the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Gotta Be Kidding

Posted by Jeff Id on April 16, 2012

In an article titled, “Himalayan glaciers actually GAINING ice, space scans show An inconvenient truth” Lewis Page of the Register writes:

The study was carried out by comparing two sets of space data, the first gathered by instruments aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000 and the second by the French SPOT5 satellite in 2008. The results were unequivocal. Across the targeted 5,615km2 region of the Karakorum mountains lying on the Chinese border with India and Pakistan, the glaciers had gained substantial amounts of mass by the time the second survey was carried out. Satellite pictures had previously shown the glaciers there spreading to cover more area, but some climate scientists had argued that they might nonetheless be losing ice by becoming thinner: this has now been disproven.

 “This is a solid, high-grade measurement,” glaciologist Graham Cogley commented, reviewing the paper published in Nature Geoscience. The study was led by Julie Gardelle of Grenoble uni in France.

Slight mass gain of Karakoram glaciers in the early twenty-first century

Assessments of the state of health of Hindu-Kush–Karakoram–Himalaya glaciers and their contribution to regional hydrology and global sea-level rise suffer from a severe lack of observations1. The globally averaged mass balance of glaciers and ice caps is negative1, 2, 3. An anomalous gain of mass has been suggested for the Karakoram glaciers2, 4, 5, 6, but was not confirmed by recent estimates of mass balance. Furthermore, numerous glacier surges in the region that lead to changes in glacier length and velocity7, 8, 9, 10, 11 complicate the interpretation of the available observations. Here, we calculate the regional mass balance of glaciers in the central Karakoram between 1999 and 2008, based on the difference between two digital elevation models. We find a highly heterogeneous spatial pattern of changes in glacier elevation, which shows that ice thinning and ablation at high rates can occur on debris-covered glacier tongues. The regional mass balance is just positive at +0.11±0.22 m yr−1 water equivalent and in agreement with the observed reduction of river runoff that originates in this area12. Our measurements confirm an anomalous mass balance in the Karakoram region and indicate that the contribution of Karakoram glaciers to sea-level rise was −0.01 mm yr−1 for the period from 1999 to 2008, 0.05 mm yr−1 lower than suggested before13.

Lower than ‘suggested’ before.   I suppose that in newspeak, suggested is a euphemism for ‘screamed from the highest mountain’.   I have a hard time keeping up with the kids new slang these days.

 

17 Responses to “Gotta Be Kidding”

  1. dfbaskwill said

    They must come from the Jay Carney School of Truth Telling. Up is down, red is blue, and, as always, CO2 is poison!

  2. Jeremy said

    It’s nature, which means it’s lies.

  3. toto said

    Dfbaskwill: you’re talking about the Register reporters, right?

    The “Himalayan glaciers” (whichever definition you use) are actually losing mass. This is acknowledged in the actual abstract of the paper. The mass gain is restricted to the Karakoram region – as was already mentioned in good old IPCC AR4.

    In other words, this new paper is a confirmation of the dreaded “consensus” (shudder!)

    I suppose that in newspeak, suggested is a euphemism for ‘screamed from the highest mountain’.

    Er… who was “screaming” that Karakoram was losing mass?

    • Karakoram glaciers to sea-level rise was −0.01 mm yr−1 for the period from 1999 to 2008, 0.05 mm yr−1 lower than suggested before13

      • Nick Stokes said

        OK, a new estimate. Happens all the time. But is it a significant difference? I can’t tell.

        Toto’s AR4 link says:
        “In some regions, moderately increased accumulation observed in recent decades is consistent with changes in atmospheric circulation and associated increases in winter precipitation (e.g., southwestern Norway, parts of coastal Alaska, Patagonia, Karakoram, and Fjordland of the South Island of New Zealand)”

        Doesn’t sound like this new observation is so surprising.

      • papiertigre said

        I wonder though, if the good old IPCC AR4 recognized that Karakoram glaciers were expanding for all these years, why is an adjustment to their estimated sea level rise necessary?

      • Nick Stokes said

        It’s not an IPCC estimate – it’s Church et al 2011. And it’s not sea level rise; it’s an estimate of the contribution of K glaciers to SL. Scientists coming up with different estimates – not unusual. I can’t tell whether it is a big difference – can you?

        • papiertigre said

          Global sea level rise over the 20th century is discussed in Section 5.5; the best estimate is 0.17 ± 0.05 m. From estimates of observed sea level rise from 1950 to 2000 by Church et al. (2004), the rise in the Caribbean appeared to be near the global mean. Church et al. (2006) also estimate the average rise in the region of the Indian and Pacific Ocean to be close to the global average. There have been large observed variations in sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean mainly due to ocean circulation changes associated with ENSO events. From 1993 to 2001, all the data show large rates of sea level rise over the western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean and sea level falls in the eastern Pacific and western Indian Ocean (Church et al., 2006).

          http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch5s5-5.html

          I see Church’s name all over AR4’s sea level rise (SLR) page. How about you?

          Does the change in Karakoram matter? Let’s do the math.
          1.8 ± 0.2 mm yr−1 (from tide gauges alone} and 2.1 ± 0.2 mm yr−1 (from a combination of tide gauges and altimeter observations)
          sum of contributions (1.8 ± 0.4 mm yr−1)
          subtract ocean thermal expansion (0.8 mm yr-1) = 1.0 ± 0.4 mm yr-1

          subtract Greenland and Antarctica (0.4 mm yr-1) = 0.6 ± 0.4 mm yr-1
          subtract aquafer depletion (0.3 mm yr-1) = 0.3 ± 0.4 mm yr-1

          So the 0.05 mm yr-1 gain in ice by Karakoram = 0.25 ± 0.4 mm yr-1

          Which means that Karakoram equals 20% of the total SLR from glaciers. And it also means that SLR isn’t a reliable proxy for glacier melt.

          Indeed a meaningful adjustment to the ice budget, especially due to where it is situated in the mid lat (added mass will slow the planet’s rotation, and introduce a more pronounced wobble in the precession of eqinox).

          None of which however addresses my question, why after acknowledging that Karakoram was adding ice mass, didn’t the IPCC subtract that added mass from their SLR estimates?

    • stevefitzpatrick said

      Toto,

      “The “Himalayan glaciers” (whichever definition you use) are actually losing mass.”

      Hummm… maybe not.

      http://www.livescience.com/18372-ice-caps-glaciers-melt-satellite.html

      The GRACE data says no change either way. For sure they are not losing mass very fast, if at all.

      • Carrick said

        I also don’t trust Grace for a flip to resolve anything at that scale. First let’s make corrections to the data that aren’t even based on real physical models that are 10-100 times larger than the effects they are reporting, and then let’s accept the results without even batting an eye.

        Or … let’s bat an eye. I think this method is promising but it’s not ready to replace ground based gravity surveys just yet.

      • Carrick said

        People forget that the main products from it are very large scale, like sea level change. Even that is getting a substantial amount of scrutiny.

        The finer scale stuff… I just don’t think the subsidence models are believable. Note in Steve’s link the largest variance is occurring in regions that are very geographically active (and the much larger mass source that is Greenland is quiescent by comparison).

        We still need feet on the ground. The satellite people are always promising us that their much more costly programs will do everything we can’t do, and everything we could do as well. That’s to me mainly salesmanship. Steric sea level rise would be enough to justify the mission.

        • stevefitzpatrick said

          Carrick,

          I think you misunderstood the graphic I linked to. They excluded the contribution of Greenland and Antarctica from the map. You may well be right about GRACE based measurements having a large uncertainty. Maybe you could write a comment that lays out your concerns in more detail.

          • stevefitzpatrick said

            Carrick,

            I was only trying to point out to Toto that things are not so certain about the loss of glaciers from the Himalayan glaciers. The authors of the paper where that graphic came from expressed surprise about the lack of measured mass loss in the Himalayas.

          • Carrick said

            Yeah, I got that Steve. I’m not sure how we’d really know how much ice loss (or gain) there has been in the Himalayas. I’d be interested in a reference from Toto, that he thinks is believable, that “establishes” what he claims, namely measured ice loss.

    • papiertigre said

      Toto; The “Himalayan glaciers” (whichever definition you use) are actually losing mass.

      Yeah, just like Carnie Wilson, Oprah, and your mother in law. Now shut up and pass the gravy boat.

      From the AR4: In some regions, moderately increased accumulation observed in recent decades is consistent with changes in atmospheric circulation and associated increases in winter precipitation (e.g., southwestern Norway, parts of coastal Alaska, Patagonia, Karakoram, and Fjordland of the South Island of New Zealand)

      Alaska? Patagonia? Karakoram? That’s the top three biggest ice fields, not counting Antarctica and Greenland, growing in spite of how determined the glaciologists are not to look.

  4. diogenes said

    I believe that the warmistas’ current favourite meme is that they are poor at communication and therefore losing the attention of the public. The tortuous wording of this abstract suggests that they might be right. Negative warming….negative sea-level rise…negative credibility……

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