back to article Previously stable Greenland glaciers now rushing to the sea

A trio of glaciers in a vast region of northeastern Greenland previously thought to be stable are thinning and moving into the sea, forcing climate scientists to reevaluate their projections of sea-level rise upward. "We're seeing an acceleration of ice loss," study coauthor Michael Bevis of Ohio State University told USA …


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  1. poopypants

    "after more than a quarter of a century of stability."

    Sounds so much more impressive than 25 years.

    1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: "after more than a quarter of a century of stability."

      Not as impressive as El Reg insisting in article after article how the glaciers were fine on Greenland and indeed, were growing.

  2. dogged

    Doesn't look good for Somerset

    1. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Ah yes, Somerset. That county where only 3% of land experienced flooding caused by rain (not melting glaciers) and where 97% of the county remained completely unflooded.

    2. Fluffy Bunny

      Do you mean that you've forgotten the whole south of England is sinking? That will cause more flooding than these pifling glaciers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Norfolk can look forward to becoming one big Lido. I knew those webbed feet and fingers of the locals would come in handy one day...

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. ratfox

      Re: sooo.....

      Speak for yourself. I live at a high altitude.

      1. Panicnow

        Re: sooo.....

        You may live above the flood line, but most of the worlds food comes from sea-level +10m or less

        1. Fluffy Bunny

          Re: sooo.....

          But the world's oceans won't rise by 10m. There is very little time before the ice age comes, that will create a biiiig drop in the ocean levels.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: sooo.....

            "There is very little time before the ice age comes..."

            Source, please?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: sooo.....

          Really? Last I looked North America's 'bread-basket" was higher than 10m ASL, so too the Steepes, most of South America and Aus. People like to build cities by the sea, not very good for them but then cities don't grow much food, they consume it.

          The planet has gone through hot and cold cycles without the benefit of humanity four and five times respectively since the precambrian period ( We pesky humans were not around for most of the previous warming and cooling sessions... and it is pure hubris that we think we are the driving force behind the current warming trend. Humanity might in fact be the only critter in our planet's history that have evolved enough to think our way out of a mass-extinction event to survive as a species Earth will go through its cycles with or without us, as it has in the past... they might get worse, they might not, we simply need to survive them. If the super massive volcano under yellowstone park blows it's lid, or the planet gets smacked by a large asteroid all of the current effort to protect the environment will be for naught.

    2. Phil.T.Tipp

      Re: sooo.....

      Don't panic. It's only the usual Chicken Licken doom-and-bother mongers, ensuring the steady future flow of grant money and justifying their pointless existence by insisting that the sky is falling. Again.

      Meanwhile, in the realm of real, actual, ideology-free, a-political sciencey science - the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation! That's science news worth reporting.

      1. Big_Ted
        Thumb Down

        Re: sooo.....

        Did you type that with your head still buried in the sane or did you lift it out for a minute.

        1. Phil.T.Tipp

          Re: sooo.....

          My head's always buried in the sane - it's the enviro-loons who are drawn to the insane. Insane science-free-science and proto-marxist, trendy-anti, sound-bite-pop-psych, idiot ideology - for example "The science is settled", "There is scientific consensus", "to disagree is to be mentally unstable" (an old Soviet trick that one) and on, and on, ad nauseam.

          1. lambda_beta

            Re: sooo.....

            Looks like your head is up your ass. I kown, your argument is that it's not in the "good" book, so let's not get facts in the way.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sooo.....

        "the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation!"

        So someone might have enough Nigis to own a Triganic Pu very soon?

    3. Ole Juul

      Re: sooo.....

      "sooooo... basically we're f*cked?"

      You have a problem with that?

    4. Thought About IT

      Re: sooo.....

      Just a thought, but we could try reducing greenhouse gas emissions to see if that helps.

  4. James O'Shea

    Worst case

    is still under 1.2 metres by 2100. I live in Florida, max alt approx 100 m above sea level. However, I don't live near the coast; can't afford waterfront property. A lot of those who can afford to buy on Singer Island and the other barrier islands are going to be crying.

    How sad. Too bad. My heart truly bleeds for them.

    1. Adrian Midgley 1

      Re: Worst case for you...

      Nice for you. Trouble for some.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bevis & Butthead

    Bevis should ask Butthead for help.

  6. Jonathan Richards 1

    6 m

    I looked up the ice volumes in the big land-based icefields only recently. If the Greenland icecap were to melt entirely (which would take a hell of a long time), global sea levels would rise about six metres. Of course, it's not strictly necessary for all of it to melt. The same effect is achieved by sliding it off Greenland into the ocean.

    1. Eric Olson

      Re: 6 m

      Does that account for the crust rebound when all the weight of that ice disappears? Not trying to be snarky, I just know that the Great Lakes, formed by glaciers, is rebounding still thousands of years later.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: 6 m

        > Does that account for the crust rebound

        I am not a geophysicist, but I'm sure that crustal rebound takes vastly longer than the melting that triggers it. As you say, North America is still seeing the effect, and England too is still lifting in places and tilting following the last glaciation. I was just pointing out the scale of the matter: I don't expect the Greenland icecap to disappear into the ocean any time soon.

        PS: if you were to melt the Antarctic ice cap, you could add another sixty metres to sea levels. Now you're talking!

        Go for it!

    2. asdf

      Re: 6 m

      >global sea levels would rise about six metres.

      Actually its over 7m but point taken.

  7. Alan Esworthy

    local effect, global hype

    Read the paper. The authors describe the increased mobility of the glaciers under study as a local effect. In fact, nearby is another glacier where temperatures are below normal (another local effect).

    Alarmists take this local effect and scream about it being part of a global pattern when there is absolutely no support for such an assertion. Can you imagine what the well-paid warmist propaganda mill would say if anyone focused on that other, cooler, region and crowed that it was a sign that global warming was untrue?

    Move along. There really is very little to see here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: local effect, global hype

      I seem to have missed the "screaming" to which you refer.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: local effect, global hype

      Very little indeed.

    3. JeeBee

      Re: local effect, global hype

      The only well paid group of people here is the global warming/climate change deniers, funded by companies with vested interests in keeping the status quo with emissions, oil/coal use, and so on and so forth. Billions of dollars go here, and yet the science that supports them is under 1% of published papers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: local effect, global hype

        I don't think that many people "deny" that climate changes (although the term "deniers" seems to be just a way of alarm mongers trying to say that anyone who disagrees is a bad person, a bit like a holocaust denier).

        It wouldn't be unreasonable to "deny" that the globe hasn't warmed in nearly 20 years, because that's what the data seems to show. As the concentration of atmospheric CO2 has continued to increase throughout that period this ought to cast some doubt on the validity of climate models which predict catastrophic warming because of CO2.

        Also, I think that you will find that almost all of the billions of dollars are spent in supporting "Climate Change" alarm, through government research grants, green subsidies, taxes, etc. The sceptics all look pretty much shoe-string operations.

      2. Not That Andrew

        @JeeBee Re: local effect, global hype

        yet the science that supports them is under 1% of published papers.

        I assume you mean in climatology or one of its sub fields, but it would help if you enlighten us. You denialists are usually so insistent on being as specific as possible.

  8. Martin Budden Silver badge


    No model is perfect, we all know that. But as more data is identified and included, as more tweaks are made, the models get better. This new study adds a new tweak and therefore makes the models slightly more accurate, which is a good thing.

    1. Fluffy Bunny

      Re: Models

      Actually 10 times 0 is still 0. The models have never been validated against real-world conditions. Early models failed to predict the Sahara desert. I expect it's been programmed in by now, but only as a programmed artefact, not a genuine result of running the model.

      Tweak, fiddle the numbers, fudge - whatever you decide to call it, there is no science in "climate science".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Models

        @Fluffy Bunny re: "there is no science in 'climate science'."

        To quote one of your fellows, that sage of Leon Schlesinger Productions, Bugs Bunny, "What a maroon!"

        I realize, sir or madam, that such an ad hominem attack is, indeed, the lowest form of argument, and for that I apologize. Kinda. But for you to say that there is "no science in climate science" warrants a Bugsian reproach.

        Please post logical, well-though-out, well-researched, well-sourced disagreements, if you would, and not overarching ludicrousness.

        1. Phil.T.Tipp

          Re: Models

          FluffyBunny merely pointed out the very salient fact that 'climate science' simply ain't so. There is no science in evidence. It's some maths and stats and computer modelling, masquerading as science, fuelled by politics and careerism - not by ethics and the search for a deeper understanding of the nature of things.

          That search in real science comes laden with the concomitant truth that one's current understanding may well be trumped by another's research or technology - one's view of the matter at hand may well be re-informed and thus is subject to change, and in no way ever, is any science 'settled'. This 'science' of climate has extended no experiments to replicate, no theories to test, no results of any new scientific value added to the pantheon whatsoever.

          Also, real science has no call to self-validate, it just is. Climate 'science' just can't put the megaphone down for two minutes, as we'll all forget they ever existed if they do so. Their models are broken, the results fudged and lied about, their aspirations are purely political and self-serving.

          1. Rich 11

            Re: Models

            Their models are broken, the results fudged and lied about, their aspirations are purely political and self-serving.

            Oh no, it's a conspiracy!

            Bored now.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Models

              No not a conspiracy, more individuals and organisations acting in their own interest.

              By example I offer a quote from the project leader on a job I once worked on:

              "This is the Critical Design Review, to find out if there are any show stoppers...

              so we'd better not find any or the show might stop"

          2. oldcoder

            Re: Models

            Real science ALWAYS validate. Thats how you make sure it is correct. And when incorrect, REVALIDATE.

            Without validation it is just... religion.

            1. Phil.T.Tipp

              Re: Models

              Yep, validate one's results - not validate one's opinion of self or one's own belief system.

          3. strum

            Re: Models

            >FluffyBunny merely pointed out the very salient fact that 'climate science' simply ain't so.

            And you and he have amply demonstrated that neither of you have a clue about how science works.

            The whole of science is a model, constructed from hypothesis, compared with empirical observations. The climate change models are still improving, but they're light years ahead of the denialists' efforts.

            1. Tom 38

              Re: Models

              strum, science is a model constructed from scientific hypotheses. What is the difference between climate change hypotheses and scientific hypotheses? A scientific hypothesis can be tested.

              Climate science produces models that describe what happened in the past in order to generate current measurements. The model takes historical data, and churns out the right number for today - hurrah!

              We then look at the future predictions of that model and turn it into policy and taxes, but at no point is that model tested - it fits the old data, and it is right now, and that is good enough seemingly for most people.

              It also seems that when you have new historical data that then doesn't fit the existing model, or changes the model forecast, then the implication is that the model is wrong, and it is tweaked until it gives the forecasts that are desired.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Beware of rounding errors

        In stellar and solar system modelling, we found a lot of "errors" showing up with recent moves to 64-bit systems were due to recurrent use of rounded results as input to the next stage of a series of looped calculations (a big no-no, if you think about it).

        It turned out the 32-bit systems were giving errors too, but because there was nothing to compare them against, they were assumed correct - despite most modelling systems having solar systems flying apart after a few tens of millions of years, emperical evidence that ours is at least 4 billion years old notwithstanding.

        As a result of investigating why we were getting "wrong" answers, we discovered systemic faults in the way things were being done. Backtracking and rerunning a bunch of older stuff resulted in solar systems taking _much_ longer to fly apart - a few hundred million years, still not billions. There's still something off down at the umpty-nth decimal place.

        Good scientists work out why things are wrong. Bad ones dump in a fudge factor and say "we'll get back to that later". The problem is that most scientists are utterly shit at computing but not quite experienced enough in the field to realise it. (It amazes me that some people manage to get anything done at all, given the rotten code they turn out.)

        (FWIW there's still an urban legend that 64-bit systems give different results to 32-bit systems for the same code. The answer is "Yes, if your code is badly written and riddled with schoolboy errors")

  9. ReduceGHGs

    Get Active!

    Human-caused climate change is real and it is hazardous to long-term habitability of the earth. These are facts. Read what the experts have been saying for years.

    So what are we doing about it? What are YOU doing about it? Apathy/inaction effectively advocates more of the same destructive behaviors. For those of us that can think critically and are informed we know that we can and MUST do better. So join the efforts. Get involved. Don't be someone that just goes with the flow. Swim!


    1. Phil.T.Tipp

      Re: Get Active!

      lol, trolly troll is obvious. Get away with ye.

  10. cd

    A bit early to buy ?

  11. MondoMan

    Regarding the models

    If these are the current models, they don't yet include physically accurate modeling of clouds (they parametrize them, but the real-life parameter values are still unknown), and didn't predict the recent loss of ice cover in the Arctic and the increase in ice cover in the Antarctic. I'm not sure I'd yet want to rely on them for predictions about the year 2100.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope it is simply the case that there is an army of simple loons that invade the reg on any climate article, otherwise this outpouring of moron-juice is a sad reflection on the readership.

    Generally tech people I know are empirical, logical thinkers and will investigate things and make their own mind. The swarm of cut and pasted responses that hit every climate article are quite out of character for my rose tinted view of the audience here (but then I try and avoid Apple/MS comments)

    1. AceRimmer

      Generally tech people I know are empirical, logical thinkers and will investigate things and make their own mind

      I can only presume that you don't frequent these comment boards

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't Panic!

    Ice flows like pitch. Snow builds up and it gets thicker then the ice flows and it gets thinner more snow falls and it gets thicker...Remember the Vikings once farmed in Greenland. That's how it got its name.

    1. Paul Leigh

      Re: Don't Panic!

      I guess you've fallen for the same spin that the Icelanders did when following Eric the Red to the "Green" land ~1000 year ago.

  14. hoola Silver badge

    Right or Wrong......

    The real problem is that (if??), the time the nay-sayers/denyers and its not my problem groups are proved wrong it will be far too late.

    With all these global issues there has to come a point where it is better to do something than sit with your hands over your ears shouting "Yadda, yadda yadda" like a 2 year old. Most of the scientific modelling is just that as this is not somehting you can actually verify until it is too late, but unfortunately there are far too many vested interests from big corporations and governemnts that are funded by them.

    Cleaning up the atmosphere, reducing energy use and using renewables or carbon neutral simply has to be better. All developed economies have been built on the ideal of cheap energy and no responsibility. Will this happen? No mankind is simply too greedy and the corporations are too big, only looking at the short term profits.

    When New York, London, Rotterdam or somewhere like that finally ends up underwater then those in power will doo something. Trouble is all the science is telling us that by then the environment will not be able to be recovered in the timescale needed.

    1. Phil.T.Tipp

      Re: Right or Wrong......

      Don't panic. The earth's mind-bogglingly clever and complicatedly humungous weather, bio and climate system will do what it has always done, and keep things, well, more or less the same. Chin up and carry on.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Right or Wrong......


        Complicated is correct.

        Long term, this planet will absolutely survive any human effects short of us somehow managing to mess-up geothermal processes.

        The question really comes in what will happen short-term.

        Sure, the planet may well be stable over the next 500,000 years but that doesn't mean it won't fluctuate in between - say in the next few hundred years. In geological scales, such timeframes are less than a blip but they can be pretty important to a single species.

        None of that is to say that AGW is a hard fact or that people won't be 'more or less' fine. I simply mean to point out the flaw in the implication that just because the planet might be long-term stable, there is no cause for concern about our near future.

  15. Tony Rogers

    On-going Research

    I have spent over 50 years research in the problem of melting ice and the resultant effects on rising levels.

    Using basic laborarory equipment ie a graduated tumbler and a clipboard and pen.

    My test fluids are both London and Plymouth Gin with the added use of ice cubes and lemon slices

    together with a good supply of tonic water.

    A good measure of the fluids is poured and ice cubes added until the meniscus is as far up the tumbler as it is possible.

    Like most experiments, time is of the greatest importance.

    As I wait, the meniscus falls lower and lower due to the melting of the ice.

    I have never managed to achieve the results forcast by other scientists which seem to involve the rise of

    the level...only the reduction. Try this experiment yourselves.

    At the end of a hard day in the laboratory I need to go to the pub for a "stiff one"!

    I will retire soon and although I will continue working from home, a new younger scientist

    will be required to continue the good work. CV.s welcome.

    1. strum

      Re: On-going Research

      This one small region is adding 10 gigatonnes per annum. An adjacent region is adding 30. Put that in your gin.

    2. Hans 1

      Re: On-going Research

      Something is fishy, it should not change with the ice melting. Maybe alcohol is evaporating ? I would not have the patience and drink some while it was fresh ;-)

      Take a measuring beaker from the miss .... put four icecubes in it and pour water until the WATER-level is a pint, leave for an hour or so result: the same volume of water, no ice cubes.

      Now, what scientists claim is this:

      Fill the beaker up to 1 pint, put 4 icecubes in it - there, you have the sea level rise already. They are talking about ice from mainland/islands falling into the sea, like Greenland ice, here.

      Others claim that the heat will evaporate more sea water, so sea water will stay the same, we simply have more frequent/stronger rains .... probably what happened in Brittany earlier this year, I do not know ...

    3. Ben Bonsall

      Re: On-going Research

      a cube of floating ice displaces the same volume of water as the water that made up the ice. so as it melts, the level shouldn't change. If it dropped, it was probably due to it (and the researcher) ending up drunk.

      Try the same experiment, only support the ice on matchsticks above the glass... the glass soon overflows. (assuming of course, that nothing ends up drunk.)

      Out-gassing of dissolved co2 in the tonic would also cause a small decreasing in volume...

    4. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: On-going Research

      Ah, Tony. All that gin has clouded your judgement for experimental design. What you need is an island, surrounded by a lake of gin and tonic, with glaciers of potable ice flowing into it. Now, you don't want to retire if *that* setup gets funding, do you? (Though we'll have to allow for the effects of lab. staff dipping pints of G&T out of the lake. We certainly don't want them replacing the volume by the obvious means...!)

  16. FelixReg


    A ton of water is a cubic meter. So 20 gigatons would a line of 20 billion such cubes of water. Or, in one, big cube, the 3rd root of 20,000,000,000, 2714 meters on each side. A cubic mile or two. That's a lot to drink, but adding it to the Earth's oceans would be like adding a rain drop to a small lake.

  17. Hans 1

    I do not know what is causing GW or CC (whatever we call it this week) but I do know that half the cities and quite a few villages in Brittany had 3 to 6 feet water in their gardens/houses for over two months during the December/January/February months ... I also know that Atlantic beaches in south western France have lost a whopping 200 yards of beach in that same time frame (e.g. Lacanau).

    Not sure what is happening because there seem to be two teams competing for attention around the South Pole and a few others around Greenland with contradicting claims and conclusions.

    The only facts I have is that Lacanau beach is no more (sort of); new stairs will have to be built before the tourists come this summer and Arcachon has also been hit hard. Brittany is drying up. These events have never happened to this extent before - they have had floods, but never even half that long.

    I guess we will see in the coming years ...

  18. Stevie


    If all the Greenland ice melts and the land gets exposed to the sun, what happens to the Atlantic Gyre and how fast?

    1. Ilmarinen

      Re: Bah!

      Maybe it gimbles in the wabe? Dunno how quick though.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re On-going Research

    I'm guessing this was meant as a joke but the stupidity involved in this argument is staggering.

    If you had actually read and understood the article you would understand that it was not about glaciers already in the water melting, but glaciers on land sliding in to the water.

    So is not like ice cube already in water which has already caused water displacement and hence not mattering if it melts. Rather is like taking glass of water without ice in it, then adding the ice and seeing if it rises after the ice is added. I'm sure your 50 years of research will confirm that in this case it does indeed rise.

    It is the ice on land going in to the sea that they are claiming will cause sea levels to rise. Consider that those claiming this will happen have done research and calculations to back their claims, while those denying it use blatantly fallacious arguments without actual evidence to counter it. (Assuming they actually have an argument and don't just assert it is not true or claim it is conspiracy.) Then it should be obvious which position should be taken more seriously.

  20. Potemkine Silver badge

    Did Mr. Lewis see that?

    Discussions must be interesting among El Reg's editors :^^

  21. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Glaciers may move faster

    Bif if they're thinner then the same volume (or less) may end up moving past any given point.

    The time to worry is when they stay thick AND move fast.

    What counts for icecap glaciers is what's feeding the glacier (choke points such as ridges/valleys come into play, just as they did at Pine Island) and what's going into the ice stream at that point. Warm seawater under the glacier is only an issue if it reaches the icecap and that's not going to happen soon with the glaciers in question.

    WRT 30GT being a drop in a bucket - it is, but if you've seen how fast a bucket can fill up in a rainstorm you can appreciate all those drops add up.

    _Local_ effects might need some thinnking about, such as what might momentarily happen to the gulf stream if a pulse of freshwater enters the northeast atlantic. Having that diverted south a few degrees would be bad for northwestern europe.

  22. cylon

    is it just me?

    picture the earth as a drinking glass. now fill it with ice cubes. then poor water into the glass to fill the remaining spaces between the ice cubes....NOW let the glass filled with the ice cubes and water sit for awhile, whilst you go have a coffee or something. when you return an hour or so later you will find the ice has melted. but the water and melted ice HAVE NOT RUN OVER the lip of the glass.

    It seems these quacks are telling me that the earth is somehow not in balance? (water in liquid and solid)

    maybe the quacks are saying we have alien ice cubes that were somehow added into in the drinking glass called earth after it was completed in forming?

    oh wait! theres great revenue potential in carbon credits... that's why they are selling us this *%#@$!

  23. Demongo

    Scientific consensus vs. The Reg

    Funny how The Reg will usually post one-off reports from climate skeptics, but seemingly ignore the consensus.

    Here's Powell's examination of scientific consensus, with methodology:

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