West Antarctic Ice Melt; Water or Fire?

Timothy Birdnow

Poor Global Warming just can't catch a break. Planetary temperatures aren't cooperating, nor is the rate of sea level rise, and now even West Antarctica seems to be gouging James Hansen in the eye.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered a chain of active volcanoes under the West Antarctic ice sheet.

This is interesting because West Antarctica is the region that Global Warming hysterics (the Gang Green) point to as "proof" that Global Warming is happening to the southernmost polar region. Now we see there may be another reason for ice loss in WAIS.

From the press release:

Will the new volcano erupt?
"Definitely,” Lough said. "In fact, because the radar shows a mountain beneath the ice, I think it has erupted in the past, before the rumblings we recorded.”

Will the eruptions punch through a kilometer or more of ice above it?
The scientists calculated that an enormous eruption, one that released 1,000 times more energy than the typical eruption, would be necessary to breach the ice above the volcano.

MacAyeal Ice Stream.

On the other hand, a subglacial eruption and the accompanying heat flow will melt a lot of ice. "The volcano will create millions of gallons of water beneath the ice — many lakes full,” Wiens said.

This water will rush beneath the ice toward the sea and feed into the hydrological catchment of the MacAyeal Ice Stream, one of several major ice streams draining ice from Marie Byrd Land into the Ross Ice Shelf.

By lubricating the bedrock, it will speed the flow of the overlying ice, perhaps increasing the rate of ice-mass loss in West Antarctica.

"We weren’t expecting to find anything like this,” Wiens said.

Which means that we will have precisely the situation we have witnessed in WAIS; an acceleration in ice shelf collapse there.

In other words, carbon dioxide has nothing to do with it.

This contradicts claims by NASA, which blames West Antarctic Ice Sheet loss on warm ocean currents.

From the June 2013 press release:

"The study uses reconstructions of ice accumulation, satellite and aircraft readings of ice thickness, and changes in elevation and ice velocity to determine how fast ice shelves melt and compare the mass lost with the amount released by the calving, or splitting, of icebergs.

"The traditional view on Antarctic mass loss is it is almost entirely controlled by iceberg calving," said Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of California, Irvine. Rignot is lead author of the study to be published in the June 14 issue of the journal Science. "Our study shows melting from below by the ocean waters is larger, and this should change our perspective on the evolution of the ice sheet in a warming climate."

Ice shelves grow through a combination of land ice flowing to the sea and snow accumulating on their surface. To determine how much ice and snowfall enters a specific ice shelf and how much makes it to an iceberg, where it may split off, the research team used a regional climate model for snow accumulation and combined the results with ice velocity data from satellites, ice shelf thickness measurements from NASA's Operation IceBridge - an continuing aerial survey of Earth's poles - and a new map of Antarctica's bedrock.
Using this information, Rignot and colleagues were able to deduce whether the ice shelf was losing mass through basal melting or gaining it through the basal freezing of seawater.

In some places, basal melt exceeds iceberg calving. In other places, the opposite is true. But in total, Antarctic ice shelves lost 2,921 trillion pounds (1,325 trillion kilograms) of ice per year in 2003-2008 through basal melt, while iceberg formation accounted for 2,400 trillion pounds (1,089 trillion kilograms) of mass loss each year.

Basal melt can have a greater impact on ocean circulation than glacier calving. Icebergs slowly release melt water as they drift away from the continent. But strong melting near deep grounding lines, where glaciers lose their grip on the seafloor and start floating as ice shelves, discharges large quantities of fresher, lighter water near the Antarctic coast line. This lower-density water does not mix and sink as readily as colder, saltier water, and may be changing the rate of bottom water renewal."

End excerpt.

At the same time, Antarctic sea ice extent is at an all time high.

This makes no sense if you assume carbon dioxide is warming the atmosphere and thus leading to ice melt. In fact, it makes no sense if you assume the missing heat, the warming that is supposedly happening because of Global Warming but cannot be found, is going into the oceans, either. Sea ice forms because it is cold, plain and simple, and it is not moved out by ocean currents.

And a review of the Icesat satellite data from the time period of 1992 to 2008 showed a net gain in ice mass in Antarctica as well. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/10/icesat-data-shows-mass-gains-...

Now we know what caused this basal melt - not warm ocean currents but volcanoes underneath the ice.

It should be further pointed out that the number of small Antarctic icebergs have not risen; Nasa is correct in not attributing iceberg calving on the increase in sea ice. http://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00083/19444/17050.pdf (see figures 5 and 6.) Antarctic icebergs - unlike their Arctic cousins that are spawned by glaciers - form when a section of ice breaks off an ice shelf. If the WAIC were disintegrating we would should see more icebergs. We do not, which lead NASA to make the claim that the ice was melting from beneath, a result of deep, warm ocean currents. But now we know that ice is melting not from warm water but from geothermal activity.

The case for Global Warming grows increasingly thin.

Sea levels actually dropped in 2010 http://notrickszone.com/2011/08/31/der-spiegel-global-warming-now-c..., and their rise has slowed significantly in the last few years. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/28/obama-was-rightthe-rise-of-th... What does that mean?

It means more ice at the polls, or more water vapor in the atmosphere. If water vapor levels have risen we should see an increase in precipitation worldwide. There is no evidence of that.

Unless the extra water is hiding in the deep oceans along with that missing heat.
It's getting crowded down there.

Read more from Tim and friends at The Aviary www.tbirdnow.mee.nu

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Comment by Rich Knoch on December 8, 2013 at 2:20pm

Finally . . . . the ultimate Greenies Nirvana . . . natural volcanoes under Antarctica!

This proves, beyond a shadow of Greenies doubt, that Cave Men, driving to Antarctica in SUV's for December vacations, are absolutely, totally responsible for present day global warming and cooling.

After Iran touches off a Nuclear War, thanks to the Triumvirates Compound Ignorance (the rodham, Kerry and obama) survivors will see real Global Cooling, reminiscent of the Ice Age of 22,000+ years ago.

Comment by Debrajoe Smith-Beatty on December 8, 2013 at 7:23am


Comment by Rick L on December 7, 2013 at 6:19pm
Both sides in this global warming battle are wrong. Those who say global warming is not occurring are wrong. Those who claim global warming is caused by man's emissions are also wrong. Fact: the Earth reached a minimum in its latest ice age cycle 11,000 years ago and is currently in a warming phase. Thus, the Earth _is_ warming, so 'global warming' is real. Fact: Ice age cycles have been going on for millions of years, whereas man's industrial civilization has been around for only about 200 years. Thus, man cannot be the cause of the ice age cycles, including the current (warming) cycle. If mankind stops ALL industrial activity immediately (for example, every person on Earth dies from a horrible plague in the next few weeks) the current ice age cycle (warming trend) would continue. Man does not cause these cycles, so man cannot stop them. The ice age cycles have been occurring, and will continue to occur, with or without us. Could man's industrial emissions be accelerating, or retarding, the current natural warming trend? Perhaps, but even if we are affecting the rate of warming, we cannot stop or reverse it because the natural forces involved far outweigh any puny contribution of man. Reducing emissions in order to stop global warming is a fool's errand; only a scientifically illiterate fool, or a politician with an agenda to grind, would propose it.
Comment by william e grant on December 7, 2013 at 6:09pm


Comment by Robert H. Woodman on December 7, 2013 at 4:21pm

What puzzles me about the AGW promoters is that if their goal is to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, they have a much better drum to beat in ocean acidification than in global warming/climate change.  Unlike temperature variations, oceanic trends have steadily, albeit gradually, seen a drop in ocean water pH (which is on a logarithmic scale) that corresponds to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the water.  If they wanted a drum to beat, the science of acid/base chemistry is much better understood and much more well defined than the science of climate change.  They chose climate change.  The climate hasn't cooperated.  Oh, well.

Comment by Phil McConathy on December 7, 2013 at 3:37pm
I find it hard to believe these wizards of smart can't understand that the constant changing earth and the Sun are the basic reason for any ice formations. Funny how Al "ozone head" Gore and his global warming/cooling/whatever name they use on any giving day nuts keep wanting to harm all economic activity in America all based on a hoax. This is a great article. Thanks!
Comment by Marcia Wood on December 7, 2013 at 3:19pm

Great article - guess Gore just earned his billions by one lie after the other.  

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