that reason, I work very hard to avoid saying someone does or does not “believe” in global warming, or similar phrases.)

The sense I have gotten is that those who do not feel that human influence is causing the global temperatures to rise would prefer to be called “skeptics.” However, I have tried to avoid using this term as a label for those individuals. Skepticism is a cornerstone upon which science is built. All of us who have been trained as scientists should be skeptics with respect to all scientific issues — demanding solid evidence for a hypothesis or claim before accepting it, and rejecting any position if the evidence makes it clear that it cannot be correct (even if it had, in the past, been well-accepted by the broader community).

I have seen some pretty egregious cases of individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics accepting claims that support their position with little or no documented evidence while summarily dismissing the results of carefully replicated studies that do not. On the other side, I have seen cases of climate scientists who have swept aside reasonable counter hypotheses as irrelevant, or even silly, without giving them proper consideration. Neither situation represents the way a truly skeptical scientist should behave. All of us in the community should expect better.

We will not be able to have substantive discussions on the many facets of climate change if we spend so much time and energy in name-calling. And we really need to have substantive discussion if we are going to serve the public in a reasonable way as a community. Thus, it is imperative that we find some terminology that allows a person’s position on climate change to be expressed without implied, assumed, or imposed value judgments.

There may be other neutral terms that can be applied to those engaged in the climate change discussion, but “convinced” and “unconvinced” are the best I have seen so far. I have adopted this terminology in the hope of reducing some of the polarization in the discussion."


This happens all the time in science. For example, it took geologists over 70 years simply to consider the continental drift theory and mainly because its main proponent was a meteorologist. Looking at it that way, the so-called "Climategate" scandal exposes only a resistance to alternative ideas seen everywhere in the science community and not some kind of plot to fudge data.

Either way, it's a good point (and what would the undecided be called, "fence sitters"?). The same information often leads to opposite conclusions via preconceptions. +1

Attitude polarization
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Hazelton BC



They're going to get even higher than that. Food prices are also dependant partly on oil prices. More expensive food means more riots in oil-rich countries which means even higher prices.
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Quoting Roundywaves:
How could that iceberg possibly be even comparable with the largest in earth history? Consider that calving events at the end of the last ice age from the massive North American ice sheets that extended to the Atlantic? Those ice sheets were much thicker and more broad that the ice sheets of today, and could have produced bergs larger than Texas. . .

It can't be. It wasn't. And nobody said it was. Dr. Masters wrote, "The August 2010 Petermann Glacier calving event created the largest iceberg observed in the Arctic since 1962."

"Since 1962". Not "in earth history".
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549
What's also interesting is the fact the same year 1908 had a hurricane nearly hit the coastline of the USA in May


Able in 1951 actually obtained major hurricane status in the month of May!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24148
How could that iceberg possibly be even comparable with the largest in earth history? Consider that calving events at the end of the last ice age from the massive North American ice sheets that extended to the Atlantic? Those ice sheets were much thicker and more broad that the ice sheets of today, and could have produced bergs larger than Texas. . .
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Quoting Ossqss:
Sometimes, perspective, perspective, perspective, is important!

Gnight WU!



Thank you for post 366 - it sometimes does need reinforcing that we, and only we, can save our planet from..... ourselves.
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Here's a data set regarding the system by HURDAT.
March 6 12 UTC 23.8N 60.2W -- deg -- mph -- kph 60 mph 95 kph -- mb Tropical Storm
March 6 18 UTC 22.7N 60.7W 205 deg 12 mph 20 kph 65 mph 100 kph -- mb Tropical Storm
March 7 0 UTC 21.6N 61.1W 200 deg 12 mph 20 kph 75 mph 120 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 1
March 7 6 UTC 20.6N 61.5W 200 deg 11 mph 18 kph 80 mph 130 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 1
March 7 12 UTC 19.7N 61.9W 205 deg 10 mph 16 kph 90 mph 150 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 1
March 7 18 UTC 18.8N 62.2W 195 deg 10 mph 16 kph 100 mph 160 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 2
March 8 0 UTC 18.0N 62.5W 200 deg 9 mph 14 kph 100 mph 160 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 2
March 8 6 UTC 17.3N 62.8W 200 deg 8 mph 12 kph 80 mph 130 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 1
March 8 12 UTC 16.6N 63.1W 200 deg 8 mph 12 kph 75 mph 120 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 1
March 8 18 UTC 16.0N 63.4W 205 deg 6 mph 11 kph 75 mph 120 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 1
March 9 0 UTC 15.4N 63.7W 205 deg 6 mph 11 kph 75 mph 120 kph -- mb Hurricane - Category 1
March 9 6 UTC 14.9N 64.0W 210 deg 5 mph 9 kph 60 mph 95 kph -- mb Tropical Storm
March 9 12 UTC 14.4N 64.2W 200 deg 5 mph 9 kph 45 mph 75 kph -- mb Tropical Storm
March 9 18 UTC 13.8N 64.6W 215 deg 8 mph 12 kph 40 mph 65 kph -- mb Tropical Storm

Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24148
Quoting CybrTeddy:


There was a Category 2 hurricane in the Caribbean once in March 1908.


If that happened again we'd all be sitting here with our mouths wide open in shock. I think even Levi and Dr. Masters would be completely baffled.

Also, this month I'd keep an eye for something to pop up in the South Atlantic. March tends to be the prime month for storms as both Catarina and Anita formed in March.

I'd like to see this cat2 on satellite,but it's 1908...
Member Since: May 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 351
Quoting PolishHurrMaster:
STD in March? I'd like to see that,but shear is rather to high,and I don't think this storm will be like Zeta and survive high shear.


There was a Category 2 hurricane in the Caribbean once in March 1908.


If that happened again we'd all be sitting here with our mouths wide open in shock. I think even Levi and Dr. Masters would be completely baffled.

Also, this month I'd keep an eye for something to pop up in the South Atlantic. March tends to be the prime month for storms as both Catarina and Anita formed in March.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24148
STD in March? I'd like to see that,but shear is rather to high,and I don't think this storm will be like Zeta and survive high shear.
Member Since: May 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 351
Heya Levi.

Interesting feature you pointed out. Imagine how insane it would be to get Sub-Tropical Storm Arlene in March?

Wind shear is pretty high though. But that would be amazing!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24148
Re Comment #382:

I agree with Dr. Seitter's call for less polarization on the climate change issue--but a simple change in nomenclature won't accomplish that task, I don't think.

Seitter's correct about those who use the word "skeptic"; all scientists--and science-minded people--should be skeptical. That's how science moves forward. But in his words, "I have seen some pretty egregious cases of individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics accepting claims that support their position with little or no documented evidence while summarily dismissing the results of carefully replicated studies that do not." So there's that.

He also goes on to say, "I have seen cases of climate scientists who have swept aside reasonable counter hypotheses as irrelevant, or even silly, without giving them proper consideration." Perhaps because I affiliate myself with that second group I may be biased, but in my experience of studying and writing about climate science, what the "unconvinced" consider "reasonable counter hypotheses" and what I do are two very different things. That is, saying that NASA, NOAA, and the UK Met office are run by incompetent and possibly evil nitwits whose degrees and experience mean absolutely nothing isn't a "reasonable counter hypothesis". Claiming that all the evidence of a warming planet is false, phony, fake, misinterpreted, and manipulated isn't a "reasonable counter hypothesis", either. Neither is saying that some deity will magically stop us from harming either the planet he or she made, or us, the creatures crawling upon it.

No, a "reasonable counter hypothesis" would explain that the planet isn't warming, and why it isn't; it would explain how the rapidly rising CO2 levels are not affecting temperatures; it would explain how, despite the numerous markers indicating otherwise, that excess CO2 isn't from man's activities. I've not seen any such valid "reasonable counter hypothesis". Only endless obsessions with "algore", and endless talk of the ranks of greedy climate scientists enriching themselves off their lush government grants, and endless rehashings of many-times-debunked pseudoscience and wishful thinking, and endless obfuscation put out by people who stand to gain hundreds of billions of dollars more by effectively delaying any and all mitigation efforts.

So far as Seitter's own suggestion of using the labels "convinced" and "unconvinced", I'm not at all sure those are much better or different than what we have now. Calling a person "convinced" implies that they've bought into the theory lock, stock, and barrel, and absoluteyly nothing could ever possibly sway them. That's definitely not me, nor most of the AGWT adherents I know. "Unconvinced", on the other hand, isn't much different than "skeptic", as it still allows folks to simply use the same arguments as always, though wrapped in a newer piece of paper. I'm not sure where the benefit would lie, then, though if Seitter and others want to use them, of course they would work just as well as anything now used.

Seitter's correct that "a reasonable discussion on the science is unlikely if we cannot find non-offensive terminology for those who have taken positions different than our own." But as with any sharply divided issue, it's only natural--if not healthy--that polarization occurs. And with such polarization, offense is, sadly, bound to occur. That's just how we humans are.

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Musings of a Saturday morning. As always, feel free to ignore.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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