Wednesday February 17, 2010 | Arctic Ice Studies

February 16, 2010 at 10:11 am | Posted in Coming Up | 23 Comments

Our guest today spends most of his time studying the coldest climates on earth but his research has to do with warming trends. Dr. Walt Meier is a research scientist who studies arctic ice sheets and sea ice to learn what the changes there may be telling us about the environment. Dr. Meier will share what he has learned about the arctic ice and about the arctic world in general when he joins us.
Dr. Walt Meier
– Research Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado in Boulder

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  1. Please comment on the glaciers that are growing such as: Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier; Norwegian glaciers: Canada’s Mount Logan, Mt. St. Helens: Glaciers in New Zealand, France and Switzerland: and many others.

    Now we’ve also learned that the IPCC’s claim of the Himilayen Glaciers shrinking is untrue.

    • how do u measure a glacier’s height? let me guess a satellite

  2. I’m sure you will touch on it but here is a reminder of scandals concerning global warming.

  3. Is the sea level actually rising now? Why not? Aren’t the populations of polar bears increasing?

    Climate scientist Phil Jones has now said the earth hasn’t warmed since 1995. He knew it, he hid it.

    • let’s ask the alaskian expert Sarah! she seas all, knows all, and tweets too… .

  4. I can’t type fast enough. Great question Mike about how to make us believe. We know to this point the evidence has been cooked to make the case.

    • don’t confuse me with your facts — my minds made up

  5. commenting on the global warming issue, here are two thoughts. first, no one seems to get the message out from the scientific community about sea rise and the physics of water expansion. we keep focusing on greenland’s melt. water expands as it heats and is a far more powerful sea raising effect than ice melt. if the ocean mean temperature increases by 2 degrees we get over a hundred feet of sea level rise. that’s the real driver in my mind, but no one explains it to the average person.

    two, take the human population in 1850 burning fossil fuels and wood, then take the current 6 billion person population. that’s more than a three fold increase in the number of people burning fossil and wood fuels every day! now add the modern effect of auto transport and the electrical grid to that, and tell me we can’t, as a population, explain the amount of C02 increase in the atmosphere? look at the graph of C02 in the atmosphere over those years and just watch the levels rise. if you factor in deforestation and ocean destruction {biomass loss) that are systems that remove C02, we have more input and less output. it doesnt take a rocket scientist to explain the problem; it takes a great communicator.

    • Why haven’t sea levels gone up if the glaciers are melting?

      • how does an expert measure the rise of sea levels?

  6. Hubbard Glacier flows off the Fairweather Mountains of Alaska & the Yukon, which also feed the glaciers of Glacier Bay National Park. The Kuroshio Current is a is a river of warm ocean water that flows from the tropical western Pacific Ocean eastward along the coast of Alaska, analogous to the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream. A warmer Kuroshio Current results in more evaporation, and as this wet air rises over the Fairweather Mountains, which are 11,000 – 13,000 above sea level, more snow falls, resulting in locally larger glaciers. More info can be found at Glacier Bay National Parks research website

    • Thank you Shepard.

      • I just want to make sure I understand. Global warming is causing some glaciers to grow and some to shrink? If the globe was cooling, would the cooler Kuroshio Current result is less snow and Hubbard Glacier shrinking while others grew?

        In summary: Global warming and cooling each cause glaciers to grow and shrink…not necessarily respectively.

  7. You’re welcome Gregg. Yes, records show that by far most glaciers have been shrinking due to global warming since the beginning of the industrial revolution. European scientists have documented this in the Alps for centuries. Glacier National Park is a good example of this very pointed trend. In 1850, Glacier Park had 150 glaciers. Today there are 26. If you want to see them, you had better visit before the end of the decade, when they predicted to have melted.

    So the thing to keep in mind is that while the planet is in fact heating, climate is complex, and local conditions may cause counterintutive effects, such as that part of eastern Alaska. And yes, in your scenario, a cooling planet would likely mean less snow on the Fairweathers & Hubbard glacier, but here I am just speculating.

    Climate change, while scary, is fascinating.

    By the way, if the globe heats enough, the Gulf Stream could shut down. Another paradox, since this is what keeps western Europe temperate; denied the large amount of warming water, this region would cool.

    Sometimes from our local perspectives it is hard to see the big picture. Our winter here on the east coast is one for the record books, but climate change is the big picture.

    I visited Alaska a couple of years ago, and the evidence there is really impossible to deny.

    • Shepard,

      I really do appreciate the response. It’s my nature to be skeptical so allow me to play devil’s advocate.

      I found out about Hubbard Glacier from this link which list 11 others. Don’t be distracted by the name of the site, the information is sourced.

      When you write, “…records show that by far most glaciers have been shrinking due to global warming…” flags go up for me. I read your link and realize citing studies may be beyond the scope of this discussion. Still, were those records based on anything from the discredited IPCC or possibly the CRU at East Anglia? Does “due to global warming” mean man has caused it? Is there any entity that is or can keep track of every glacier or iceberg on earth?

      The other thing is in regards to your statement, “the planet is in fact heating”. Climate scientist Phil Jones is now saying that there has been no “statistically significant” warming since 1995. Your link said heating was peaking. Maybe it peaked. Phil Jones is at the epicenter of the data that so much “science” is based. Here’s the story.

      I don’t doubt that changes are taking place. I don’t doubt that man can in some way affect the temperature. I just don’t believe the doom and gloom because it always sells. The glaciers will still be there in a decade. If not, they’ll be back at sometime, someplace with or without man. Always have.

  8. I believe we’re drastically changing our environment in many ways that we have no idea how they’re going to affect us. But, in the end, nothing will happen, no one will do anything.

    Mankind will adapt to the pollution and environment until we ourselves cease to exist. It’s our destiny… we, as a species, don’t have the intelligence or the maturity to take care of our planet or ourselves.

    • I disagree that if one questions the science that has been now discredited it automatically means more pollution. Everyone wants a clean, safe earth.

      • “Everyone” may want a “clean, safe earth”, but few will want to do the hard work, and make the sacrifices it will take… and of course, there’s the Almightly Dollar, which will take priority, even over life.

        Pollution is real and is happening now and probably more serious than either of us imagine. When you have things like animals changing sexes, or losing the ability to have normal offspring, that’s a warning to the food chain above it… namely us.

        Humans are great problem solvers, but we’re pretty terrible at long-range planning or thought, we’re always looking for the easy, or cheap way out, even if it’s only for short term benefit.

      • I may be mistaken but I am pretty sure the air (in America) is cleaner now than in the 70’s despite growing populations and industries. That’s not to say things can’t get better.

        I suspect by “hard work” you mean roll back our standard of living. If we are to do that the debate should be honest and the evidence clear. Neither are true.

        The “almighty dollar” works both ways. Algore has become very very wealthy from selling fear.

      • Please don’t assume you know me and that I want our standard-of-living to be rolled back. I said nothing of the sort. It would appear by your comments, you’re getting your talking points from sources that probably have their own agenda themselves. You do yourself a disservice by not researching other sources. But, I think you already have made up your mind about the whole matter, and seek out sources to prove your point.

        Have a nice day!

      • You got me dead wrong Mr. Paxon. I get my news from a very wide variety of sources that’s why I listen to NPR. I would never choose to be wrong in the name of ideology. If I am shown to be wrong I am grateful to be corrected no matter the politics. I have given explanation and links to buttress my claims. You have not. You have not even addressed them. If you want to instead attack me by saying I’m close minded and can’t think on my own without being fed talking points then that’s fine. It doesn’t bother me, I expect that sort of thing from this blog. You are the one making assumptions.

        I said “I suspect” not “I assume”. If I was wrong I apologize. Let me clarify. There most certainly is a green faction that wants us to drive smaller more dangerous cars. They’d like it even better if we all rode mass transit and didn’t drive at all. They want draconian regulations on industries that we depend on like the coal industry. We should turn down our thermostats. We should not fly as often. There’s more, and in fact it is the unavoidable result of trying to switch from fossil fuels at this time. Oil is the engine that drives the world economy. It is directly related to our standard of living.

        Since that dynamic does indeed exist I suspected that’s what you meant by “hard work”. So correct me what do you mean by hard work?

        Here’s something else I suspect: you won’t respond. You’ll probably tell yourself that I’m just a partisan hack and not worth your time but in truth you’ve painted yourself into a corner.

        I very much would like to be wrong and hope you do respond to the issues and enlighten me.

      • Mr. Paxton,

        Here’s an actual example of the accusation you leveled at me.

        “But, I think you already have made up your mind about the whole matter, and seek out sources to prove your point.”

        The 2007 IPCC report, which NASA and so many other entities relied on, had to look hard to find data that matched their desirous results.

        Claims based on information in press releases and newsletters. New examples of statements based on student dissertations, two of which were unpublished. More claims which were based on reports produced by environmental pressure groups.

        Here’s the story

  9. Greg,
    I too appreciate your interest in this subject. I think it is important to discuss the subject of global warming & climate change honestly and openly with people, especially if you hold different ideas. However, right now I am very busy at work, and will try to get back to you later.

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