Glaciers are getting thinner and moving faster

Some people are using the annual variation is polar ice covering the sea as evidence that climate change and global warming is not actually taking place. This is misguided as the annual variations are not evidence of anything but annual variations. What is happening is indicated by trends. One thing is clear both in terms of an annual event and a trend. If you look beyond the polar sea ice and see what is happening to glaciers in Greenland and in Antarctica there are some very worrying trends.

Glaciers get bigger and smaller. In ice ages they got bigger from colder places sculpting the landscape. As climates warmed glaciers “retreated” or rather got smaller leaving behind such features as moraines. Glaciers also get fatter and thinner.

It is quite logical; if they receive more snow than they leak, they get fatter. If they receive less snow than they leak, they get thinner. They also get thinner when they work out.

NASA has been measuring glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica using their satellites. In these places the glaciers end at the sea and inevitably glaciers melt into the sea. Those dramatic pictures you see of glaciers breaking off are no more than dramatic pictures. The same glacier elsewhere will be receiving precipitation which will be formed into ice. The important thing is whether the glacier is melting faster than it grows and whether the galcier sppeds up, becasue if it does it becomes a leaner thinner structure.

The latest measurements show that most glaciers are getting thinner which means that there is more water in the sea and less frozen water on land. Glaciers are also flowing faster than have been previously measured, so that their rate of shrinkage seems to be accelerating. In fact the speed at which a glacier reaches the sea seems to be a bigger factor than precipitation.
It seems logical to me; a thinner glacier will move over land more quickly that it did when it was fatter, as there is less pressure exerting less friction to impede or slow down its progress.

Some glaciers are thinning at a rate exceeding nine meters a year. Some glaciers in Antarctica are getting fatter or staying the same, unaffected by their neighbours losing weight, but overall the trend is loss of ice height.

Normally these trends of fat and thin galciers and fast and slow ones, would be happen over millenia. An event that previously took a thousand years may now take a hundred years. This does not bode well for the future climate.

8 Responses

  1. We are talking about the very big guys here right but what about the glaciers that have gone altogether, like some in Chile, Switzerland, we know that something has happened already because we can see bare land for the first time ever,

    The 18,000 year-old Chacaltaya glacier in the Bolivian Andes disappeared in August this year. Experts had forecast that it would survive until 2015, but it melted sooner than predicted, and what used to be famed as the world’s highest ski run, 5,300 metres above sea level, is now a boulder-strewn slope with a few patches of ice near the top,

    The Arctic ice cap is also a relevant pack of sea ice, which is normally about 6.5 to 10 feet or 2 to 3 meters
    thick during the winter where it grows to the size of the United States, and in the summer half of that ice disappears, just this summer the overall thickness was less than a meter overall, and the scientists at Newcastle univercity say could be an open stretch of water in the summer within three years .

    If the sun is just coming out of its 11 year cycle then we will sea, things warming up a little bit faster, lets wait and see.

  2. Robert,

    I think you have another good evidence of climate in change, today the Philippines has experienced a 6 hour deluge of rain that would normally fall in the normally rainy country over 1 month Manila is flooded and the reports are coming in over the internet. The flooding is being likened to Katrina that flooded New Orleans ….

    at the same time B&Q this week are selliing your book ‘The Energy Age’ for 1pence a copy, it seems that most in the UK are disintrested to read books like the one you have written,because the the lights and TV are still on, and the gas central heating still works.


  3. Robert ,

    Would you think that the recent sandstorm in Australia and now the floods in Philippines worst in 40 years, plus the the floods in Taiwan recently worst in 50 years are inter-related and a result of climate change?


  4. I can help you on this one,

    As the planet warms and more moisture is locked into the atmosphere there is always going to be more rain but not in all place, some get drier and some will be much wetter,

    How it works is this, in order of rain forming there must also be more pollution in the atmospohere, rather kike when we try to seed the clouds with aluminium oxides to make it rain.

    Without that pollution for themoisture to adhear to it takes longer to rain, and what normally falls seasonally in a given area will stay that little bit longer in the air and fall somewhere else, hensce a severe drought, and floods where they have plenty of water.

    Then there is the hot and cold syndrome coupled together with the former system, this is causing real problems in a very small areas, where we see huge amounts of water being realesed at once, as air rises it cools and if that happens fast it cools quicker causing massive releases of water straight down the funnel as to say.

    Gone are the days of normal weather patterns, we started to see things going wrong many years ago where hurricanes were said not to happen when they did, weahter reports today are still very limited as they can only get the information to us after it has started to happen.

    Huge weather fronts can be tracked but not actually known where they are going to go.

    The key word is pollution or particulates, did you know that millions of gallons of jet fuel are dumped into the atmosphere every year,so as to make the planes land more safely,they have a take offf and landing weight, if they are over on landing they simply dump 100’s of gallons, and if you take all the flights in a given period or time of year, this had got to be having an efect in itself, again yet another particulate for moisture to adhear to.

  5. Sand storms in Austrailia wow

  6. Also the Arctic has become feasible to Navigate from Europe to Asia this is very worrying…. The article on News BBC is here :

  7. I saw that at 3 o clocks, it would save millions of gallons in fuel costs though, on the other hand and entirely relatedto thid thread is,

    the only worrying thing for existing trading opposites which might come out of this, is Russia would then get a bigger share of thespoils with the trade running right past their front door, which would slowly back track the US economy further,

    and another trade wars might begin, with forein companies setting up shop there instead of in countries like Iindonesia and China, lets face it the Russian economy really needs a boost, they have plenty of gas left, which will out last oil by a few decades at least.

    good map here

    If the oil ended up in the Euro pockets instead of dollars, which will really upset the apple cart, but I recon you would see the Us relations becomming better if they realised they might loose overall control of the world economy, all these things have already been talked about in the press and all over the W’s3.

    There is also talk of the USA trying to globally dim the area of the arctic, so to keep the ice shelf in tact for longer, using jets and con trails, might be just that though a con, but one never knows what people are capable of do you, open eyes and open fertive mind is called for at all times..

  8. Damm it I always do it, I forgot to say that a counrty with its own resorces, raw materials and an already mechanised workforse is one to be reconed with on all fronts, and one without or running out better look out as they say, its human nature I’m affraid,

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