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Greenland Glaciers Growing Again

May 22, 2019

By Paul Homewood



European satellites have detailed the abrupt change in behaviour of one of Greenland’s most important glaciers.

In the 2000s, Jakobshavn Isbrae was the fastest flowing ice stream on the island, travelling at 17km a year.

As it sped to the ocean, its front end also retreated and thinned, dropping in height by as much as 20m year.

But now it’s all change. Jakobshavn is travelling much more slowly, and its trunk has even begun to thicken and lengthen.

"It’s a complete reversal in behaviour and it wasn’t predicted," said Dr Anna Hogg from Leeds University and the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM).

"The question now is: what’s next for Jakobshavn? Is this just a pause, or is it a switch-off of the dynamic thinning we’ve seen previously?"

The rapid flow, thinning and retreat of Jakobshavn’s front end in the mid to late 2000s were probably driven by warm ocean water from Disko Bay getting into the fjord and attacking the glacier from below.

The phase change, scientists think, may be related to very cold weather in 2013. This would have resulted in less meltwater coming off the glacier, which in turn might have choked the mechanism that pulls warm ocean water towards Jakobshavn.

"Fjord overturning, the circulation that draws warm ocean water in from Disko Bay to melt the glacier at its base is, in part, forced by surface melting on the Greenland Ice Sheet. If you don’t get a lot of fresh, cold meltwater going into the fjord, this circulation is weaker," said Dr Hogg.

“All this is a reminder of how unpredictable glaciers can be," she told BBC News. "We didn’t predict this change in behaviour, and if Jakobshavn does start thinning and retreating again – we can’t predict when that will happen.

"The rate of sea-level contribution from Greenland has slowed in recent years and it’s because some of the biggest ice evacuators like Jakobshavn aren’t contributing as much as they used to."


It is nice to know that these scientists admit they can’t predict what is going on!

And if Jonathan Amos had bothered reading this blog, he would have already known that most of Greenland’s glaciers stopped retreating six years ago. As I noted in March, DMI’s annual Polar Portal report for 2018 stated:

glaciers have continued the development seen during the last six years in which they have more or less maintained their area



 Satellite monitoring of Greenland’s glaciers only began in 1999, so we have no idea of what went on before then, and whether recent trends are in any way unusual.


The full report from DMI makes clear that there has only been a minor loss in glaciers’ area since 2012/13, and that there was even a small overall increase last year:





Bear in mind as well that the surface mass of the Greenland ice sheet has been growing at close to record levels for the past two years:




As DMI explain, the total ice sheet balance depends on both the SMB and glacial melting/calving:




As the SMB has been increasing whilst glacier area has remained fairly stable in the last few years, it means that the Greenland ice sheet has actually been growing in recent years.


I can guarantee you won’t hear that from the BBC!

  1. May 22, 2019 2:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science and commented:
    The fake science by BBC,CNN or Spiegel is not fooling the people.

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    May 22, 2019 3:14 pm

    “It’s a complete reversal in behaviour and it wasn’t predicted,” said Dr Anna Hogg

    I’ll fix that for her:
    It’s a complete reversal in behaviour and I had a CO2 fixation and lost my scientific training.

    There, that’s more clear.

    • Tom O permalink
      May 22, 2019 4:55 pm

      I wonder if she has learned anything from this “unpredicted event” that goes hand in hand with all the other “unpredicted events,” like maybe there is something wrong with the computer programs? Probably not.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        May 23, 2019 1:52 pm

        Settled science anyone?

  3. May 22, 2019 4:33 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  4. johnbillscott permalink
    May 22, 2019 5:25 pm

    Sorta rubbishes the Beeb Judgement Day prognostication of a couple of days ago.

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 22, 2019 6:00 pm

    Anyone able to sneak along to this tomorrow at 9 a.m. in Portcullis House?

    The height of unrealism should be highly amusing.

  6. May 22, 2019 7:06 pm

    Not just Greenland…Iceland too.

    According to researchers at the University of Iceland, each of the country’s glaciers will expand this year for the first time in the past 25 years.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      May 23, 2019 1:55 pm

      You would almost think it was getting colder as 3.4 inches of snow fell on Denver on Tuesday, the most snow this late since 1975, but according to the Denver Post this was just a dusting……

  7. Ian Youles permalink
    May 23, 2019 1:29 am

    As usual, what happens in the bedrock below the ice gets no mention. The deep ice cores show the basal intervals are contorted and sometimes inverted due to heat from igneous activity. As is well known in volcanic regions, this heat flow waxes and wanes. Heat from below must affect the overlying ice.

  8. May 23, 2019 2:45 am

    As you have stated the ice has been returning for awhile.I just listened to a retired Federal Canadian employee on the Heartland Institute about the amount of funding that has been coming into Canada from around the world .These green groups are trying to stop fossil fuel development in order to promote green energy. Most all the wind projects come from Germany. Solar is form South Korea. I am thinking the UK is having the same problem with the climate alarmists.. You should read and listen to Heartland Institute. Another good one is Dr Susan Crockford Polar Bear Science and John Christy University of Alabama.
    It is becoming obvious that the climate change alarmists are porn science. The UN is just trying to get money from the developed countries. Mean while China is building 300 more new coal fired plants world wide.Can you people do some research in the UK and get a rebuttal going on the climate change alarmists.Canada follows , so if a movement starts in the Uk , CANADA will pay attention. I think the trick is to get a handle on the amount of money the green organizations are getting. It could be coming from your own government as is partly happening in Canada . The cost to our standard of livings is huge.

  9. W A R permalink
    May 23, 2019 4:10 am

    And you won’t hear it from the closed mind New Zealand web site Stuff. They refuse to publish anything that remotely resembles a contradiction to man-made global warming. Mind you the Minister is just as narrow-minded.

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