Why is Greenland losing ice?

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.

Greenland temperatures

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]

Greenland ice sheet

18 Thoughts on “Why is Greenland losing ice?

  1. Alexander K on May 6, 2011 at 11:29 pm said:

    I take anything published by the Herald with large doses of salt as it has the nasty habit of picking the climate scares it wants to promulgate and ignoring everything non-warmist.
    The Greenland ice science is much more complicated and obscure than this article suggests. ‘Nullias in verbia’ seems to be good advice for this little tale.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on May 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm said:

    Here’s the Executive Summary of the report via a TIME blog article:-


    Lot’s of modeling, advocacy and “a great deal of uncertainty”.

    TIME blog article:-


  3. Alexander K on May 7, 2011 at 1:57 am said:

    Richard, you are no doubt aware of the brilliance of modern Renaissance Man Willis Eschenbach who frequently posts on WUWT. He discussed the habit of climatologists to rely on unproven and frequently eror-riddled models in a recent post on WUWT titled ‘Models All the Way Down’. An essential read for anyone interested in climate science, particularly Herald copy-cobblers and other cut-and-paste merchants of doom!

  4. Richard C (NZ) on May 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm said:

    Case in point from the Herald article “Big Oil digs deep as if spill never happened”


    After a desperate attempt to link the USA tornadoes to climate change (despite the inclusion of an NOAA assurance that “no scientific consensus” exists of a link), we arrive at this quote:-

    “But it focused attention on what drives climate change: the carbons pumped into a warming atmosphere by our profligate use of fossil fuels”.

    Apparently there are no other possible drivers and the measurement the last decade of atmospheric temperature have been reading low.

    An aside note: when I typed in “Herald article”, a Herald article history search box came up in a new browser tab with a list of CCG relevant headlines. First time this has happened – new feature Richard T?

  5. Richard C (NZ) on May 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm said:

    Thanks Alexander, due to some long work hours at present I don’t have the luxury of covering all the bases. I’ve also had my head tied in knots over the atm heat capacity – heat content in respect to additional CO2 and WV thanks to Huub Baker.

    I couldn’t find the article when i did a search at WUWT but I think I’ve got a reasonable grasp of model nuances. I did notice that the AMAP report is topical. See:-

    “Oh noes! Sea level rising three times faster than expected (again)”


    The report seems to be recycled (serial regurgitation as A.W. puts it). There’s reference to an Eschenbach article “Putting the Brakes on Acceleration”


    “More Arctic & sea level “worse than we thought” scare stories”


    Includes a scary story demolishing plot by Steve Goddard showing actual sea level rise in blue measured by Envisat (3 mm per year), versus the claimed rate of the experts (green) (15 mm /year.)

    BTW, I think I’ve resolved Gareth Renowden’s “More CO2 means more heat retained in the system”

    He’s confusing potential heat capacity with actual measured heat content. It does not necessarily follow that just because there is more CO2 in the atmosphere that more heat will actually be retained; it is conditional on the requisite temperature and pressure conditions . This is proven by the missing hot spot in the critical pressure region about 400 – 200 hPa at 8 – 12 km altitude above the tropics


  6. Richard C (NZ) on May 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm said:

    i.e. If the required temperature is not being observed in critical pressure regions, he’s wrong.

  7. Flipper on May 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm said:

    Can we put O’Herald’s Murphy in a glass of water….. and add a BUNCH OF ICE..
    When the ice melts, the level will not have changed.
    So, we go from season to season and so on. But it means nothing.
    Aka Grenland at erl.

    O’Herald’s (Sans the Hortons [whatever their perceived faults] ) Bell, Munro, Hintz, Hardingham, Chappell, and the living P.J.Scherer will sleep easier.
    Ellis? Who?
    Murphy? Murphy, who?

  8. Andy on May 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm said:

    Meanwhile Poland is experiencing very cold weather.


    Oh, I guess I am cherry-picking again. /sarc

  9. Andy on May 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm said:

    The final paragraph gives the game away

    “I’m not sure what is more alarming, the glacial pace of Congress to reduce carbon pollution or the astounding rate of melting Arctic ice,” Lou Leonard, climate chief at the World Wildlife Fund, said of the new report.

    I wonder what role the WWF had in putting together this article?
    They seem to pop up all over the place.

    Louise Gray of the Telegraph basically regurgitates WWF press releases. is the Herald any different?

  10. Richard C (NZ) on May 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm said:

    The AP article is BS (e.g. Japan Today).

    It states:-

    The AMAP report said melting glaciers and ice sheets worldwide have become the biggest contributor to sea level rise. Greenland’s ice sheet alone accounted for more than 40 percent of the 0.12 inches (3.1 millimeters) of sea-level rise observed annually between 2003 and 2008, AMAP said.

    BS. The 3.1. mm trend is 1993 – present, but the trend from 2003 – 2008 is 1.8 mm per year and 2009 – present is 2 mm per year.

    There will have to be some radical rise to catch up to the 15 mm per year reqd for a 1.5 m rise by 2100.

    But then the projection is “highly uncertain”.

  11. Richard C (NZ) on May 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm said:

    Worse still, there’s increasing SSL deceleration since about 2004 (in concert with OHC) to the extent that the rise is almost topped out using a 3rd order polynomial trend.


  12. The Bilk on May 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm said:

    I can’t relate to this.

  13. The Ilk on May 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm said:

    Why not?………..You’re an ocean specialist aren’t you?

  14. The Bilk on May 8, 2011 at 6:36 pm said:

    Climate change is humanities greatest challenge.

  15. The Ilk on May 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm said:

    Yeah right.

  16. Quentin F on May 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm said:

    Here on Hide the decline
    show significant sea-ice volume increasing towards 2010 after drops in 2007 2009 nothing more than natural processes far beyond human activity.
    1. Reports on Iceage now CLEARLY show continued record snow levels in the NH particularly NA.
    2. Solar cycle 24 is much weaker. The global temperatures ARE dropping to deny it is unphysical.

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