Many Global Warming arguments refer to the receding glaciers
along the coasts of Greenland.
However, it is almost never mentioned that
- Greenland was about
2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in 1200 AD than it is today (during the height of the Viking
- The total ice mass is actually increasing
| North Atlantic Oscillation
| Greenland is actually cooling
| MSNBC Article
What is said
What is not typically said
- The glaciers are melting because of Global Warming
- In the last 5 years, the glaciers are melting faster than ever before
- If all the ice melts, the sea level will rise 23 feet
- Greenland was warmer in 1920 than it is today
- In 1200, the whole planet was warmer than it was in 1920
- Because the climate of the North Atlantic area varies independent of the rest of the planet,
what happens in Greenland neither supports nor refutes the Global Warming theory
The Viking settlements are part of the evidence that Greenland was once much warmer than it is today.
Greenland Guide's Viking Timeline indicates that the Vikings were in Greenland from
982 till 1500. Interestingly, this correlates almost perfectly
this CDC graph of global temperatures
from 900 AD till 1950 AD.
Note that the graph indicates that it is still cooler today that it was in 1200 AD.
North Atlantic Oscillation
The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)
is a weather pattern that affects the temperature and humidity
of Eastern North America, Western Europe,
and Greenland. This 50 to 70 year cycle is known to affect the growth and melting
of glaciers in Greenland and Western Europe.
(The Viking warm period was part of an unrelated 1,000 year cycle.)
The Earth Institute at Columbia University provides
- An NAO temperature chart showing 1860 to 1998
- 2 additional graphics showing that various parts
of Greenland are wetter or dryer based on the NOA cycles
The National Weather Service's North Atlantic Oscillation site
contains fairly technical data and a few interesting charts.
The NAO suggests that the Greenland glaciers are currently melting because the area is dryer.
In fact, the data shows that the
glaciers are melting faster as the
North Atlantic is currently getting colder
(the exact opposite of what I hear in "news" reports).
As a result,
the obvious connection between the NAO and melting glaciers
must be discredited before any Greenland data can be used
to support the Global Warming theory.
A Google search for "North Atlantic Oscillation" (in double quotes)
returns about 300,000 hits. However, many of the sites I visited
don't show the cooling trend for the last 5 to 10 years.
(That's right, the data that supports the "wrong" conclusion is simply missing.)
Greenland is actually cooling
This is one of the papers that tries to convince readers that
the current cooling in Greenland should not be used to disprove
Global Warming and the Greenland Ice Sheet
- March 2004, Climatic Change
A considerable and rapid warming over all of coastal Greenland occurred in the 1920s when the average annual surface air temperature rose between 2 and 4 °C in less than ten years (at some stations the increase in winter temperature was as high as 6 °C). This rapid warming, at a time when the change in anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases was well below the current level, suggests a high natural variability in the regional climate.
Actually, the full abstract indicates that what happens in Greenland does not
reflect what happens globally but, instead, is part of a 50 year cycle -
the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation).
Unfortunately, since the full text of this article is $40,
I did not read it
and the quote above is only from the abstract.
I should also note that many articles in Climatic Change magazine imply that Global Warming
is a fact.
MSNBC Article - data and analysis
This article is interesting because it provides data on both sides of the argument.
However, if you only read the title and the first few paragraphs, the obvious
conclusion is that Global Warming is already so bad that there is no hope.
(My comments are indented and italicized below relevant quotes.)
MSNBC Feb. 16, 2006 -
Greenland's glaciers losing ice at faster rate
- Satellite observations indicate that Greenland's glaciers have been dumping ice into
the Atlantic Ocean at a rate that's doubled over the past five years
- This is the first sentence - it is written to imply it is now too late
- [These] conclusions are based on nearly a decade's worth of radar data
- This really says it all - predict a 12,000 year climate model on only 10 years worth of data
- The Greenland melt currently contributes about two-hundredths of an inch (0.5 millimeters) to the annual 0.12-inch (3-millimeter) rise in global sea levels
- Sorry, but I am not going to worry about two-hundredths of an inch per year
- Virtually everyone agrees that the complete disappearance of the 2-mile-thick (3-kilometer-thick) Greenland Ice Sheet would cause an estimated 23-foot (7-meter) rise in global sea levels.
- Then it continues that it will take centuries for it to melt
- The Greenland Ice Sheet's role in climate predictions is not crystal-clear, however. Researchers have to account not only for the loss of ice around the edges of the sheet, but also for the buildup of ice in Greenland's interior.
- I was a little surprised to see this statement - it basically says that what happens in Greenland
is really irrelevant and it implies that the amount of ice in Greenland may be actually increasing
- "industrial greenhouse-gas emissions"
- Interesting phrase - the general "scientific" term is "anthropogenic greenhouse gases"
- Greenland went through a rapid warming trend starting in the 1920s, which was followed by cooling temperatures.
- I have a more complete reference to this
Any report that claims that something happening in Greenland
signals something on a global scale is just wrong.
- Greenland is currently cooling, not warming
- The total ice cover is increasing
- Reduced humidity (not local warming) causes most glaciers to shrink,
that is why glaciers are shrinking faster as the temperature drops