By Paul Homewood
Ten years ago, the Guardian warned us that Greenland would have passed a tipping point by now, with the whole ice sheet due to disappear by the end of the century:
The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today.
Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University
“Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive,” Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland’s ice sheet.
The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23ft (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish.
“What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done,” he said.
Speaking by phone, Alley was addressing a briefing held by the House of Representatives committee on energy independence and global warming.
Greenland is losing ice mass at an increasing rate, dumping more icebergs into the ocean because of warming temperatures, he said.
The stark warning was underlined by the momentous break-up of one of Greenland’s largest glaciers last week, which set a 100 sq mile chunk of ice drifting into the North Strait between Greenland and Canada.
The briefing also noted that the last six months had set new temperature records.
Robert Bindschadler, a research scientist at the University of Maryland, told the briefing: “While we don’t believe it is possible to lose an ice sheet within a decade, we do believe it is possible to reach a tipping point in a few decades in which we would lose the ice sheet in a century.”
The ice loss from the Petermann Glacier was the largest such event in nearly 50 years, although there have been regular and smaller “calvings”.
How did that work out then?
The article was written in 2010, which was the warmest on record. Since then, however, Greenland’s temperatures have returned to normal, and are no higher than they were in the 1930s.
Far from being the start of a new trend, 2010 was simply an outlier:
The Peterman Glacier is still more or less in the same position as it was ten years ago:
And DMI report that, despite a slight dip last year, Greenland’s major glaciers stopped retreating seven years ago:
And climate scientists wonder why they are a laughing stock!