back to article Greenland melt threshold lower than thought

Spanish and German scientists have have alarmed the international environmental community with modeling suggesting that Greenland’s ice sheets could disappear at lower temperatures than previously thought. The study was conducted by Spain’s Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research …


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  1. Curly4

    destroying the climate change doubters

    With the melting of the ice caps accompanied with a rise of the oceans when the costs start being flooded and hundreds of thousands of people world wide being killed then the doubters will, maybe, be finally come to see the problem. Then maybe they will be willing to have that carbon tax and much higher taxes on coal and petroleum. They might also see the need for electric cars even if they cost many times what the others do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: destroying the climate change doubters

      It is a pity all of these effects are only happening in the virtual world of the computer model and not the real world that we all live in.

      In the real world there is a modest rise in temperature since the LIA, the sea levels are rising at the same rate they have been for thousands of years (1 to 1.5mm per year) , and the glaciers in Greenland are retreating to where they where in about 1350AD (according to peer reviewed papers).

      1. Jeebus

        Re: destroying the climate change doubters

        Which peer reviewed papers in particular are you referring?

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: destroying the climate change doubters

          Since when does recorded history (as opposed to digital fantasy) require peer review?

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge


          Take any archeological journal which publishes papers on the viking settlements digs in Greenland. Read. Rinse. Repeat.

          During the late middle ages (800-1200) the names in the North Atlantic matched the scenery - Greenland was green (on the coast), Iceland was ice. That is proven many times by a science which is considerably more exact than climate modeling - archeology.

          If we add the historical data from the same period - multiple recorded incidents of freezing of Black Sea, Bosphorus, Mare Marmaris, North Adriatic, Bay of Venice and Bay of Marceiles (sometimes in consecutive years) you get a pretty convincing picture of a weakened Gulfstream.

          That is exactly where we are heading by the way. That is also scientifically proven, no modeling required - last 20 years of temperature, salinity and flow measurements by all European research institutions involved show that.

          So, if you live in Europe - screw the greens, electric cars and their bretheren - buy an diesel 4x4 _WITH_ an engine preheater (or install an aftermarket one). Before any green opens his peephole - go and ask Nissan, Renault, etc exactly how much does the battery on the Leaf or its Renault bretheren last at -25C (answer - 20 miles on a very good day with the heating in the cockpit _OFF_).

          If you live in USA - buy an air conditioner and if your property is somewhere low - change for somewhere higher.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            It's scary to think there's a "science" less exact than archeology!

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Scary

              You are mistaking history and archeology.

              History is written by victors :)

              Modern Archeology is pretty scientific. It is definitely more scientific than a lot of the climate models floating around. Analytical methods including various forms of radioactive dating, trace element analysis and DNA analysis, etc allow you to pin human, animal and plant remains down to +/- 50 years as well as tell you where they grew up, did they originate from the area, were they brought in and so on. It is applied analytical chemistry, applied molecular biology and even techniques from criminology thrown in.

              Coming back to Greenland - the digs show reasonably successful colonies (I agree with the sentiment that calling them thriving is PR by Eric the Red) up to around 1100AD and after that it quickly goes downhill over the course of just a few generations. There is published comparison data including disease prevalence and average age in the population and how it changed when the warm (in North American and Greenland) period ended.

              Coming back to Europe and USA - during the same period parts of Texas that are now desert were humid and wet with a fairly advanced (by pre-Columbus standards) civilisation - the Pueblo Indians. If the Gulfstream weakens the Humboldt should weaken too leading to that. So that is not particularly surprising.

              During the same period in Europe vikings migrated southward. Do you think that they went down to Normandy or down the Russian rivers to the Black Sea just because they loved to see the world? B***cks. They were freezing to death and had nothing to eat in northern Scandinavia during the same period.

              So if we are running into the same phenomenon (regardless of is it anthropogenic or natural) would not want to be with a car which is not winter-ready to the hilt in Europe and without a boat in the USA :)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @jeebus

          > Which peer reviewed papers in particular are you referring?

          "Abrupt onset of the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanism and sustained by sea-ice/ocean feedbacks" Miller et al GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, doi:10.1029/2011GL050168

          They radio carbon dated dead plant materials from receding glaciers and found kill dates from between 1275 and 1300 which shows the glaciers were not there at those dates. There are numerous other papers that show the same thing, the one cited above is simply the latest.

      2. Graham Bartlett

        Re: destroying the climate change doubters

        So you'll only be happy when it actually *has* happened? Good plan...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: destroying the climate change doubters

        Is it just me?

        The alarmists have had a "best estimate" that they have been assuring us is accurate enough to try and scare everyone into stopping the advance of civilisation.

        Now they are saying that the old, bad, legacy "best estimate" on which their alarm has hitherto been based, is in fact out by a factor of 2, but that the new "best estimate" is in fact accurate and not at all like the old, bad, legacy best estimate, and can be used to scare everyone even more into stopping the advance of civilisation.

        Can't wait for the next revision. WHat will it be, up or down? Whatever it is, you can rest assured it will "prove" mmgw.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge

          Re: destroying the climate change doubters

          "out by a factor of 2"

          Wrong - temperature measures in Celcius or Fahrenheit are for human convenience, temperature as a measure of amount of energy should be in Kelvin. So revising the estimate from 3.2C to 1.6C is not, in effect, a factor of 2 but a revision from 276.2K to 274.6K, which is about half a percentage point.

          Of course the usual caveats apply that it's 'only' a model that does not represent reality 100%, that of course does not mean that is has absolutely no relevance either.

          1. Goobertee

            @James Micallef Re: destroying the climate change doubters

            Yes, the change being discussed is only a half a percent of the temperature above absolute zero, but that isn't the starting point of the change. The quantity of the change from the present mean temperature that is anticipated to cause the phenomenon has been cut in half. If I now pay 30p for something that cost 60p before (dream of that), that is cutting the price in half, regardless whether I have 60p in my pocket or I'm weighed down with currency of the realm.

            If we assume the existence of a "present rate of warming," this means that at this "present rate," we have half as long for the melting to occur. The existence of warming and a "present rate of warming" is one of the questions being debated, of course, but the point that it's half as much change as previously believed is the relevant point.

            One wonders whether the heat of the debate is a factor in global warming.

        2. Hooksie

          Re: destroying the climate change doubters

          Yeah, what he said!! Interesting how just a few weeks after some very quiet news about how the temperature increases measured don't match the models and the down-revising of estimates of temperature increase we now get told "ah, but even though the temperature won't rise by as much it turns out that the water will melt quicker so we're still fucked"

          Load of old tosh. I used to be totally on the band-wagon with this but the more nonsense studies and articles come out the more uncertain I am. I don't doubt that we humans have an adverse affect on our environment and we are, as they suggested in The Matrix, a virus with shoes. But we are also capable of making the world a better place for ourselves and our children and the rest of the species on the Earth that deserve to be here just as much as we do.

          So here's an idea. Cut all fuel duty to a reasonable level, let people drive more if they want and use the increased tax (people would use more therefore increased tax) to fund moving to a hydrogen economy with a sustainable hydrogen production model and let's do it, not because of some possible future but because it's a better way to use the finite resources on the Earth.

          p.s. anyone see that documentary the other day with Iain Stewart that talked about the Ice Age frequency being linked with the orbit of the Earth and other studies suggesting we're "due an Ice Age". Maybe "Global Warming" will turn out, ironically, to be the thing that saves our species from utter extinction :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      won't be long

      Before the climate change deniers come out of the woodwork.

      I hope they continue to think happy thoughts when their houses disappear under water.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: won't be long

        Well when my house at 132 ft above sea level is flooded then indeed I will think happy thoughts. Thanks - mostly I'll be thinking well thats all the loony doom sayers drowned and gone.

        Unfortunately that apocalyptic scenario is completely unlikely as I believe it was the IPCC only recently said the max sea level rise has been grossly itself probably.

        Enjoy this link.

        Four whole inches in a 100 years. Wow...better get my waders out...oh wait both I and you will be dead by then.. Big Fat Hairy Deal!

        Memo to Tarawa....BUILD a WALL ..start now. Four inches shouldn't take you long at it's good for a 100 years.

    3. Charles Manning

      Re: destroying the climate change doubters

      Unfortunately taxes don't stop, or even reduce, the consumption of carbon products. All they do is drive up prices and mitigate against guilty feelings.

      Pretty much the same applies to EV. They just emit in a different place and if the electricity comes from oil/coal the carbon reduction is only a few %.\

      Neither of these actually makes sufficient difference to be worthy of mention.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: destroying the climate change doubters

      Electric cars will surely solve the problem, especially when charged with power from coal plants and such. Moreover, how much energy gets wasted on production of battery packs used in electric cars, as well as their recycling once they get scrapped?

      Now go ahead and downvote me. Hypocrites.

      1. scarshapedstar

        Re: destroying the climate change doubters

        "Moreover, how much energy gets wasted on production of battery packs used in electric cars, as well as their recycling once they get scrapped?"

        Ten skillion terawatts, obviously. After all, internal combustion engines grow on trees, and oil extracts and refines and transports and pumps itself.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: destroying the climate change doubters

          I didn't expect any better answer from you ecomentalists. After all, you are mostly driven by anger and fear, and as such have grave issues with rational, logical thinking.

          My whole point was that electric cars don't and won't reduce the need for fossil fuels at all - they merely provide their owners with convenience of shifting the place where the problem takes place elsewhere, away from their sight. People who drive them are hypocrites, much in the same way as so-called "vegans" who spend their days calling their peers murderers for eating meat but have no issues with wearing leather shoes, or much more importantly, using medicines and medical procedures tested on animals.

      2. scarshapedstar

        Re: destroying the climate change doubters

        Also, does anyone else ever get the feeling that, someday, even when we're all cruising around on fusion-powered hoverboards, the Cult of Fuck You Hippies will be doggedly digging things out of the ground to set on fire out of spite?

    5. Keep Refrigerated

      Re: destroying the climate change doubters

      Let me guess? you read the title and hit the comments without reading the rest of the article.

  2. tkioz

    While personally I don't doubt man-made climate change, I personally think the greenies are going about how to fight it all wrong, instead of wanting taxes and reduced emissions, they should be demanding companies invest in technology to contain and reduce the effects of climate change.

    Let us burn all the crap we want, our civilisation relies on it, but at the same time big companies that make profits in the tens of billions should be forced to put a few of those billions into research on how to undo the damage, things like carbon absorbent algae.

  3. Ole Juul

    eBay here I come

    Maybe it's time to grab some chunks of Greenland ice as souvenirs. Here's your chance to own a piece of history.

  4. General Pance

    I agree with the environmentalists. The only way to prevent the catastrophic temperature rise is to immediately abate C02 production. And the only way to do this with any chance of being effective is to cull at least 80% of the excess humans on the planet.

    The hard part is deciding which to get rid of first. Who contributes least? Who do we continue having to prop up? Let's round them up, and gas the lot of them.

    That's what you're getting at isn't it?

    1. JohnMurray


      That's easy: You cull the greens.

      No productivity, no originality, no humour and no sense. Plus, they are profligate liars (and now, if not always, fraudsters)

      But then, that has always been their intention. Not save the globe, but exterminate the humans.

      1. Nick Collingridge

        Re: Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

        Great solution - "exterminate" those who say things you don't like. You may not change the truth, but if there's no-one left to speak it you then you can all just go an as usual, pretending that all is well.

        What a brilliant idea. Get your gas chambers out now! It'll be worth it when you've cleansed the world of people who say things you don't like to hear.

      2. General Pance
        Thumb Up

        Re: Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

        Or the exact opposite.

        I've been studying the works of a German social engineer from the mid Twentieth Century - a forward thinking, yet deeply misunderstood vegetarian - who asserted that humankind should isolate genetic markers favourable to its survival and carry only those forward.

        The genetic marker he had in mind is in fact the same gene common to 99% of the Green intellectual movement, one that manifests itself in a lighter shade of skin tone.

        If were to simply weed out those who don't carry this Green intellectual gene - some 80% of the world's population - we would immediately solve the biggest crisis facing the human race, the overproduction of CO2.

        I believe this could be the Final Solution.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

          "I've been studying the works of a German social engineer from the mid Twentieth Century - a forward thinking, yet deeply misunderstood vegetarian - who asserted that humankind should isolate genetic markers favourable to its survival and carry only those forward."

          And I think you are pulling the leg of some people who have suffered a humor bypass.

          But on a more serious note that would certainly be a "hard green" agenda.

        2. bep

          Re: Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

          Hitler wasn't a vegetarian. All the problems in the world are not caused by vegetarians. In fact, many of the world's problems have been created by people who just love their red meat. So please move on.

          1. howard bowen

            Re: Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

            Your right bep Hitler wasn't a vegetarian ....only that he didn't knowingly eat meat.

            His physician Dr Morrell fed him vitamin tablets but made notes that the Fuhrer wasn't to be told they were made from Animal byproducts.

            Vegetarianism was common amongst WW1 veterans who for some odd reason seemed to have become averse to blood etc. Can't think why.

  5. ratfox

    If this keeps going on...

    Canada may one day become inhabitable!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If this keeps going on...

      Don't know if it helps but all the Canadian women I've met have been smoking hot and blessed with filthy disgusting and imaginative minds....and they liked hockey.

      Gee I think I may move there........

      Cold Weather Coat please.....

  6. Spud2go

    Over it.

    Thats all

  7. JohnMurray


    would be the same models that, run backwards, get the past climate totally wrong ?

    And run forwards do the same ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: These....

      You don't run models backwards, they're not designed to run backwards. You can run them forward from a historic point and then they work to a degree. There are limitations on models - they are models after all - the people making them are constantly adding new functionality to make them more accurate.

      The question is - should we bother to understand our planet using models or not bother because it's a bit hard?

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: These....

        Yep. The map is not the territory, but I find maps quite useful even when they do not represent the terrain with 100% accuracy.

  8. ChrisM

    Well this highlights.....

    The fact that we still don't know enough about the inputs to draw definitive conclusions.

    More research please on both the reasons for and especially ways to mitigate the effects of the changing climate. And full disclosure of data and no patents, this stuff is too important for ego and profit thanks

  9. Semaj

    2,000 years

    If we are still around by that time it really won't matter.

    However, the zombies will have come way before then. (We need a zombie icon)

    1. Keep Refrigerated
      Thumb Up

      Re: Zombie Icon


    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: 2,000 years

      "If we are still around by that time it really won't matter."

      This may come as a surprise but (collectively) the human race *has* been around that long already.

  10. crosspatch

    Thing is ... it was about 2C warmer than today for thousands of years earlier on the Holocene and Greenland didn't melt. It was 5C warmer than today during the previous interglacial and there is no evidence Greenland melted then, either. And every species alive today survived those periods.

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray

      "It was 5C warmer than today during the previous interglacial and there is no evidence Greenland melted then, either."

      I thought the spread of plant life on Greenland was notably different in previous warm spells with larger trees than grow at present and more accessible vegetation.

  11. crosspatch

    Nobody doubts "climate change" because climate changes all the time. The only time we have had any significant period of stability was about 10,000 years ago.

    The issue is if humans cause any instability and so far the answer is "not that we can determine with certainty". 1910 to 1940 saw the same amount of temperature rise as 1970 to 2000 as we continue to recover from the Little Ice Age.

  12. Bodhi

    Wasn;t Greenland called Greenland as when it was discovered it was, er, Green? As in no ice?

    1. Tom 38

      No, it was called Greenland in an early 10th Century attempt at PR by Erik the Red. Having discovered and spent a couple of years on Greenland, he sailed back to Iceland to find people to go and colonize it. He felt the name Grønland would encourage more people to go settle there.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Sure, I expect that even in the time of Eric the Red, Greenland was still a tough place to live in and did not have Mediterranean weather, so maybe Mr Red exaggerated to his fellow vikings the advantages of living in Greenland. Nevertheless, they DID live in Greenland for a while, and archaelogical studies have found plenty of remains that indicate human habitation in places that have now been frozen for centuries.

        Just because Eric the Red embellished his stories a little doesn't mean Greenland hasn't been warmer in the past than it is today

        1. Tom 38

          No, absolutely

          Especially given that the settlements founded by Eric the Red were abandoned in the 1500s when climate change forced them off - just like it did to similar Viking settlements all over (eg in the Outer Hebrides).

          However he *was* a big fibber - Greenland was mainly ice bound - and the worlds first PR man.

      2. Keep Refrigerated

        Re: Charming, up and coming Plateau

        So what you're basically saying is Eric the Red was the worlds first estate agent?

  13. Peter Dawe


    If the Climate does result in the need for culls, the computer record (of this site) will show who were deniers. I'm sure they will be held culpable!

    If there is no problem, then no cull.

    So keep denying! We know who you are!

    1. ChrisM

      Re: Culls

      Obvious troll is obvious....

      If not a troll... i despair

  14. Anonymous Coward

    All I want to know.

    Is how this will affect my Skiing and Summer holidays...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All I want to know.

      I guess they'll still be the same:

      Take Lift


      Bitch about Windows Phone 7 to anyone who'll listen

      Take lift


      Tell everyone how great Android and Google are


  15. Jeebus

    Any chance of anyone posting those peer reviewed papers on this subject from the deniers camp?

    Or are they just going to hide behind anonymous posts and downvoting when asked for facts. Like 100% of the times they have had information requested before.

  16. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "thousands of people will die"

    Even in the worst case scenarios there's plenty of time to move away from a very slowly moving shoreline.

    Unless you're one of King Canute's sycophants.

    Just because XYZ city has been where it is for a couple of hundred years doesn't mean that new builds won't take place on higher ground over time.

    Claims about climate-change induced storms killing more people are a similar load of bunkum. There's plenty of time to prepare for (marginally) worse weather, but people (and govts) just can't be bothered until disaster is biting them on the ankles - inexcusable given the warning systems now in place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "thousands of people will die"

      While I do agree that we need to do something, you just need to look at tropical low lying islands for an example of where you can't move away from the coast. Also look at cities like New Orleans where the storm and floods killed thousands and I'm not suggesting that the NO floods were climate change related, but there are only going to be more extreme weather events and these do kill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "thousands of people will die"

        Katrina, being a category 3, wasn't an abnormally strong storm. People died because of unorganized evacuation- partly because the mayor didn't call an evacuation sooner-, living below sea level, and having levees break. They had it coming.

        A tornado that travels through a trailer park isn't categorically stronger than the same tornado traveling through a military bunker complex.

    2. bep

      Re: "thousands of people will die"

      So what you'd like us to do is to take a huge punt that climate change will create more habitable land than it will destroy? Meanwhile you're also hoping that the (generally) warmer seas will also continue to support life, notwithstanding all the evidence that over-fishing is drastically reducing existing fish stocks. All this in a time of significant global population growth. Remind me not to go to Las Vegas with you.

  17. Marek

    Peer review


    and MWP in Europe...

  18. David Hicklin Bronze badge

    2000 Years ?

    But have any of these 'models' factored in the end of Oil and Gas that will occur long before then? That should cut CO2 emissions by a heck of a lot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2000 Years ?

      Err. No, why would they?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the American War Machine (in last 12 years)

    had spent it's money (est between $700bn and $2tn) on researching alternatives to oil / coal we'd probably be entering a period of human history that would be regarded as the most enlightened ever.

    I don't subscribe the climate doom monger theory but we humans spend far too much money on war

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Sorry folks but narrowing the error bands works *both* ways.

    So thumbs up for tightening up the models and reducing the uncertainty.

    Proper science is about getting to the *truth*, even when the results make life more difficult.

    I'll note that Greenland is still 1/20 of the Earths fresh water or about 3.25m if it all goes.

    Another reason to keep the champagne for the "We dodged the AGW bullet" party on ice for the time being.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They never calculate this stuff right.

    1. As the ice melts, the flowing water erodes it quicker.

    2. As the ice melts, the oceanic currents are altered.

    3. As the ice melts and the oceanic currents are changed, the air currents change as well

    4. As the ice melts, the solid matter is now liquid and subject to the tugging and pulling of the Moon.

    5. As the moon tugs and pulls on the earth more and in different ways, it speeds up the ice melting.

    They always forget the moon.

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I seem to have acquired a down voting tick.

    It seems no subject I've posted on has proved too obscure for them to down vote.

    Rather than look through every post I've made and down voting perhaps they could just choose one and *reply* to it. They might have a point and I might agree with it.

    Given the AC option exists you'd have to be pretty cowardly to not engage at *all*.

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