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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Thank you Miss, may I have another....And a nother.... And another..
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Taz does not have a lot of weather knowledge. I retract my former statement per tazs request.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

The link is broken.

As an aside, it almost seems that the actual science content of a site is directly proportional to the ability of contrarians the "unconvinced" to consistently post links to it. ;-)
              It must not be true then, my bad!
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Raw: Security cam captures tornado
www.weather.com



The owner of Meche's Family Drug Store in Rayne, sent us this video from his security cameras. An EF2 tornado ripped through town on Saturday, killing a young mother and injuring 12 more.
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ka-zing,

(cymbal crash,LOUD)
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Quoting overwash12:
www.worldclimatereport.com/.../a-christmas-story- some-facts-about-greenland/ - History repeats itself.

The link is broken.

As an aside, it almost seems that the actual science content of a site is directly proportional to the ability of contrarians the "unconvinced" to consistently post links to it. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13469
Frigging Fracker's...


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I think I can, I think I can!

WTI Crude Oil
$105.59 ▲$1.17
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Speaking of fracking:

2 firms to suspend earthquake zone injection wells

"Two natural gas companies agreed Friday to temporarily cease operations of injection wells in an area of central Arkansas that has seen more than 800 earthquakes during the past six months. Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy and Clarita Operating of Little Rock said they would comply with the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission's emergency request to stop all injection activities in Greenbrier- and Guy-area wells used to dispose of wastewater from production. The panel's next regular meeting is March 29.

"Geologists are studying a swarm of recent area quakes, most tiny, in an attempt to determine whether there is a connection between the seismic activity and gas-drilling companies' work in the Fayetteville Shale formation. A 4.7-magnitude earthquake, the most powerful reported in the state in 35 years, struck near Greenbrier on Sunday night."

Article...

It is so good to see at least a bit of wisdom infiltrate the generally impervious-to-common-sense walls of Big Energy--even if it is motivated purely by profit. ;-)
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977. Skyepony (Mod)
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www.worldclimatereport.com/.../a-christmas-story- some-facts-about-greenland/ -                                                                                                                                                                                History repeats itself.
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975. Skyepony (Mod)
From that low I mentioned wsw of Spain yesterday..

Floods have devastated the port municipality of Algeciras (Cádiz) this weekend, with emergency services being called out on but as numerous as 400 occasions and residents warned not to go out in their cars under any circumstances. Torrential rain has led to flooding of houses, shops, garages and underbuilds, and the road to the port has been sealed off. According to emergency services, the heavy rain coincided with high tide, and the two factors together meant the street drainage was not able to administer with the sheer volume of water. Algeciras municipality council estimates that in the region 175 houses are flooded. Local Police have chop off the north exit from the municipality leading to the A-7 motorway, meaning in the city is no way in or out from the Málaga direction. All ferry connections have been stopped. The state meteorological agency, AEMET, has called a state of pre-emergency for heavy rain and floods in the provinces of Cádiz, Huelva, and the Spanish-owned city of Ceuta on the northern coast of Morocco.
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974. Skyepony (Mod)
Two men were taken to a hospital after an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico caught fire Sunday morning, officials said. The fire broke out on the GI 102A oil production rig owned by Arena that is about 50 miles off Grand Isle at about 8 a.m. Sunday, according to the Coast Guard. Coast Guard officials said the men were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, La. Their names, injuries and conditions were not released. A Coast Guard helicopter crew had hoisted the men from the deck of a ship, the HDS Stormridge, after they were plucked from the water as they floated in a life capsule they had clamored aboard to the escape the platform fire, officials said. Coast Guard officials said Arena reported the platform had been shut in two weeks ago and was not producing product at the time of the blaze. The fire was out by at least 1:30 p.m.. No pollution was detected at the rig because of the fire, officials said. Officials are trying to determine what caused the blaze.
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967. beell 2:24 PM GMT on March 07, 2011
JFLORIDA, What an arrogant, ignorant little pricklet your are! Maybe when you grow up you can be a full-size Pr**k...

946. JFLORIDA 8:28 AM GMT on March 07, 2011
How can a academic setting facilitate an political ignoramus like Ryan Maue to trash its scientific reputation is beyond me.

Why he went that route I cannot say.

His piece basically has no logical argument or scientific argument that merits his opinion. Indeed the news source isnt actually the only consideration in a reference. Perhaps I am reading it wrong.

Please post a counter argument if I am incorrect. I will post a blog on it later.

I this the same Ryan that posts here occasionally? Unless I am mistaken I would hope not.



Action: Quote | Ignore User
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ya he is becoming a tad psyco over all of it
he is becoming consumed by it
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972. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Brisbane
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin
TROPICAL LOW 21U
11:00 PM EST March 7 2011
======================================

At 10:00 PM EST, Tropical Low (1005 hPa) located at 15.7S 158.2E, or about 880 km east of Willis Is and 1130 km east northeast of Mackay has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The low is reported as moving east northeast at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T1.0/1.0/D1.0/24 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 15.4S 160.6E - 30 knots (Tropical Low)
24 HRS: 15.5S 162.5E - 30 knots (Tropical Low)
48 HRS: 16.8S 167.8E - 35 knots (CAT 1)
72 HRS: 19.3S 170.6E - 45 knots (CAT 1)

Additional Information
========================

System in a low to moderate shear environment but in a strong upper divergent flow. Deep moist inflow to the northeast, ensure that the system likely to intensify. System expected to move northeast due to deep southwesterly caused by an upper trough to the south.

The next tropical cyclone bulletin on Tropical Low 21U from Brisbane Tropical Cyclone Warning Center will be issued at 19:00 PM UTC..

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Quoting biff4ugo:
Good Morning/evening.

I like the way this week is going so far.

Looking at Dr. Masters' Greenland Ice Mass graph...
the mass rebound of Greenland's ice sheet in 1995 shows some of the variability in the system. If the trend in mass loss over 15 years can be balanced by 1 year of recovery, it makes that trend seem much less dire. That is good news to me.


You did notice the trendline, did you not? You know, that straight and downward-sloping line going from the upper left to the lower right of the image? ;-) Seriously, though, in spite of that anomalously huge 1995 increase, by the end of 1996 there was still far less ice than there was at the beginning of 1994.
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965. Patrap 2:14 PM GMT on March 07, 2011
Today is "Lundi Gras"
Action: Quote | Ignore User
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have a good one pat have a drink for me
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Quoting NRAamy:
You know it.... Taz has more weather knowledge than most people on here.... And everyone likes him....



i wish you would stop saying things that are not ture i do no have a lot of weather knowledg am this a guy that likes the weather that dos not mean i have a lot of weather knowledg why you think am not a featured blogger??? right now


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Good Morning/evening.

I like the way this week is going so far.

Looking at Dr. Masters' Greenland Ice Mass graph...
the mass rebound of Greenland's ice sheet in 1995 shows some of the variability in the system. If the trend in mass loss over 15 years can be balanced by 1 year of recovery, it makes that trend seem much less dire. That is good news to me.

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Today is "Lundi Gras"
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959. DEKRE
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Does that work with sublimation too? Just wondering....


You need actually more energy
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DEEP COLD AIR OF WINTER STILL BEING DEPICTED LIFTING UP AND OUT BY END OF RUN

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956. DEKRE
Quoting Levi32:

Yeah, the Earth is warming, energy is released from ice. It kind of proves nothing. It is the cause that is debated, not the weather that is happening around us.


I just stumbled over this LOL

The last time I looked you had to put in energy in order to melt ice!
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it depends whether the el nino builds or not
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Good Morning, The front that came thru wcfl did mostly nothing a wind shift and .06 of rain. 54 outside this am.
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you know what I am tired and I need to go to bed because I have to be at that hurricane confrence later this morning so I am out
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no its not up yet give me a few min
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anyone see my new pic avtar
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Quoting Ossqss:


This is the journal site? Did ya bother to look at anything else there aside from the self professed "peer reviewed" part. LOL

http://journalofcosmology.com/

Thank you WUWT for showing us the reality inside the hype once again. Interesting links abound in this write up, and well deserved Props to the creator :)

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/06/skeptical-s cience-meteorite-aliens-bring-out-the-armchair-exp erts/#more-35369


I don't have a horse in this race, but I am interested in the outcome. Here are:

Dr. Hoover's "CV" - he doesn't look like a crazy guy

and:

Editorial Guidelines at J. Cosmology

This research has some deep implications if it survives the current peer review process (which is underway, not completed). It's worth watching, but not worth getting excited over yet.

There is nothing to see here either way ... yet. Let's wait it out.

WTO
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Quoting Patrap:
Surface stations are not the definitive data set for the observed warming.

Far from it.

Thats a assumption.



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.




Simulated global temperature in experiments that include human influences (pink line), and model experiments that included only natural factors (blue line). The black line is observed temperature change.


Interesting chart. First time I saw that was here:

IPCC 2007 WG1 AR4, page 11, Fig SPM.4.

http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ ar4-wg1-spm.pdf

Of course, back then, it was being used to show anomalies in degrees C.

Amazing how the science has advanced in just a few years:



Back then (2007), this was the caption:

Figure SPM.4. Comparison of observed continental- and global-scale changes in surface temperature with results simulated by climate models using natural and anthropogenic forcings. Decadal averages of observations are shown for the period 1906 to 2005 (black line) plotted against the centre of the decade and relative to the corresponding average for 1901–1950. Lines are dashed where spatial coverage is less than 50%. Blue shaded bands show the 5–95% range for 19 simulations from five climate models using only the natural forcings due to solar activity and volcanoes. Red shaded bands show the 5–95% range for 58 simulations from 14 climate models using both natural and anthropogenic forcings.
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Quoting Ossqss:


This is the journal site? Did ya bother to look at anything else there aside from the self professed "peer reviewed" part. LOL

http://journalofcosmology.com/

Thank you WUWT for showing us the reality inside the hype once again. Interesting links abound in this write up, and well deserved Props to the creator :)

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/06/skeptical-s cience-meteorite-aliens-bring-out-the-armchair-exp erts/#more-35369


Yep. Journal of Cosmology. A "peer-reviewed" journal, that's been around since September - October, 2009 (vol 1).
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Quoting NRAamy:
You know it.... Taz has more weather knowledge than most people on here.... And everyone likes him....


He's on top of the stats.....quick-draw..:)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
You know it.... Taz has more weather knowledge than most people on here.... And everyone likes him....
Member Since: January 24, 2007 Posts: 317 Comments: 31946

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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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