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Shukman Peddles More Greenland Nonsense

July 31, 2017

By Paul Homewood



David Shukman has been to Greenland to look at algae:




Scientists are “very worried” that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected.



They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface.


Dark ice absorbs more solar radiation than clean white ice so warms up and melts more rapidly.

Currently the Greenland ice sheet is adding up to 1mm a year to the rise in the global average level of the oceans.

It is the largest mass of ice in the northern hemisphere covering an area about seven times the size of the United Kingdom and reaching up to 3km (2 miles) in thickness.

This means that the average sea level would rise around the world by about seven metres, more than 20ft, if it all melted.

That is why Greenland, though remote, is a focus of research which has direct relevance to major coastal cities as far apart as Miami, London and Shanghai and low-lying areas in Bangladesh and parts of Britain.

Algae were first observed on the Greenland ice sheet more than a century ago but until recently its potential impact was ignored. Only in the last few years have researchers started to explore how the microscopically small plants could affect future melting.

A five-year UK research project known as Black and Bloom is under way to investigate the different species of algae and how they might spread, and then to use this knowledge to improve computer projections of future sea level rise.

The possibility of biologically inspired melting was not included in the estimates for sea level rise published by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, in its latest report in 2013.

That study said the worst-case scenario was a rise of 98cm by the end of the century.




Meanwhile, another factor that may be driving the melting has been identified by an Austrian member of the team, Stefan Hofer, a PhD student at Bristol.

In a paper recently published in Science Advances, he analysed satellite imagery and found that over the past 20 years there has been a 15% decrease in cloud cover over Greenland in the summer months.

“It was definitely a ‘wow’ moment,” he told me.

Although temperature is an obvious driver of melting, the paper estimated that two-thirds of additional melting, above the long-term average, was attributable to clearer skies.

What is not known is how this might affect the algae. Their darker pigments are believed to be a protection from ultra violet light – so more sunshine might encourage that process of darkening or prove to be damaging to them.


If ever there was a non story!

For a start, algae was observed over a century ago. No doubt it has been there for millennia. Why it should make any difference now is anybody’s guess.

And they are not even sure whether more sunshine will make them grow or kill them!

The Black and Bloom project, which Shukman has been visiting, is based near to Kangerlussuaq, in SW Greenland.



Contrary to popular myth, propagated by the likes of Shukman, temperatures in that part of the world are no higher than they were in the 1930s and 40s.

Ilulissat (Station 4221) has a long temperature record, and is very close to Kangerlussuaq:




DMI also concoct a merged SW Greenland series, which shows a similar pattern. 2010 was an anomalously warm year, but no other year since 2000 has exceeded some of those earlier years prior to 1950.




To put matters further into perspective, recent studies have shown that shown that Greenland’s ice sheet actually gained mass between 1961 – 1990:





And for a longer perspective, we have the ice core data.


For some reason, algae did not cause the Greenland ice cap to melt away in all of those earlier warm periods.

  1. July 31, 2017 11:48 am

    “accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected”
    you mean it’s worse than previously thought?

    but before you freak out please study all of Paul’s excellent sea level posts
    you might also want to take a look at this

    • Broadlands permalink
      July 31, 2017 12:45 pm

      “….accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected.” Could it be that the models are wrong?

      • July 31, 2017 2:14 pm

        Good point. Every time they say “worse than previously thought” they are admitting that previously the science was not as settled as they thought it was.

  2. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 31, 2017 1:04 pm

    This means that the average sea level would rise around the world by about seven metres, more than 20ft, if it all melted.

    Duh! What kind of catastrophic warming – and what could cause it – over what kind of period – does Shukman think would be enough to melt ALL the ice in Greenland? Damn fool. That’s the argument of the kindergarten.

  3. StewGreen permalink
    July 31, 2017 1:29 pm

    Tip :

    nice bit of spin their : Foreign anon funded comes in starts suing UK gov, and it’s somehow UKgovs fault for not capitulating.

  4. StewGreen permalink
    July 31, 2017 1:31 pm

    Comment I posted on BBBC July 29, 2017 at 11:56 am
    FooC now on Radio 4 : time for another Arctic ice scare story
    Last week Alaska, this week Greenland
    … Shukman saying alge is making ice dark COULD cause less sun to be reflected and melt more ice, and raise sea level.

    Last week the beeboid reporter quoted a phrase of one her contacts, about temperature rising faster in the Arctic
    Yet when I checked the context..she’d missed something very important
    That his post began with that phrase, but then pointed out a contradiction.
    If the temperature was getting warmer why is this years ice melt so much later than previous years ?

    eh up next item was stirring up doubt about Trump again.

  5. StewGreen permalink
    July 31, 2017 1:33 pm

    correction not “ice melt” but last of seasonal snow
    See the CooperIsland blog

  6. Tom O permalink
    July 31, 2017 2:51 pm

    It’s worse than we thought! There MUST be under ice lakes, just like Antarctica, so there MAY be fish farting and all that stuff. We need to study how this probably is affecting the ice melt, and birds may fly nearby the sides of the ice sheets and poop on them, and this most certainly will affect the ice sheet melt as well, so we will need funding for that, and how about snails? There must be snails, and I am sure they are affecting the ice melt rate, certainly there is funding for that study, too. In other words, is there no end to the stupid bulls#!t studies these people can come up with to milk this “green cow?”

  7. July 31, 2017 4:49 pm

    There may be something to this, but I doubt that it has a lot to do with temperature. Algae cannot grow on pure water (or pure snow). They need nutrients and trace elements. Take nitrogen deposition: “Nitrate concentrations recorded in Greenland ice rose by a factor of 2–3, particularly between the 1950s and 1980s, reflecting a major change in NOx emissions reaching the background atmosphere.” – Wolff, 2013.

    A casual search will find similar patterns for sulphur and trace elements.

    So what do you think might be increasing the algae: temperature or nutrients?

  8. July 31, 2017 5:14 pm

    Oh my a real climate scientist, or alarmist client-ist, with no field experience in real world research, parroting the crap from GRIST like publications. GRIST (garbage regurgitated is STANDARD Tome). Quick, let’s listen and whore-ship at his feet for each word he writes……… goodness he went to Greenland and found Algae reported over 100 years ago. “A NEW world shaking discovery”. Nobel prize Time..he shows up at work sometimes and reports what he see’s on the net. AWESOME giant of science. Oh my….call the Wizard of OZ!

  9. August 1, 2017 8:54 am

    BBC climate policy: stir up doubt, then press the doom button.

  10. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 1, 2017 9:16 am

    Looking at the ice core measurements (which I do not understand very well), the earlier warming and cooling periods stand out massively. There has been some doubt as to whether the warming and cooling shown were global I believe, does the Antarctic show the same peaks and troughs?

    Is there any recent evidence about the global nature of these events?

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