back to article Greenland 'lurched upward' in 2010 as 100bn tons of ice melted

Parts of southern Greenland apparently lurched upwards by as much as 20mm as glaciers melted and ran off into the sea during 2010, according to scientists. It's thought that as much as 100 billion tons more ice than usual may have vanished from the island's ice sheet that year. Professor Michael Bevis outlined his findings in …


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  1. Thomas 4

    Whether global warmining exists or not....

    ...that's a metric fuckton of ice.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Whether global warming exists

      ...Most sceptics aren't sceptical about whether the average global temperature is changing (or that it is going up). We're just sceptical about whether the primary cause is human activity. That's a big difference.

      And yes, it is a metric fuckton of ice. ;)

      1. The First Dave

        No, it really isn't the issue - if we are all going to drown I don't think I am alone in not giving a shit whether it is man-made or not, just stop it, as soon as possible, thank-you-very-much.

        Same with alternative energy sources - oil is too valuable as a feedstuff for various chemical processes to be wasted by burning it to make electricity - that is what coal was invented for.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: if we are all going to drown

          Well you should care about what the cause is. Because if we get it wrong, we're more likely to drown than if we get it right. If the cause isn't AGW, then we'd be better off spending a few billion in helping people adapt to changing climate (moving, flood defences, whatever) than spending the same billions on combatting a misjudged cause. If we deduce that warming is going to level off, then we respond differently to if we think it's going to ramp up continually. It's downright weird that in the same paragraph that you say you don't give a shit about whether it is man-made or not, you argue that we should "just stop it as soon as possible". If you don't know the cause then it's much harder to stop something.

          As to your advocacy of coal - even with modern technology, it's still less clean and more limited in quantity than nuclear power which is what we should be replacing ALL fossil fuels with.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Most sceptics, maybe, but the author of this article, also wrote this one:

        1. Goat Jam


          Reporting that the Met Office says that the annual temperature averages have been declining in the last four years (weather) is not the same as saying the world is not warming over a longer period (climate).

          You are conflating "weather" to "climate"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Goat JAm

            No, I'm really not confusing Weather and Climate, I think you'll find that this was the tone of Lewis' article, though.

      3. heystoopid


        Ah, not heard of a satellite called GRACE, I take it?

        "GRACE measurements show the Greenland ice sheet is also losing mass at an accelerating rate, doubling between 2002 and 2009. Earlier data obtained by a number of methods show that Greenland has been losing ice since the 1990s. (Prior to the 1990s, the trend varied up and down, but this was mostly down to changes in precipitation.) Greenland is contributing 0.7 mm/yr to sea level rise; its ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea levels by 7 m. (See Copenhagen Diagnosis, “Ice Sheets of Greenland and Antarctica”.)"

        All ersatz skeptics, such as John Coleman, Marc Morano and Anthony Watts, keep telling me the globe is cooling every winter! Sadly, all the satellite and recorded temperature and proxy data dating back a million years says the exact opposite!

        In addition:-

        "In 2011 we’ve had various Arctic melting records, but for Earth’s climate system as a whole probably the year before that was more dramatic. Not only was 2010 the hottest year on record, it broke many other climate records too, like Caribbean coral bleaching, Amazon drought, and ice melting on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet – which led to an ice loss of 500 gigatonnes."

        "Normally GPS measurement stations on southern Greenland show a rise of about 15mm (0.58 inches) on average per year. During the five month melting season of 2010 the tectonic uplift jumped to 20mm (0.79in). Little tectonic movement occurred at stations in the north of Greenland."

        A true skeptic makes an informed decision based on fact based evidence from the real world!

        Ersatz skeptics, living in denial la la science fiction land, provide no fact based evidence from the real world to support their fictional arguments of pure nonsense.

        "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Winston Churchill

        A cynical American saying :- "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!"

  2. Lord Midas


    Goes to show just how heavy that ice was With the weight removed the Earths Mantle probably sloshed a little and Greenland bobbed up to it's natural level.

    Of course sloshed and bobbled are slightly extreme discriptions, but could it have been enough movement to cause an Earthquake or Tsunami on the oppisite side of the planet (i.e. Japan)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're right that Greenland and the ice float on the mantle, but the mantle is a very viscous liquid, and the deformation is spread over too large an area to cause any significant local shear forces.

      The Earth is a big molten ball with scum floating on it, some parts thickier than others, as slow magma currents cause it to crinkle, not unlike the skin on boiled milk.

      For an extreme illustration, try pressing an inflated balloon with your finger - the area around it will also depress and increase tension in the skin over the whole balloon. (So perhaps, if another 10km layer of ice presses the land hard enough, then the tectonic plates would stretch, pull apart and open up elsewhere, then removing that ice would reduce tension in the crust, increase tectonic friction and delay any pending earthquakes, only to be bigger in magnitude than otherwise would be).

      Therefore, as the ice melts, and its average weight decreases, not only the bedrock relaxes and rises, but also the seabed around the coast too, causing further displacement of the water above. Double (or one and a bit) whammy.

      A few mm doesn't sound much, but it adds up to a big problem if we and our ecosystem can't adapt quickly enough.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nyergh... must comment

        'The Earth is a big molten ball with scum floating on it, some parts thickier than others, as slow magma currents cause it to crinkle, not unlike the skin on boiled milk.'

        As S-waves show, the Mantle is solid. If you drill a hole down through the Crust from almost anywhere on the Earth's surface the first liquid you will hit is in the Outer Core - and then you'll hit a geyser of molten iron.

        It's much better to think of the Earth as being similar to a cold Mars Bar. The outside chocolate shell (the Crust) is brittle, below that is a caramel which is technically solid yet highly plastic layer (the Asthenosphere), below that is a solid layer of fudge which is still plastic (the Mantle proper). Bend the Mars Bar slowly and the Crust cracks, but the Asthenosphere and Mantle bend gradually. Hit it hard and they fracture.

        Likewise the Mantle undergoes flow over the long term, but remains entirely solid.

        Where this theory breaks down is that the Earth is much less delicious than a Mars Bar.

        If you really want to see isostatic rebound in action, drive along Route 1 in Southern Iceland between Hveragerði and Vík í Mýrdal. The enormous cliffs on the left of the car are the old sea cliffs from about 10kya; the strip of land you're driving on is the old beach and the sea is anything up to 10km away on the right. Towards Reykjavik the calculations are that rebounds were anything up to 7cm PER YEAR in the immediate postglacial period which would put them amongst the fastest known.

        1. LaeMing

          Damn your metaphor, Mike Richards!

          Now I must go visit the vending machine out in the corridor!

    2. Chemist

      "Goes to show just how heavy that ice was"

      I believe that GPS based altimeter readings show the SW of England rising and falling each tide by a measurable amount due to the continental crust being pushed down by the increased weight of the sea.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      The sea-bed slippage for the Japan quake was a couple of dozen metres, so I doubt a couple of centimetres on the other side of the world was to blame.

  3. scepas

    Reliable bias

    Once again, we can count on The Reg to reliably make us believe global warming is just a harmless fad. Hope you are right, however unlikely that may seem when considering what 99% of climatologist think.

    1. Antony Riley

      Irrespective of whether the reg is right or not, I suspect your figure of 99% of climatologists is entirely wrong.

      1. scepas

        Change 99% for "the overwhelming majority". The underlying message is the same

        1. david 63

          Sorry scepas...

          You said 99%.

          Using the alarmist tactic of producing unsupported numbers in the hope that everyone swallows them down shows your true colours.

      2. John Hughes

        Entirely wrong.


        And what does "entirely" mean? If the real figure were 98,9% would that be "entirely" wrong? Or 90%?

        What do you "suspect" the real figure is?

    2. James Micallef Silver badge


      Well, it's the climate researcher's own data that showed that previous estimates of volume of ice melt were 3 X the actual melt.

      I can only speak for myself not for el Reg, and I do believe that the earth is warming and that human activity is to some extent responsible. I also believe that the extent of our responsibilty is less than it is made out to be, that the earth will be just fine if it warms by a couple of degrees, and that extreme environmentalists / scaremongering press / politicians / NGOs routinely emphasise worst-case scenarios and apocalyptic visions over the more likely middle-of-the-road scenarios. I also know enough about computer modelling to know that when modelling highly complicated systems, some parts of which are not properly understood, predictions 10 or 20 years into the future are suspect (let alone 50 or 100 years).

      I get enough doom and gloom from the rest of the press combined, and while I know that el Reg pull a bit too much towards scepticism, I am thankful to them for publicising 'out-of-the-mainstream' articles and ideas that would not be published in most mainstream media

      1. scepas

        I love el Reg as much as anyone else, but I do believe that most of the comments they make regarding climate change tend to play down the problem.

        I just would love to see articles supporting both sides of the arguments. I don't want scaremongering; but neither think that burying our collective head under the sand is a responsible attitude.

        1. Keep Refrigerated

          "I just would love to see articles supporting both sides of the arguments."

          Most of us who come to El Reg would love to see that in 99%* of the rest of the media.

          *No research to back that percentage up, just pulled it out of my arse - 99%** of statistics are like that.

          **Yeah, that too.

    3. dogged


      Do you mean old fashioned meteorologists or those new people who get paid to predict the Apocalypse?

    4. Ammaross Danan


      99%? Let alone ones not using the ficticious data coming from a certain major climatology centre...?

      Anyway, "might accelerate massively in a runaway positive feedback loop if global temperatures climb, and so become a major problem"

      The world will quake in fear at a whole 2mm (guess based on only 0.25 coming from a major melt of Greenland) sea-level rise annually. Perhaps in 10 years, that one whole inch worth of extra sea-level will cover my sand castle....

      1. Tom 13

        I'm a 53er not a 99er.

        Personally, I'd prefer to shoot 99ers on sight, but that isn't permitted by current law.

      2. John Hughes

        It seems you haven't got the memo.

        "ficticious data coming from a certain major climatology centre."

        Sorry. Current thinking among skeptics is that CRU are the only reliable source of climate data.

        (Because it's the CRU data that shows "no warming since whenever").


        Yes, this is ironic.

    5. BoldMan

      and climatologists have of course proven to be honest, truthful, accurate and exceptional scientists

      1. scepas

        Most of them are hardworking, talented people who certainly do know more about the future of climate than you and me.

    6. G Watty What?

      Opinion Split...Pirates Saved?

      99% of climatologists may think global warming a real concern but only 50% of voters think your opinion is sound (16 up 16 down at the time of writing).

      Personally, I'm with the FSM on this one. Global warming is due to the lack of water loving Pirates in this modern age (I realise we are full to the brim with MP3 swapping kind the land lubbing scummers).

      Still if I were a pirate wouldn't this be good news I mean a call of "We be damned I tells yer....oh no there's some land that just popped up out of the ocean. We're saved" is an amazing thing.

      Why won't anyone think of the pirates?

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. N Ward

      Err, no

      Even accepting all of your implicit assumptions you might want to check your working, I think you may have missed a factor of 1000 (among others) somewhere along the way...!

      1. Armando 123

        A factor of 1000? Close enough for government work, then. As a former professor once said, "We're looking for an order of magnitude in the log."

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Openminded Cynic

      Better Solution

      (1). Sack all climatologists or any group involved in predicting "climate change" or similar.

      (2). Use funds saved buy not having to employ persons described in (1) to build a 10m sea wall around the entire coastline thus effectively defending the country from the effects of "climate change" come what may.

      (3). ????

      (4). Profit!!!!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I can't tell if you're serious or not, which is it?

    4. veti Silver badge


      ... we can set up a wind farm with this comment written on a huge board behind it, and promote it as a tourist attraction to engineering students. The guffaws of derision should power us all nicely.

      There's a little something called "thermodynamics", which says that pumping (relatively) warm water into a cold place won't actually reduce the total amount of heat in the world.

  5. IDoNotThinkSo

    Is the rebound that quick? I thought Scotland was still rebounding now, 10,000 years after the last ice age. Oh, and London is still sinking, too.

  6. David Wilcox

    Isostasy in action!

  7. Steve Evans

    Quite common...

    The UK is still doing this from the last ice age, that's how we manage to get little earth quakes even though we are nowhere near a fault.

  8. Kevin Johnston

    Long term rise?

    I recall a program some years ago which showed islands in the Med on which you could see erosion marks from wave action. These marks stretched some way up the rock face which they said showed how sea levels had dropped!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The islands of the Aegean show wild changes in sea level, but these are tectonic in origin as the southern Mediterranean is subducted under the Aegean. Many parts of Greece are being stretched and dragged under the waves, but towards Turkey you see islands pushing out of the ocean.

      The Baltic is a better place to see isostasy in action. Lake Mälaren just West of Stockholm was a branch of the Baltic as recently as the Viking Age, today it is a freshwater lake linked to the ocean by the Riddarfjärden. Rebound continues at about 1cm per year which also means that the Stockholm Archipelago keeps growing new islands.

  9. James Micallef Silver badge

    any el reg boffins out there?

    - what is a "gravity-measuring satellite" and how does this "measuring gravity" work? Is it supposed to detect differences in mass through differences in gravity? Surely gravity is so weak that even many metric fucktons of ice wouldn't register?

    - GPS?? I thought that measures longitude / latitude position. Can it also measure altitude??

    - when measuring sea-level changes, how do boffins know whether it's the sea rising or the land subsiding?

    1. Bob Wheeler

      re:any el reg boffins out there?

      GPS is used in Aircraft for navigation. It just needs a couple more satalite signles to do the maths to work out altitude.

      The only question would be to what accuracy is the GPS working at. I seem to think that mill grade GPS is down to 10 or 20m at best. If so, how do you get down to 20mm?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Military GPS is considerably more accurate than 10m, as is civilian. The reason your handheld unit is only accurate to 10m is because you're moving.

        I remember playing around with a handheld US Military GPS unit back in the mid 90's. If you used the antenna, and set it about 20 feet from you in a low vibration area, you could get down to less than 1m accuracy after a while. It took 30 minutes, but it could do it. I'd be shocked if the technology hadn't improved beyond that point since then, especially when using a fixed base station instead of a handheld unit. And why not use a receiver with multiple antennas to further improve accuracy?

    2. Daniel Evans

      Geodesy - a pretty well established science, and you've been able to show the earth's gravity varies by position for a long time.

      As for doing it by satellite, GOCE's been in the news a lot, surprised you didn't hear:

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google for GRACE GOCE and geoid - the wiki/Geoid shows a nice illustration.

      The Earth is gravitationally lumpy, and can be measured by tiny changes in satellites' velocities. Greenland appears as an especially large lump..

      GPS is a 3D system using atomic clocks for precise timing - it could not work without knowing altitude!

      The 50 GPS stations on Greenland are static, and become extremely accurate as errors are averaged out over several thousands of samples per day. They can measure absolutely if the land rises by a millimetre instead of the sea.

      GPS at sea on buoys are less precise, but error averaging still works, though there is a lot more variation due to tides, wind, storm surges, local air pressure, currents, subsurface topography, changes in water density, temperature/salinity...

      Sea levels and the shapes of it can be measured accurately using satellites. It isn't the same everywhere.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Thanks for the answers, a lot clearer now :)

  10. Carlo Graziani

    Sea Level Rise Isn't From Melting

    Er, Lewis, ice cap melting isn't the dominant effect in sea-level rise. Rise is dominated by the thermal expansion of water, by more than an order of magnitude.

    The thermal expansion coefficient of water is about 2E-04 per degree C. That is to say, for each increase in the average temperature of the ocean, the volume of water increases by about 0.02 per cent. Assuming a water-world with an average depth of 2 km, that means that on average, each increase of 1 degree C brings with it a height change of the oceans of about 40 cm. Which dwarfs any effect from newly-freed polar meltwater.

    And, please note, as a matter of empirical observation, the Earth's temperature is rising. We may not be able to model climate well enough to forecast the extent of the rise over a century, or nail down the anthropogenic element to the satisfaction of every climate-change skeptic, but just making a relatively conservative estimate of one degree by 2100, based on the observation that average temp increased by that much over the course of the past century, it seems clear that we're to kiss a lot of low-lying habitable areas goodbye. I won't miss Florida so much, but an awful lot of people live in Bangladesh...

    1. John Arthur

      different at depth...

      Most of the ocean lies below the influence of the heat input from the Sun. There is little mixing of warm and cold; the cold water is denser and stays down (at close to 4C) and the warm stays on top. You therefore need to calculate the expansion based on the top few meters which are the only bits which are warming, not the whole depth.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sounds logical, but salinity of seawater also has a big influence - the thermohaline circulation mixes the layers, so the deep ocean will eventually warm too, that is, if the lack of ice doesn't doesn't disrupt the cycle.

        It appears that total exchange of deep and surface water exchange is about 1600 years, but there will be regions where the exchange is quicker.

  11. JeffyPooh

    If Greenland goes up, then ocean floors will fall...

    You can't have one without the other.

    PS: We should still chase renewable energy even if it's twice the price. Fossil fuels have quadrupled in price, so most complaints about price fall apart.

    1. IDoNotThinkSo

      That's an interesting point.

      Loss of sea ice = no sea level rise.

      Loss of land ice - we've always been told there would be sea level rise. But...if the land rises as a result, and the sea floor drops - is that really the case? As Greenland is almost entirely ice covered, and surrounded by sea, the ice will raise the sea level by displacing the sea bed upwards, by a volume close to its weight. Once in the sea, it does the same.

      So if the whole of Greenland melted out, would there be any sea level rise in the long run?

      This obviously wouldn't work for continents not completely (or almost completely) covered in ice, as it might be that some surrounding land sinks instead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but... all the continents sitting on those ocean floors fall too.

      If Greenland goes up, then the shores and surrounding seabed also rise in relation to distance.

      Pressure on the magma is relieved, so the rest of the worlds ocean beds *and land masses* fall together. There'll be a delay because of mantle viscosity but it could be measured.

      Result is a net rise in sealevel as the water displaced from the depression redistributes.

      Even if sea level were to rise dramatically in one region of the world, it would still take many years or decades to flow and redistribute. This is why it is important to monitor the whole Earth with millimetre precision to see where the action is.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    80% of statistics are made up on the spot

    ... and made up statistics are as useful as real ones. Or so they say.

    "99% of climatologists" is made up on the spot, and is likely provably not true (not that I can be bothered to do this).

    Also, the fact that the rate of sea level rise has been brutally consistent since reliable tidal measurments began several centuries ago and shows no 20C acceleration has been known for a long time. Alarmists screaming something different despite the reported facts not withstanding. It is hardly bias to report this.


  13. Robert E A Harvey

    1mm a year?

    We are all doomed!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For such an IT literate and therefore intelligent readership here, there is a surprising amount of ignorance. :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "For such an IT literate and therefore intelligent readership here"

      You must be new here stranger !

    2. Kevin Johnston


      To be fair, I think you are falling into a familiar trap. IT literate people are not necessarily the same group as climatologically cogniscent people. You need to bear in mind the difference between intelligence, wisdom, and learning. No matter how intelligent a person, if they have never studied a subject in depth then they define the maxim 'a little learning is a dangerous thing'. A wise person would avoid commenting in an area they perceived as a weak subject for them.

      1. Chemist

        "No matter how intelligent a person"

        I agree entirely with that.

        I worked with an extremely intelligent chemist who could think & rationalize well outside his area of expertize but he thought computers were binary - it never crossed his mind that you could parallel the binary logic and make 8-bit,32-bit etc,. systems.He assumed it was ALL serial.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Very fair point.

        I guess I have a failure to comprehend that others don't see the world in the same way as I do, aren't as interested or don't have the time and motivation.

        I'm a programmer/sysadmin/dba for over 30 years but also have a lot of time to read everything I can related to all kinds of science, physics, chemistry, electronics, astrophysics, genetics and nature and general technology since the age of 3. To me they are all like interrelated springs and levers, magnitudes and quantities with causes and effects, and many things can be explained by concepts based on everyday metaphors. (QM not so easy!)

        However, I don't agree that a wise person should always avoid commenting in an area that they perceive as weak. It's an opportunity to gain more knowledge and wisdom, provide some input and occasionally get into a damned good scrap... :)

        Wilful ignorance, and pride in being ignorant really gets me.

        We now have the collected wisdom and knowledge of a billion brains at our fingertips, but perhaps instant knowledge has a negative effect - Why use your brain to remember stuff when you can use Google? Brains atrophy with neglect.

        What use is that knowledge without the "ungoogleable knowledge" required to process it?

        It doesn't necessarily actually educate, exercise and develop skills in critical reasoning. because It's easier to throw keywords into cerebral bins containing various stuff, than learn principles of how they relate and interact. (Comments on youtube are a particularly depressing example of education and society gone wrong!)

        Back to climate change...

        Skeptics are not denying the fact that the Earth is warming, they have seen, discussed and digested the unfolding evidence.

        Whether it is anthropogenically caused is still under debate by those unwilling to accept the strong evidence that supports it.

        There is a huge difference between skepticism and denialism, but when jumping off a cliff, gravity doesn't care.

    3. Raz

      Re: Andrew Lee Robinson

      You are right, they seem to believe that whatever a bunch of "scientists" are producing as an effect of government sponsored and self serving "research" is the holy and absolute truth!

  15. TomR

    Sea level rise is currently 3 mm/year

    It's really difficult to come by reliable sea level rise data, in the pre-satellite era, but it does seem that historic sea level rise in the 20th century (1-2 mm/year) is less than current sea level rise (rather precisely known from satellites at 3.4 mm/year).

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Green Greenland

    So then, Eric the Red was right - just a millennium ahead of time. Idea good, timing not.

    1. Armando 123

      A warmer Greenland means a return of Vikings. Ah, good times! Raping, pillaging, looting, paganism, three day mead benders, enslaving others, killing religious zealots, ... or was that when I played football at the University of Miami? My memory is pretty hazy.

  17. another_vulture

    amount of ice

    1km^^3 of ice is approximately 1 Gt, so 100 Gt of ice is about 100 km^^3 of ice. That's a 10x10 km area covered 1 km deep, or a 10 km x 10 km area covered 10 m deep, or a 100 km x 100 km area covered 10 cm deep.

    For Americans, that's the District of Columbia covered in 4" of ice.

  18. Ron 6
    Paris Hilton

    Exceeding the positional accuracy of the GPS system?

    The way I understand the enhanced GPS measurement techniques, the horizontal precision ranges from 3cm to 10cm. Altitude is less accurate than the longitude-latitude. Also the farther North you go the less precise your measurements.

    How does the report claim a 2cm change when the error on it would be 3cm (or worse)? They would be just as accurate by saying that they had a 0cm +/-3cm change.

  19. Jim Birch

    Sea level, surface response to loading and changes in ocean floor level are actually quite complex phenomena that require careful analysis and modelling.

    But fuck that, let's just go with some simplistic single factor intuitions. Viola! We're all experts. Cool.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    seems about right

    If the 100bn tons of ice that is my wife melted then yeah, greenland would rise a bit ....

  21. Dave 32


    Is this 100 billion on the short scale or the long scale?

    Isn't it awful when the same word can mean two different numbers? :-(


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