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Heat loss from Earth’s interior responsible for sliding ice sheets

January 22, 2018

By Paul Homewood



From the “Who would have guessed that Department”:



Jan. 22 (UPI) — New research suggests the dissipation of heat from Earth’s interior is responsible for the acceleration of the seaward slide of Greenland’s ice sheets.

The descent of of Greenland’s shrinking glaciers is well documented, but the latest research — published this week in the journal Scientific Reports — is the first to link the ice loss with escaped heat from Earth’s interior.

The research was made possible by a decade-long survey of Greenland’s Young Sound fjord. For ten years, scientists with the Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources measured temperatures and salinity levels in the fjord. Their survey showed deep-lying water in the fjord, between 650 and 1,100 feet deep, has gradually warmed over the last decade.

Further analysis showed a significant amount of heat is emanating from Earth’s interior, slowly warming the fjord’s water. Scientists estimated 100 megawatts per square meter of energy was transferred from the Earth’s interior to the fjord.

The findings suggest similar amounts of heat were transferred to the bottoms of surrounding glaciers. This newly detailed warming mechanism creates lubrication, accelerating glacial descent.

“It is a combination of higher temperatures in the air and the sea, precipitation from above, local dynamics of the ice sheet and heat loss from the Earth’s interior that determines the mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet,” researcher Soren Rysgaard said in a news release. “There is no doubt that the heat from the Earth’s interior affects the movement of the ice, and we expect that a similar heat seepage takes place below a major part of the ice cap in the north-eastern corner of Greenland.”

Measuring heat flux beneath glaciers is difficult, but scientists hope their latest findings will lead to more accurate modelling of the warming mechanism. With more accurate measurements of heat flux, scientists can more accurately predict the fate of Greenland’s ice sheets.


More detail from MSN here.


As we know, Greenland is no warmer than now than it was in the 1930s., despite desperate efforts from temperature adjusters to persuade us otherwise.

And scientists know that the Greenland Ice Sheet receded tens of kilometers within its present day margins during the early and mid Holocene….

In many locations the ice sheet and mountain glaciers reached their maximum extents since the early Holocene during the Little Ice Age


The geological conditions around Greenland and Iceland have been in a state of flux for millennia. There is nothing at all unusual about the current state of Greenland’s glaciers.

  1. Tom Dowter permalink
    January 22, 2018 10:40 pm

    I have often wondered what causes El Ninos. There is no evidence of increased heat coming in from outside the earth and it would appear from OLR measurements that more heat is escaping. Clearly, the extra heat must be coming from somewhere deep down.

    It is interesting that this effect now appears to have been observed in the case of Greenland glaciers.

    We should also note that the climate scientists have no acceptable explanation as yet for other aspects of the inter-annual variance in global temperatures. They seem to be obsessed with trends.

  2. Athelstan permalink
    January 22, 2018 10:47 pm

    “It is a combination of higher temperatures in the air and the sea, precipitation from above, local dynamics of the ice sheet and heat loss from the Earth’s interior that determines the mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet,” researcher Soren Rysgaard said in a news release.

    Said some student from a college tech.

    We were taught about a physical factor known once as regelation ie the pressure of gravity on the base of the glacier causes the ice to melt and thus better enabling the movement of the ice creep, firn accretion in upper reaches of the cwm also forces the ice to move ‘downstream’ it’s all about gravity, mass and pressure.

    There are hot spots, rift zones under the Antarctic ice sheet however Greenland’s geology is mainly old shield crystalline and pretty darned ‘inert’ or have I missed sumpfink?

    • Ian Magness permalink
      January 22, 2018 11:05 pm

      Maybe the poor lad is confusing Greenland with Iceland which sits on an active tectonic ridge hence the volcanoes. Plenty of heat from the interior there!

      • dave permalink
        January 23, 2018 9:31 am

        There are igneous intrusions into the old, shield rocks, on the East Coast of Greenland. The intrusions are only 55 million years old and not fully cooled. Not all igneous activity occurs at spreading zones.

      • January 23, 2018 10:49 am

        Re ‘confusing Greenland with Iceland’…

        It is confusing – they should be named the other way round.

    • John Atkins permalink
      January 24, 2018 10:48 am

      If ‘scientists’ acknowledge that gravity generates heat why is there not more discussion about the amount of heat generated internally in planets by gravity and possibly other agents. The planets are hot (internally) not because they are still cooling after 4 billion years (as we were told as children) but because gravity generates heat. My guess is that the amount of heat generated is considerable even when compared to incoming solar radiation. Also the amount of heat that leaks to the surface varies widely with time as tectonic plates shift and gaps open and close.

  3. January 22, 2018 10:48 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  4. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 23, 2018 12:50 am

    geology is mainly old shield crystalline

    This does not mean there is no heat there. There is a “geothermal gradient”, but if this study is suggesting it is changing over time at that location they have got more explaining to do. I’ve not read of this work — seems on going.
    A great thickness of ice will (gravity) pull down and the rock below will adjust (see ‘isostasy’). Perhaps a thickening of ice during the LIA caused a delayed response in the geothermal gradient. Or, perhaps, the current research is the first to find such a thing.
    It is not likely to have been caused by my V8 pickup truck.

    • January 23, 2018 12:52 pm

      So! We have a *debate* going here! I watch, I listen, I learn.

      Great pity they don’t have such things happening on the “other” side of the fence. We might all end up learning something!

      Thanks, Paul … and the rest of you!

  5. Broadlands permalink
    January 23, 2018 1:24 am

    But Global “heat”. The 40,000 mile volcano?

    “A main question is to what extent the volcanism changes over time. The old idea was that the eruptions of oozing lava and related activity occurred at fairly steady rates. Now, studies hint at the existence of outbursts large enough to influence not only the character of the global sea but the planet’s temperature. Experts believe the activity may carry major repercussions because the oceanic ridges account for some 70 percent of the planet’s volcanic eruptions. By definition, that makes them enormous sources of heat and exotic minerals as well as such everyday gases as carbon dioxide, which all volcanoes emit.”

    Very little is statistically warmer now than it was in the 1930s and 1920s. There has been a tendency to emphasize satellite data, which was not available back then. Empirical observations and historical data are ignored?

  6. January 23, 2018 3:02 am

    100 megawatts per sq meter is power, not energy. If it occurred as energy (MWhr) during a decade (10 yrs) it would require a power of 1.14 kW/sq meter. I don’t think so!

    • January 23, 2018 6:50 am

      No matter how you try, you cannot get these so-called “scientists” to understand the difference between power and energy. If they had just the slightest understanding, they would realise how ludicrous such an energy flux was. 100MW/m^2 is higher than the amount you get coming from the surface of a nuclear fuel rod.

  7. January 23, 2018 3:12 am

    It’s mW (milliwatt) not MW (megawatt) they are talking about.

    • dave permalink
      January 23, 2018 6:52 pm

      Thanks for the link. All is clear.

      A megawatt is a billion milliwatts. The journos mixing them up – wotta mistaka to maka!

  8. cbr permalink
    January 23, 2018 3:13 am

    10 Mega-watts per square meter??? does anyone actually read this stuff before posting? MSN, Breitbart, you? First, watts is a unit of power, not energy. Second, 10 Mega-watts per square meter is an ENORMOUS heat flux. They must be boiling away the entire ocean. It probably should be 10 MILLI-watts per square meter.

  9. tomo permalink
    January 23, 2018 4:36 am

    100 megawatts per sq m?

  10. Andrew permalink
    January 23, 2018 9:23 am

    Typical! To confuse power with energy and state a figure that, no matter how you try to interpret it, is obviously so high it must be on drugs! It means you can’t trust anything in the article. But it’s the same old problem that they come out with this stuff and large numbers of people take it as gospel.
    Paul does such great work. It’s just such a shame that nobody has the balls to do an equivalent on tv. God knows there’s plenty of material.

    • dave permalink
      January 23, 2018 10:10 am

      It is also hilarious that the journo, or his source, think that A WIND TURBINE’S POWER is the natural unit for measuring heat flows.

  11. Frank Everest permalink
    January 23, 2018 10:04 am

    The surface of the sun probably emits around 100MW/m^2, but I can’t be bothered to do the sums!

    • January 23, 2018 10:16 am

      A back of the envelope sum suggests that the flux from a nuclear fuel rod is a factor 10^5 less than the 100MW/m^2 they claim from the Earth to the fjord.

    • dave permalink
      January 23, 2018 1:36 pm

      If – charitably – we opine that what the researchers actually said was that, through each square meter of fjord bottom, 100 megajoules of heat escaped into the water over ten years, this implies a power of 1/3rd of a watt per square meter . The footling reference to this all being equivalent to a continuous input of 2 megawatts from a wind turbine implies the area studied was 6 square kilometers. So, they looked at a sample of the sea floor measuring 2 x 3 kilometers and estimated that heat was escaping into the water at 1/3rd watt per square meter, all over it. Sounds reasonable. Whether it means anything I could not say.

      • R2Dtoo permalink
        January 23, 2018 4:39 pm

        It might mean something now that we can remotely measure land/water/air global temps to 0.01C/F. sarc

  12. January 23, 2018 11:13 am

    I posted this yesterday in a different article on this site.
    How much of the ocean temperatures are raised by underwater volcanoes and heat tubes from the Earth’s mantle? I’m told these effects are negligible but as no one has yet quantified them how can they know they are negligible?

  13. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 23, 2018 12:26 pm

    Yet still, Greenland is gaining ice.

  14. January 23, 2018 12:51 pm

    And now some words from the other end of the earth. The South Pole’s Antarctica seems to be a bit warm underneath also. And it is causing some of those glaciers to slide along faster to the ocean. Haven’t heard a lot about this in the Mann-caused Global Warming scenario.

    From Anthony Watt in 2008:

    From The Guardian in August, 2017:

  15. arfurbryant permalink
    January 23, 2018 12:55 pm

    So the editor of Breitbart allowed a fairly obvious typo in word three of the headline? Might this be a spoof?

  16. Tom in Oregon City permalink
    January 24, 2018 4:07 pm

    OK, somebody must have reported this wrong, because “100MW / m^2” is a RATE of energy transfer, not an amount of energy transferred. That RATE of power emanating from the core would instantly boil away the water.

  17. Jack Broughton permalink
    January 24, 2018 4:25 pm

    Would recommend the work of prof Wyss Yim of Chinese University of Hong Kong on undersea volcanic eruptions. While on-land the earth’s crust is thick, under much of the ocean it is thin and leaks badly: this is one of the Rumsfeld known-unknowns that could have great effects in arctic regions

  18. M E Emberson permalink
    January 24, 2018 10:25 pm
    Would this be useful?
    a reader in New Zealand where we have continental plates riding over and under adjacent plates , releasing heat.

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