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Roaring glacial melt under the bridge to Kangerlussiauq, Greenland (twitter.com)
89 points by DoreenMichele 74 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments



Lot of silt in that water! There has been some interesting debate recently on the efficacy of glacial erosion under the Greenland ice sheet -- and more broadly whether or not global average erosion rate has increased due to northern hemisphere glaciation over the past few million years. One recent estimate [1] suggests:

> We find that, although runoff from Greenland represents only 1.1% of the Earth’s freshwater flux, the Greenland ice sheet produces approximately 8% of the modern fluvial export of suspended sediment to the global ocean.

[1] https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo3046


I wonder what effects on the ecosystem it will have when the ice sheet is too small to introduce comparable amounts of sediment into the ocean.


That's an interesting question. Fe and P are probably the most relevant nutrients that are abundant in suspended glacial rock flour. Since Fe3+ is pretty insoluble in seawater, the suspended (vs. dissolved) load might actually matter -- wind-blown dust would be the #1 competitor. The first relevant paper I found suggests the dust still dominates [1], but it was clearly enough of a consideration for them to write a paper about it. And sometimes the wind-blown dust is actually glacial rock flour [2], so the plot thickens!

[1] https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-015-0091-6

[2] https://doi.org/10.1029/2010GL046573


That is a staggering volume of melted ice.

I am interested to know how this melt’s volume compares to other years/days on record though.


Read down that tweet thread. Such facts and figures are published there.


Glancing over the thread I see lots of related data but nothing specific to Kangerlussiauq or volume of ice melted in a day in the past.


Can confirm. I was there 3 years ago, this time of the year, and this is way higher than it was during the week I was there.


2009: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F9FbdqGRsg

"at this rate of melting, Greenland is losing enough water each year to cover Germany a meter deep"



There goes a lot of relatively fresh water into the sea


This is expected. That's why they built a bridge there.



[flagged]


The tweet I posted is a purely factual statement with zero spin:

This is a roaring glacial melt, under the bridge to Kangerlussiauq, Greenland where it's 22C today and Danish officials say 12 billions tons of ice melted in 24 hours, yesterday.

Plus a cool video.

I'm an environmental studies major who pretty often preaches "It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine."

Lots of people hate me for that, but it has the upside that I can state unequivocally that I did not post this to say "The sky is falling!" and then run screaming across the stage flailing my arms like Kermit the frog.


But is the sky not falling on geological scales of time? Maybe it's not nuclear holocaust and immediate destruction of the planet and humanity but something more protracted over say 5,000 - 10,000 years?


That makes a number of assumptions, such as:

1. It's irreversible.

2. Change is inherently bad.

3. Humans are incapable of adapting.

We don't need all of these assumptions to be wrong. If just one of them is wrong, then we aren't "doomed."

We have a long track record of being terrible at predicting the future. We also routinely predict negative outcomes and then move on to a new reason to hand wring when our prediction turns out to be wrong.

When the Kuwaiti oil wells were lit on fire, it was predicted they would burn for years and be a global environmental catastrophe. When crack teams converged on Kuwait, invented new techniques and put them out in six months, this was not celebrated. It was a minor footnote in more dramatic stories.

Y2K was supposed to cause a global financial meltdown. We look back on that and remember the folks who prepped for the Y2K Apocalypse as loonies. No one (but me)* gets up every day and goes "Thank God! We aren't living in the Y2K Post Apocalypse and my ATM still works!"

We certainly need to work on resolving some things. We also are working on it.

If you're scared, then give up your car, eat less meat, etc. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Your choice.

* Technically, not even me. I only do that occasionally, not daily.


If you're scared, then give up your car, eat less meat, etc. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Your choice.

Vote. Individual behavioral changes are fine and good, but structural change is the only way to meaningfully address the magnitude of the crisis modern civilization faces.


"Structural change" actually means "letting so-called experts who have made every prediction wrong so far, control public policy based on their new predictions". No, thanks.

Or, to put it another way: you think the crisis modern civilization faces is that we don't have enough central coordination to enforce what needs to be done. I think the crisis modern civilization faces is that we have too much central coordination, so people who don't actually have the knowledge and predictive power they claim to have can mess up everyone's life instead of just their own.


When have the predictions of experts been wrong? The consensus about global warming in the scientific community has been hitting it on the nose for decades. If anything, they’ve underestimated how rapid change would be. Their advice has also been largely ignored by governments. If we had actually let experts dictate policy back in the 90’s when the consensus was established, global warming would be solved by now.


> When have the predictions of experts been wrong?

And just to give some other examples besides the climate model predictions of warming:

Experts predicted that global cooling would lead to catastrophe in the 1970s.

Experts predicted there would be mass famine and a world population crash by the early 1980s.

Experts predicted that resource prices would skyrocket by the 1990s.

Experts predicted that we would be out of oil (not oil prices rising, but literally out, as in no more, wells all dry) by the turn of the millennium.

Experts predicted in the late 1980s that we had only 10 years to stop emitting CO2 or civilization would be destroyed. (Sound familiar?)

Except in areas where controlled experiments can be done, experts have a terrible track record of prediction. That's because in areas where controlled experiments cannot be done, the process of accumulating reliable knowledge is very, very slow. So it's not that the experts could have done better; they couldn't. Nobody could. But nobody wants to hear that we simply lack good predictive ability on a global scale in areas in which people have strong public policy convictions. People would rather have experts make unrealiable predictions, than have them truthfully say they just don't have the ability to predict.


Individual scientists get predictions wrong, consensus generally doesn’t since the dawn of modern science. If you research it you’ll see for example that global cooling was a minority view and the consensus at the time was warming.

Even the very first IPCC report from 1990 proved accurate in its predictions decades later because it was a consensus work. Climate predictions from the IPCC reports are accurate. There are decades of evidence.


> Individual scientists get predictions wrong, consensus generally doesn’t since the dawn of modern science.

Not if "consensus" is defined so that the current climate change alarmism counts as "consensus".

If the consensus is based on repeated controlled experiments that verify predictions to high accuracy, then yes, that kind of consensus generally doesn't make wrong predictions. In fact such a consensus almost never makes wrong predictions. But such a consensus is also rare in science, because it's very hard to make enough repeated controlled experiments to high enough accuracy to justify it.

> global cooling was a minority view and the consensus at the time was warming.

In the 1970s? No, it wasn't. The experts I mentioned were scientists.

> Even the very first IPCC report from 1990 proved accurate in its predictions decades later

I have no idea where you're getting that from. Those predictions are among the ones that are now falsified by the data. Even the IPCC itself implicitly admitted that in the AR5, by no longer claiming that its projections of climate change up to 2100 were based on climate models; they now claim those projects are based on "expert opinion", without specifying how that expert opinion was arrived at.


> The consensus about global warming in the scientific community has been hitting it on the nose for decades.

Surely you jest. The actual data on global average temperature has been below the low end of the 95% confidence interval of the model predictions for some time now. The model predictions were always high, but now they're so high that by the usual standards of science, they are falsified.


The planet is about 1C above baseline temps. Which is pretty much where the models predicted. Some a bit above and some a bit below, but not way off as you say. When I've seen people trot out this argument it's usually based on a dishonest reading of the models. Using model runs based on much higher emissions scenarios than what actually occurred.


> The planet is about 1C above baseline temps. Which is pretty much where the models predicted.

Sorry, but the fact is, as I said, that the actual temperature has been below the 95% confidence interval of the models for some time now. It is not "pretty much where the models predicted". Whether it's "about 1C above baseline temps" depends on where you pick the baseline, and there are at least as many choices of baseline as there are climate scientists.

> Using model runs based on much higher emissions scenarios than what actually occurred.

Sorry, but there are no model runs based on much higher emissions than what actually occurred. In fact it's the opposite: the actual emissions scenario that has happened is about the same as the worst case (highest) of the three classes of models (the "business as usual" models that assumed that no effort would be made to curb emissions). The only reason the actual emissions are a bit lower than that worst case model class, instead of as high or higher, is that the US shift to natural gas over the past 10 or 15 years cut US emissions almost in half. But actual emissions are significantly higher than the middle of the three model classes (the one that assumed some emissions cuts would be made), and much higher than the lowest of the three model classes (the one that assumed drastic emissions cuts would be made). So two out of the three classes of model runs were based on emissions significantly lower than what actually occurred. And yet temperatures, as I said, are lower than the low end of the 95% confidence interval.

And in fact, the disparity between the models and the data is even worse than what I just said, because the 95% confidence interval that always gets quoted is based on all three of the model sets. Which makes no sense at all, because two of those model sets were based on emissions scenarios different from what actually occurred, so they're irrelevant when comparing model predictions to actual data. In fact, the only one of the three model sets that should be used to compute the 95% confidence interval is the worst case one (the highest of the three), and when you use that confidence interval the gap between the low end of the interval and the actual data is even wider (and the actual data went outside the low end of the interval even earlier).


Decentralisation is beautiful but it has one fatal weak spot: tragedy of the commons. That isn't some politicophilosophising; it is a mathematical fact (see game theory, which is consistently vindicated in this model). The only way to combat this is centralising governance of the resource being overused. Fishing is an example, and CO2 (a "negative" resource use which follows the same patterns).

I won't argue that the people in power are doing great, but I can guarantee you that throwing our hands in the air and giving up on centralisation entirely is not the answer. For the above reason. It's throwing out the baby with the bathwater.


> The only way to combat this is centralising governance of the resource being overused.

"Centralizing governance" can mean one of two things: political control by a government, or private ownership.

The latter does indeed work as a solution.

The former always ends up making things worse instead of better, because special interests can capture the government's regulatory power.


People don’t agree about what’s meaningful. But thanks for being discouraging.


Eh, I mean the silicate weathering feedback will definitely fix the CO2 issue on Myr timescales, but doesn't mean it mightn't be a bumpy ride.

Then there's the issue of above-background extinction rates -- not entirely a CO2 / climate change issue, but arguably already irreversible unless we're about to go all Jurassic-Park-style Pleistocene rewilding over here.


Then there's the issue of above-background extinction rates ... arguably already irreversible unless we're about to go all Jurassic-Park-style Pleistocene rewilding over here.

Lions have adapted to hunt seals and seabirds in Namibia, study finds

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/28/lions-ad...

India’s wild tiger population rises 33% in four years

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/29/india-wild-tig...

Science has identified some 2 million species of plants, animals and microbes on Earth, but scientists estimated there are millions more left to discover, and new species are constantly discovered and described.

https://www.livescience.com/topics/newfound-species

First wild polar-grizzly bear hybrid offspring discovered

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/first-wild...

New wolf coyote hybrid

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/a-new-wolf-coyote-hybr...

I posit that some of our hysteria is rooted in our egomaniacal fantasy that we already know everything. We don't.


None of these examples help us survive. Humans are highly adaptable and live in nearly every climate. We don’t need to evolve. Unfortunately our staple crops are far less adaptable, and we’ve already done a very good job at extracting what we can from the available pool of genetic variation. Plant pathogens are however often good at adapting, and will quite possibly thrive in changing conditions. Yet somehow we’ll have to feed an extra 3-5 billion people in the next 30 years in this rapidly changing climate. As I’ve said in other threads, it’s not obvious how we’re going to do it, and if we struggle, there’ll be serious political instability, which is almost always bad for those going through it.


>Unfortunately our staple crops are far less adaptable, and we’ve already done a very good job at extracting what we can from the available pool of genetic variation.

That's very far from the truth. Out of hundreds of known natural corn varieties, we're using less than 10 natural and some genetically-engineered in industrial farming. We are so flexible in growing crops, that we can select the most efficient variants for every climate and situation.


There are lots of good solutions and ideas for solving these problems, my concern is our ability to implementing them well, quickly, at human scale, is another thing all together.


> my concern is our ability to implementing them well, quickly, at human scale, is another thing all together.

We don't need to. There is no looming climate apocalypse coming that will require large-scale measures in a few years.

FWIW, a single farmer figured out here in Austria, where it's too cold and dry for rice normally, how to grow organic rice in basically 2 years of cheap experiments. He's selling it for a living now. Don't underestimate our ability to adapt.


There are a lot of people in Africa, India and Brazil with much less stable governance systems and infrastructure. Even if in 15 years we noted some shift in the climate that was going to impact tens of millions of people in these regions within 5 years thereafter, I don't know I believe humanity is well prepared to mobilize for that. To me it feel like we're going to end up having cancer in a burning building facing knife fights as we try to escape.


To me it feel like we're going to end up having cancer in a burning building facing knife fights as we try to escape.

I have a serious medical condition. Due to physiological processes related to my health issues, I sometimes have big spikes in anxiety. I typically project that anxiety onto other things and then catastrophize about social stuff or financial stuff in my life.

I believe that dynamic is actually much more common than is generally recognized. For many people, fear of climate change may well be an unrecognized metaphor that fits with the idea that "I have a very big and threatening (personal) problem that I don't know how to solve, one so bad it is threatening to destroy my whole world."

I'm fortunate that I am aware of the somatopsychic side effects of my health issues, plus I live with my two adult sons who can tell me "Mom, we're fine. You are just having an anxiety attack because of (health thing)."

It appears that most people don't even recognize that somatopsychic effects exist at all, much less have some means to do a reality check and say "This is probably not really a reaction to The News. It's probably really a reaction to (health thing)."


That must be really difficult to deal with. I'm grateful that I feel happy and healthy. I think my analogy was mis-understood? it's certainly not me that i'm worried about, I'll be just fine.


> o me it feel like we're going to end up having cancer in a burning building facing knife fights as we try to escape.

It's called "climate anxiety".


? Assuming you meant to reply to me, I think this is orthogonal to what I posted

ETA since we seem to have reached maximum comment depth: To clarify, the context suggests you mean to disagree with me, but I don't see any incompatibility between your comment and mine. These examples are not bringing back species that are currently extinct. That is not to say that life is not adaptable or that vacated ecological niches will not eventually be re-filled. Judging from the paleontological record, they definitely will -- sometimes rapidly and sometimes not for many Myr. Sometimes, due to convergent evolution, the replacements for a given niche are shockingly close in appearance to the extinct originals, but it's never quite the same as before.

I think the only thing I actually disagree with here is the apparent (implied?) suggestion that folks concerned about climate change are in a state of "hysteria." The climate scientists I know would be among the first to agree that we don't know everything!


If the Greenland ice sheet melts or the permafrost releases its carbon, it is very unlikely that humans can do anything to stop that. Once we reach those tipping points, climate change is effectively irreversible on human time scales.


>If you're scared, then give up your car, eat less meat, etc. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Your choice.

Global problems can’t be solved by the virtuous behavior of individuals. This is a policy problem on a scale three or four orders of magnitude larger than the success stories you have pointed out.


The Kuwaiti oil wells and Y2K are not great analogies. They are both orders of magnitude easier to address, there aren't wealthy and powerful elites stymying efforts to stop them, and they don't require everyone changing their lives drastically to make a dent in the problem.

I've heard this idea from more than one libertarian friend that "change is not bad" in relation to climate change in the last month, so it makes me wonder whether a think tank is spreading this talking point virally.

To counter with another analogy - this attitude is like living in a crackhouse steadily filling with trash and roaches and termites and not addressing the problem because "change is good" and "we can adapt".


> If you're scared, then give up your car, eat less meat, etc. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Your choice.

But if you are an important celebrity, you should by all means (i.e. typically a private jet) fly to Google Camp in Sicily to talk about global warming.

https://palermo.gds.it/articoli/economia/2019/07/28/effetto-...


> If you're scared, then give up your car, eat less meat, etc. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Your choice.

If I weren't 10-15 yr short of dead, with no descendants, I'd be scared. But even then, why should I give up my modest comforts? Let all the 1% jerks who consume 10x what I do live considerably leaner.


> Let all the 1% jerks who consume 10x what I do live considerably leaner.

Okay, but what percentage are you in?

Judging by your comment history, I'm going to assume you're in the US. That already puts you pretty close to the top 1% on a global scale.

Should everyone in the world look at Americans living a standard American lifestyle and think, "let all the 5% jerks who consume 5x what I do live considerably leaner"?

While that may actually be a fairly reasonable response, the problem is that the same excuse can be used basically wherever you are on the ladder.

Then there's those of us who do live without cars, with little or no meat, with small houses that use little cooling/heating. What does that make us? Fools for even trying?


I'm talking about the global ~1%, who control about half of the world's wealth.[0] Sure, I'm in the US. But I live in a ~70 m^2 apartment, which is highly insulated. I do own a car, but it's small and old. I don't commute, and fly very rarely.

It's true that having little money drives much of that. I've never liked working, unless it was something that interested me. And I've rarely (maybe 3-5 years, out of 50 adult years) had a 9-5 job. But conversely, being OK with a fairly simple life gave me freedom to not care much about money.

Anyway, I'd say that I'm pretty close to the global middle class. Close enough, at least.

0) https://www.visualcapitalist.com/global-wealth-concentration...


Sure he shows some info, but it seems he also cherry picks hot years in the past too. Doesn't talk much on averages, just a few old newspaper articles.




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