Why is Greenland losing ice?Richard Treadgold | May 6, 2011
New report seems to assume it’s melting, but is it?
Greenland is the world’s largest island, about 2600 km long and 1100 km wide at its widest point. Most of the interior is covered by the world’s second-largest permanent ice sheet. Average temperatures rise above freezing only briefly, during the summer. Here’s a simplified graph of monthly temperatures taken from a tourism site.
Yesterday the NZ Herald reported a study finding faster melting of Arctic and Greenland ice. The scientific team thinks global sea levels could rise by as much as five feet (1.5 metres) this century.
The melting of Arctic glaciers and ice caps, including Greenland’s massive ice sheet, is projected to help raise global sea levels by 90 to 160 centimetres by 2100, AMAP said, although it noted that estimate was highly uncertain.
The report of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the scientific arm of the eight-nation Arctic Council, says Greenland was losing ice in the 2004-2009 period four times faster than in 1995-2000.
Lest we lose our heads yet again, we ought to remember that recent strong Arctic sea ice melting has been put down to warm ocean currents, not a warming atmosphere. In any case, “global warming” is considered responsible for just 0.6°C over about the last 100 years, and that won’t raise those frigid Greenland temperatures enough for ice to melt. If the Greenland ice sheet is losing mass, we need to ask why.
Being land-based, it’s not eroded by warm ocean currents. And it sure as anything isn’t because of rising air temperatures, because they’re not rising.
The Herald’s article does not enlighten us on these points. It’s mostly concerned with reporting nations are “bogged down” in negotiations on emissions and pointing out that it’s an “uphill struggle” to reduce greenhouse emissions. Perhaps the report will inform us when it’s publicly released in a few weeks. [Oops, sorry. This is wrong, since the report was released last year. I'll find it. - RT] [Curious: I cannot locate this report at the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) web site. Curiouser: The report was first announced in January 2010, but the date on the cover of the Executive Summary referenced by Richard C is 2011. Are there two reports? - RT]