On one hand NASA calls it ‘unprecedented’ and in the same breath they acknowledged that it happened last in 1889. It seems all what NASA was trying to say it is ‘unprecedented’ from the point of merely satellite data which was available only from 1979—for a period of 32 years
The Greenland ice sheet on 8th July (left); and four days later on the right. An estimated 97% of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. Photograph: NASA
This satellite image was basically designed to frighten by a section of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). And succeeded they did through the media interest in the story and the scare they triggered among global citizens. And they should be. According to satellite data, an estimated 97% of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July!
These two juxtaposed images of Greenland are based on observations snapped by three satellites including one by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) satellite and the other from Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites but as collectively analyzed by NASA. The colour coding indicated areas marked in white are places where no surface melting of the Greenland ice sheet had taken place. Areas in pale pink were seen by just one satellite while areas in dark pink were seen by two or three satellites to undergo surface melting. The images released by NASA accordingly show a rapid thaw between 8th July and 12th July, when measurements from the three satellites showed a swift expansion of the area of melting ice, from about 40% of the ice sheet surface to 97%.
The narrative of the NASA press release entitled “Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt” fuelled more hysteria:
“Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that most of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on 12th July.
Nghiem said, “This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?”
Nghiem consulted with Dorothy Hall at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Hall studies the surface temperature of Greenland using the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. She confirmed that MODIS showed unusually high temperatures and that melt was extensive over the ice sheet surface.
Thomas Mote, a climatologist at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga; and Marco Tedesco of City University of New York also confirmed the melt seen by Oceansat-2 and MODIS with passive-microwave satellite data from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder on a US Air Force meteorological satellite.
The melting spread quickly. Melt maps derived from the three satellites showed that on 8th July, about 40% of the ice sheet’s surface had melted. By 12th July, 97% had melted.
This extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated Greenland’s weather since the end of May.
“Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one,” said Mote. This latest heat dome started to move over Greenland on 8th July, and then parked itself over the ice sheet about three days later. By 16th July, it had begun to dissipate.
Even the area around Summit Station in central Greenland, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point of the ice sheet, showed signs of melting. Such pronounced melting at Summit and across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889, according to ice cores...
“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.”
So was it unprecedented as NASA termed it?
The press release contradicted itself. On one hand NASA calls it ‘unprecedented’ and in the same breath they acknowledged that it happened last in 1889. What should we make of such contradiction? It seems all what NASA was trying to say it is ‘unprecedented’ from the point of merely satellite data which was available only from 1979—for a period of 32 years.
Now, according to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, ‘unprecedented’ is defined as: “having no precedent: novel, unexampled” But scientifically, such kind melting appears regularly in around 150 year cycles. Whoever prepared the NASA press release should perhaps go back to school to learn English grammar again.
This is what Mary Albert, Executive Director of the NSF Ice Core Drilling office, and Kaitlin Keegan, an engineering PhD student and a fellow in Dartmouth’s polar environmental change program, working on a paper on the Greenland ice sheet melt, told FoxNews.com:
“In Greenland there have been many deep ice-core drilling projects which drilled ice to the bedrock. In the past 10,000 years (the Holocene), there is on average a melt layer every 150 years.”
This is confirmed by Lora Koenig, a glaciologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md breaking ranks with his other colleagues in NASA:
“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.”
In the absence of thermometers and satellite measurements, climatologists resort to temperature proxies. Though all proxies have their limitations, ice core measurements are considered most accurate. A major advantage of analysing ice cores is that they show levels of CO2 in the atmosphere at different points in Earth’s history, as well as recording temperature. All other methods of calculating past temperatures cannot do this. Air bubbles remain trapped in the ice. Scientists use these to find out the concentration of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. The ice also stores traces of other substances, like salt, which is transported by wind from the ocean. This helps scientists to calculate the amount of sea ice surrounding the polar regions.
Climate sceptics had a field day. We said the NASA report itself was the only ‘unprecedented’ aspect to the whole event.
“NASA should start distributing dictionaries to the authors of its press releases,”
Anthony Watts, a noted climate sceptic and the author of the Watts Up With That
blog wryly commented:
“It’s somewhat like the rush to blame severe weather and drought on global warming. Yet when you look into the past, you find precedence for what is being described today as unprecedented...”
How real is the claim that nearly all Greenland ice sheets have all melted?
The melting of such a huge ice sheet—spanning an area of 656,000 square miles (1.7 million square kilometres)—is important for various reasons, particularly its potential effect on sea levels. If melted completely, the Greenland ice sheet could contribute 23 feet (7 meters) to global sea-level rise, according to a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body charged with assessing climate change. In fact, past research has suggested that the Greenland ice sheet will vanish in 2,000 years under business-as-usual carbon emissions. If humans managed to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), the disappearance would take 50,000 years.
So 97% ice sheet melt in just four days as claimed by NASA would indeed make it an unprecedented event. Combined, their impact would not only have triggered a sudden sea-rise but a mega-tsunami as well that would have made the Asian Tsunami of 2004 look like a gentle ripple!!!
And yet, when asked should NASA give out a mega tsunami warning, they sheepishly replied:
“Whether or not this recent massive melt will affect the overall ice loss this summer, and as such bump up sea level, is still an open question.”
So 97% of the ice sheets of Greenland are supposed to have been melted which should hypothetically result in a 23 ft sea rise and all that NASA has to say about such a probability is that it is “still an open question”.
They must be treating us, the non-NASA world, as imbecile idiots.
The key word in NASA’s press release was “surface ice”. It is important to appreciate what it really means. The fact is that the ice sheet has not vanished and it stays all intact. Only a few centimetres of its surface ice may have melted as they happen every summer. Usually as much as 50%-60% of such minor surface melting occurs every summer though it may go upto 75% in certain odd years.
NASA chief scientist, Waleed Abdalati, told the media:
“When we see melt in places that we haven’t seen before, at least in a long period of time, it makes you sit up and ask what's happening. It’s a big signal, the meaning of which we’re going to sort out for years to come.”
So what we find that NASA’s chief scientist talking a different language to his glaciologist. The latter attributed the event to a 150 year cycle!
The temperature data for this month shows that Greenland temperatures have been below freezing point except for one or two minor instances where it marginally went above freezing and that too, only momentary viz. there is no evidence of sustained warming. It follows that there cannot be any massive melting with temperatures rapidly going back into freezing again and currently well below freezing levels. This should account for no sea level rise or a mega-Tsunami observed. NASA claiming that they are “yet to determine if the ice melt will contribute to the rise in sea level and affect the overall volume of ice loss in Greenland this summer” is just a face saving position.
Is the Greenland Ice Melt Because of Global Warming?
Logically, if the melt is to be attributed to global warming, it should have been an extremely gradual affair, stretching over centuries or even thousands of years.
But according to NASA this happened within a span of just four days. This clearly establishes the melt was an outcome of very short-term fluctuations in the weather, a freak event, which may or may not related to its 150 year cyclic melt.
According to a climatologist, Dr Jason Box: “The ends of the ice ages were triggered when earth's wobble placed the Arctic in position to receive maximum summer time solar heating. The relatively small effects of the orbital variations were amplified by the melting of snow and ice which reflect sunlight back to space. Because rock and water take up heat from sunlight, ice loss adds heat to the environment, leading to more ice loss.”
So the Arctic losing some its ice sheets is not a recent phenomenon as it is made out to be. Because of the Earth’s wobble changes, we came out of the last Ice Age, Younger Dras and entered into the present warm epoch, the Holocene some 11,500 ago. Sea levels were initially about 350 to 400 feet (100 to 150 meters) lower than it is today. It rose rapidly until about 8,000 years ago and more slowly since. However since the Antarctica that receives more indirect rays of the sunlight has been growing at record levels. The Antarctica accounts for nearly 90% of all glaciers on Earth and the Arctic hardly 5%. However, climate alarmists suppress the fact that the Antarctica had been growing even as the Arctic sea ice had been receding because these are inconvenient facts.
The real explanation for this summer’s freak warming of Greenland could be traced to the jetstream. Greenland's 10,000 foot altitude is an obstacle to the atmospheric circulation. Usually the jet stream solves this problem by staying to the south of Greenland, keeping it cold at the summit all year round. This year’s summer temperatures have risen above freezing at the summit station 10,000 feet above sea level because the jetstream has gone more northwards. These temperatures are the highest ever measured at the summit. The atmospheric anomalies over Greenland are greater than the anomalies that caused record heat over the United States. The shocking dome of warm air over Greenland produced one bizarre cold and rain as it forced the jet stream south on its east coast towards England; and floods in Northern China.
One large factor that greatly contributed to the rapid surface melting of Greenland had to do with ridging across the large island, that is, higher pressures in the region. Throughout late May and through July, the North Atlantic Oscillation, also called the NAO, has been in a negative state. When the NAO is its negative mode, it typically means increased ridging across Greenland. When ridging occurs, pressures rise and thus provide more sunshine and warmer temperatures across the region. This process—which resulted in what climatologists call a heat dome—greatly influenced the melting across Greenland. A series of strong ridges over the region brought weather conducive for ice to melt.
So the negative NAO combining with a jetstream anomaly resulted in the freak ice sheet surface melt we saw during mid-July.
Typical Case-Study of Climate Hysteria Generation
Anthony Watts, a noted climate sceptic and the author of the Watts Up With That
blog wryly commented: “The belief that almost any aberration in weather and climate today can be attributed to global warming is pure folly”
NASA finds itself committing one folly after another but apparently isn’t learning any lessons from these experiences because of its pro-global warming outlook. Recently NASA found itself with a rebellion with its stalwarts, past and present, demanding that NASA stick to its primary mandate - space programmes rather than discrediting the institution through its continuing blunders of its climate advocacy.
Select excerpts from the letter:
• “The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.”
• “We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated.”
• “We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject.”
This latest gaffe would only accentuate the inner struggle within NASA. Let’s hope, at least now, NASA would redeem itself by giving up its Global Warming obsession and stop making an ass of itself.
(Rajan Alexander is a Bangalore-based social sector consultant involved with NGO section for over 30 years. His views/writings can be found on devconsultancygroup.blogspot.com)