Last week we noted how NPR and other media outlets breathlessly distorted a NASA report on melting ice in Greenland. Then last Friday Science magazine published a study of Greenland ice dynamics that further confounds the narrative. A careful review of aerial photos of changes in Greenland’s ice mass found that there have been two episodes of thinning ice over the last 30 years. Here’s the abstract:
We reveal two independent dynamic ice loss events on the northwestern Greenland Ice Sheet margin: from 1985 to 1993 and 2005 to 2010, which were separated by limited mass changes. Our results suggest that the ice mass changes in this sector were primarily caused by short-lived dynamic ice loss events rather than changes in the surface mass balance. This finding challenges predictions about the future response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to increasing global temperatures. (Emphasis added.)
The entire article is behind a subscriber firewall, but the complete article is written in the usual jargon of specialists. While not departing at all from the standard narrative of global warming, the study concludes with an acknowledgement of the limitations of current forecasting:
This [finding] implies that mass change of the northern Greenland Ice Sheet is not only a result of predictable surface processes over decadal time scales, but is foremost due to 3- to 5-year DIL events that are neither regionally systematic nor monotonic, despite a possible common oceanic forcing. Until this spatial and temporal variability in ice sheet dynamics has been resolved in ice sheet models, we will not be able to realistically predict future sea-level contributions from the Greenland Ice Sheet.
An account on the Thomson-Reuters AlterNet site, though with the odd headline “Greenland Ice Said More Robust to Climate Change Than Feared,” decodes the study quite well:
OSLO, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Greenland’s ice seems less vulnerable than feared to a runaway melt that would drive up world sea levels, according to a study showing that a surge of ice loss had petered out.
“It is too early to proclaim the ‘ice sheet’s future doom’” caused by climate change, lead author Kurt Kjaer of the University of Copenhagen wrote in a statement of the findings in Friday’s edition of the journal Science. . .
The cause of the surge in ice loss in the 1980s was unclear but might have been linked to a shift in ocean currents. The underlying cause of a change in currents was unknown.
Of course, cautiously stated research like this is no fun at all if you’re a climateer. That’s why it will be ignored.