The Okjökull glacier used to stretch six square miles (15 square kilometres). Now environmentalists have dedicated a plaque to mourn its death. Sadly, it has been in the morgue (lost its title as a glacier) since 2014. Why weren’t the plaque makers firing up the molten brass to fill the die-cast 5 years prior? All about the narrative, not the science behind glaciers. CM understands why Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir might want to virtue signal in this way but why did it require UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to burn fossil fuels and fly all the way to morally preen? This is so typical of the obsession to misrepresent reality.
According to the UN Chronicle, “The sudden surging of glaciers is not related to climatic fluctuations, and surges can take place even at times when glaciers retreat. This is the usual behaviour of some glaciers and can not be evidence of an impending surge… unfortunately, direct observations of a change in the movement of a glacier at the onset of a surge are still very rare, and the causes for surges are not yet clear…It should be emphasized that the problem of climate change is extremely difficult to understand, and it has still not been possible to know what factors in the past decades — natural or anthropogenic — have caused the warming. There are still many uncertainties in solving this problem. IPCC estimates are rather wide in their range of accuracy and, therefore, cannot predict with confidence…at least not in the coming decades and centuries.“
In Greenland, the Jakobshavn glacier around 2012 had been retreating about 1.8 miles and thinning nearly 130 ft per annum. In the past two years, according to a study in Monday’s Nature Geoscience, it started growing by the same amount. “A natural cyclical cooling of North Atlantic waters likely caused the glacier to reverse course“, said study lead author Ala Khazendar, a NASA glaciologist on the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project. Khazendar and colleagues say “this coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation — a natural and temporary cooling and warming of parts of the ocean that is like a distant cousin to El Nino in the Pacific.”
Approximately 11% of Iceland’s total area of roughly 100,000 km2 is covered by glaciers. Vatnajökull is the largest glacier mass in Europe. It covers an area of roughly 8,000 km2, and is 950-1000 m where it is thickest. Its mean thickness is a little less than 500 m, and the total ice volume of Vatnajökull is probably in the order of 3,300 km3.
Glaciers on Iceland had their maximum Little Ice Age extension over 1890-1920. Glacier variations in Iceland since 1930 showed a clear response to variations in climate during the period: Most non-surging glaciers retreated strongly during the early half of the monitoring period, following the warm climate between 1930 and 1940. A cooling climate after 1940 led to a slowing of the retreat and many glaciers started to advance around 1970. Warming climate since 1985 led to an increased number of retreating glaciers. The estimated coverage loss per year is about 0.2% overall, which amounts to 20-30 km2 becoming ice-free every year. If the present trend continues, most glaciers on Iceland will have melted away within 500 years.
Major surging glaciers of Vatnajökull. Figure source: Björnsson et al. (2003)
A surge-type glacier experiences a dramatic increase in flow rate, which can be 10-100 times greater than normal flow rates. The velocities of surge-type glaciers can exceed 100 m/day. About 26 Icelandic glaciers are known to surge. Glacier variations in Iceland have been recorded systematically since the 1930s.
One of the best known surging glaciers in Iceland is Brúarjökull which has had major surges in 1810, 1890 and 1963/64. During the 1890 surge, the ice margin advanced about 10 km over a period of few months. Subsequent to the surge, the ice front became largely stagnant and the glacier retreated until it surged again in 1963-1964.
So while the mainstream media has got the desired effect of whipping up hysteria of receding glaciers caused by human-created CO2 based global warming, there is little effort to reference their own sources, such as the alarmist UN. How ironic it is that the UN doesn’t have any confidence in why these things happen yet the media seemingly does as long as it fits a narrative.
The plaque says 415ppm of C02. That’s right. CO2 is 0.0415% of the atmosphere. CM hopes his grandkids look at me one day and say, “why couldn’t people do simple mathematical fractions?“