2011-02-28 19:55:38Could "Why do glaciers lose ice" be improved?


I have answered a question using this rebuttal, but didn't feel it was very convincing.  

This explanation is easier to understand. (Move down to Disintegration Causes)

In addition it might be useful to show that temperatures are high enough in summer to melt ice. 

Disintegration Causes

2011-03-01 21:35:09
Rob Painting

Anything that makes climate science easier to understand for Joe & Jane Public is a good thing in my book. Looks like the "argument" could do with a basic rebuttal. Is that what you have in mind.?

2011-03-02 00:12:16


Actually the SkS article "Why do glaciers lose ice" wasn't a rebuttal so it appears we don't have one

It starts from this question on a forum

" ....I have tried to follow some of the chat on this thread with great interest.

I originally believed in the reports in AGW, but after following some of the chat here and in the press, I have very serious doubts now.

I don't understand many of the issues as people tend to post links to articles rather than try to argue on individual points among each other so I would like to start posting here by asking my first simple question.

As I understand it, there is reported alarm about the ice in Antarctica (leaving the Arctic aside as that is basically floating in the sea anyway) melting away if AGW continues. But even the most pessimistic warmist reports talk of a possible warming of a few degrees c by the end of the century, up to about 5 degrees at most. But the average temperatures in Antarctica are well below 5 degrees below zero, so assuming that ice melts at zero degrees, and assuing this worse case scenario, why should the Antarctic ice sheet melt away?

This may be simplistic, but it's something I just don't understand and many of the scare stories fail to address such a basic point. Or was my scientific understanding totally wrong about the freezing point of water.

Any comments much appreciated.

Obviously there are several issues there which I have addressed, but the rebuttal would be more focussed upon the myth

'Temperatures are too low in polar regions to cause melting of the glaciers'

Then the rebuttal would show

1) temperatures are already high enough in summer to result in glacial melt

2) evidence they are melting and disintegrating, 

3) an explanation of how disintegration can be caused.

4) predicted enhanced temperature increase at the poles due to climate change

2011-03-02 04:10:45comment
Robert Way


Certainly some improvements could be used. That being said the ice shelf fracturing mechanism (with melt ponds) has only been observed on the Antarctic Peninsula and considering it only contains 0.7m sea level rise equivalent of ice it is probably not the best choice for summarizing the whole EAIS and WAIS. Furthermore the graphic shows a glacier bed grounded above sea level which is not a great proxy for what we see in the WAIS and parts of the EAIS. Melt-water lubricating the bed is also something that is not a big issue in the EAIS or WAIS and increased surface melting and melt-water percolation has actually been shown to decrease glacier speeds in some glaciers.

An okay overview is here

I think that overall though your points could prove very useful for greenland but remember that the most important contributor is oceanic warming causing grounding line retreat...

2011-03-02 05:26:12
Rob Painting

"Actually the SkS article "Why do glaciers lose ice" wasn't a rebuttal so it appears we don't have one"

The note at the bottom of the post says it was adapted into one. Doesn't quite make sense to me, but a basic version covering this would be great.

2011-03-02 06:15:31


Yes sorry there is a rebuttal!  What was confusing me is that the file title and link title is different than the title text of the article.


I guess my main point is that these articles don't really address the criticism Antarctica is too cold to lose ice

although the brief introduction does a bit,

What the science says...

Antarctica is losing ice because its glaciers are speeding up. This is due to melt water lubricating the base of the glaciers and the removal of ice shelves which act as a "speed bump" slowing the glacier flow. The ice shelves are thinning due to warming ocean waters

wouldn't we need to show how ice flows change with temperature, and show that those temperatures are high enough in the polar summer to melt ice, and this is increasing in the vicinity of these ice shelves? Perhaps  changes in the temperature of the ice surface itself is a factor due to black carbon?