Tag Archives: glaciers

A bullseye on Mars

Layered crater at equator
Click for full image.

Cool image time! In researching my piece last week on the glaciers of Mars I had wanted to include a picture of a typical concentric glacier-filled crater, the most widespread glacial feature on the Martian surface, found in a band at latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees. (You can see the example I found at the link above, near the end of the article.)

To find that picture I searched the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) archive. Among the images I found was a captioned image taken very early in MRO’s mission showing a crater with concentric rings very similar to the concentric glacial-filled craters. The image at the right is that crater, the image reduced and cropped to post here. As described in that caption,
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The glaciers of Mars

The glaciers on Mars

For the future colonists of Mars, the question of finding water will not be that much of a problem. Not only have planetary geologists mapped out the existence of extensive water-ice in the Martian poles, they have found that the planet apparently has widespread glacier deposits in two mid-latitude belts from 30 to 60 degrees latitude.

The question will be whether those Martian settlers will be able to easily access this water. The data so far suggests that much of the Martian underground water at high latitudes is likely mixed with dust and debris. Extracting it might not be straightforward. There are hints that the ice table at latitudes about 55 degrees might be more pure, but could be somewhat deep below ground, requiring the settlers to become miners to obtain their water. Moreover, all these high latitude locations are in environments that are more hostile, and therefore more difficult to establish a colony.

What about the glaciers? The global map of Mars above, reduced and annotated to post here, shows what are believed to be extensive glacial deposits at lower latitudes, and comes from a recently published paper on the subject. The different colors indicate the different types of glacial deposits the scientists have identified.

Green and yellow indicate what scientists call lineated valley fill (LVF) and lobate debris aprons (LDA) respectively, glacial deposits found in the transition zone between the southern highlands and either the northern lowland plains or the basins of the southern hemisphere, Hellas and Argyre. These glaciers are in many ways most similar to glaciers found on Earth, flows heading downhill along natural geographic features.

Magenta represents concentric crater fill (CCF), glacier features which seem very evenly distributed across both the northern and southern lower mid-latitude belts. Here scientists appear to have detected buried ice within the floors of craters.

The paper which included this map focused on describing a new glacial feature, something they dubbed valley fill deposits (VFD), that they had found so far in only one place, as indicated by the black square on the map.

The photograph below and on the right, reduced and cropped to post here, is from figure two of the linked paper.
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Glaciers growing on Greenland

Greenland's growing Jakobshavn Glacier
Click for full image.

Despite what the fake mainstream media and leftist Democratic Party politicians insist on telling us daily, the Greenland icecap remains largely stable, and shows no sign of disappearing anytime in the near future.

The image on the right, reduced to post here, is a series of images produced by radar instruments flown by a NASA airplane over Jakobshavn Glacier during the past three years and released this week by its project scientists. As noted in the release,

These images show the mass Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier has gained from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. Areas with the most growth are shown in dark blue. Red areas represent thinning. The images were produced using GLISTIN-A radar data as part of NASA’s Ocean’s Melting Greenland (OMG) mission.

While this research is absolutely worthwhile, the mission has clearly been shaped by the global warming activism in NASA and the climate science community. Thus, the scientists for this mission are forced to say this on their website:

Humans are changing the climate by burning fossil fuels for energy. These add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which trap extra heat from the sun and warm the air and oceans.

I would bet however that the scientists for this project remain very skeptical about this NASA political statement. That they highlighted here a glacier that is growing, in contradiction to the routine media and activist claims that Greenland’s ice sheet is disappearing, indicates this.

Tony Heller at his climate blog today posted a very good summary of the very stable state of Greenland’s icecap, while also pointing out the dishonest and incompetent reporting about it from mainstream media sources like the Washington Post and Fox News. Check it out. As he concludes:

There has been no trend Arctic sea ice since the start of MASIE records thirteen years ago.

Greenland glaciers are growing. The last two years had near record surface mass gain. The current journalistic standard of cherry picking a day here and there, and then misrepresenting the meaning of it, is journalism at its worst.

The data shows a decline in that icecap in the early part of this century, followed by a significant recovery in the past three years. As he says, there has been no trend.

Be aware of this when ignorant politicians like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) try to tell you we are all going to die of global warming in mere years. These fear-mongers know nothing, and should be laughed from the stage.

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Park Service removes signs saying glaciers to be gone by 2020 and 2030

The National Park Service has finally recognized reality and removed or changed its displays at Glacier National Park that as recently September 2018 had said that the glaciers would be gone by either 2020 and 2030.

At the same time, the park service is still clinging, quite bitterly if you ask me, to its religious faith in global warming, even though the glaciers in the park have not been shrinking at all in recent years.

The National Park Service (NPS) quietly removed a visitor center sign saying the glaciers at Glacier National Park would disappear by 2020 due to climate change.

As it turns out, higher-than-average snowfall in recent years upended computer model projections from the early 2000s that NPS based its claim glaciers “will all be gone by the year 2020,” federal officials said.

“Glacier retreat in Glacier National Park speeds up and slows down with fluctuations in the local climate,” the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which monitors Glacier National Park, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Those signs were based on the observation prior to 2010 that glaciers were shrinking more quickly than a computer model predicted they would,” USGS said. “Subsequently, larger than average snowfall over several winters slowed down that retreat rate and the 2020 date used in the NPS display does not apply anymore.”

NPS updated signs at the St. Mary Visitor Center glacier exhibit over the winter. Sign changes meant the display warning glaciers would all disappear by 2020 now says: “When they completely disappear, however, will depend on how and when we act.” [emphasis mine]

The highlighted text illustrates the political agenda of the park service, something they have no mandate to have.

If you want to see how stupid the signage was, read my report when Diane and I visited Glacier in summer of 2017. As I wrote then,

The park’s sloppiness and political posturing here however does serve to produce one good, though certainly unintended, result. It helps to discredit the National Park Service’s global-warming activism, which hasn’t been based on good science for quite awhile. It will also help to raise the skepticism of ordinary park visitors, who will either notice the contradictions, or laugh at the absurdity of the prediction that the glaciers will vanish only three years hence.

I guess the park service finally got tired of dealing with the ridicule.

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Argentine scientist indicted for creating census of glaciers

An Argentinian scientist has been indicted on criminal charges for the standard manner in which he designed Argentine’s glacier census.

The lawsuit was filed by a grassroots group after the Veladero mine in northwestern Argentina spilled cyanide into the Jáchal watershed in September 2015. Another spill in the same area occurred this past September.

[Ricardo] Villalba, who led the National Institute of Snow, Ice and Environmental Research (IANIGLA) in Mendoza from 2005 to 2015, launched Argentina’s first comprehensive glacier inventory in 2012. Based on satellite images, the inventory set a minimum glacier size of 1 hectare. “The process of making that inventory wasn’t unusual. That size cutoff is standard practice,” says Bruce Raup of the University of Colorado in Boulder, who is also director of the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space project, an international glacier monitoring project. Argentina’s inventory includes 30 ice masses covering about 400 hectares in the Veladero area, Villalba says.

The indictment argues that the 1-hectare limit and the lack of an on-site inspection led to “the exclusion—and resulting lack of protection—of many bodies of ice” around Veladero that should have been considered priorities because of their importance as water sources.

I would say that this is an example of the dog biting the hand that feeds it. The article notes that Villalba is “sympathic” to the activists who filed the lawsuit. They however don’t care about that. They instead want to use his research and the law to distort how glacier research is done in order to gain power over water use that actually has little if anything to do with glaciers.

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Global warming and Glacier National Park

One of the main activities for almost everyone visiting Glacier National Park is to drive across the park on Going-to-the-Sun Road, which crosses the mountains and probably has some of the most spectacular scenery of any road in the United States. During our visit this week we entered the park from the west side, spent several days there hiking trails, then took this road across to the east side, where we did more hiking.

The highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road is Logan Pass. The park service has built a visitor center there, where everyone stops to do a short hike and admire the views. The trail head for the more challenging Highline Trail, which we did soon after arrival, is also here.

Outside the Logan Pass visitor center are a variety of displays. One focused on the changing environment at Glacier, and not surprisingly, it made a point of talking about the documented shrinkage of the glaciers during the past century. Below is an image of the pertinent quote from that display:

Display outside Logan Pass visiter center

When I saw this I was quite amused. The glaciers in the park are expected to be gone in only three more years, by 2020? Not a chance. I thought, they are going to have to change this sign soon. In fact, based on my experience with past failed global warming predictions, I was actually surprised they had let this display stay there this long, and hadn’t already made it vanish to be replaced with a new doomsday prediction that was far enough in the future that they could use if for awhile to generate new fear (and funding) before it too turned out to be wrong.

Anyway, in driving east and down from Logan Point, Diane and I eventually reached the east entrance to the park, where there was another visitor center. Like Logan Pass, this center also had a collection of outdoor displays, with one display once again focused on the park’s changing environment. Below is the pertinent quote from that display:
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A glacier on Mars

A glacier on Mars

Cool image time! The image on the right, cropped and reduced in resolution, is a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter picture taken on March 28, 2016 of a glacial flow coming down off of mountains in Mars’ northern mid-latitudes. The mountains are to the south and beyond the bottom right. The flow is to the northwest. The full image can be found here. As noted on the image site,

These flow-like structures were previously called “lobate debris aprons,” but the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument on [Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter] has shown that they are actually debris-covered flows of ice, or glaciers. There is no evidence for present-day flow of these glaciers, so they appear to be remnants of past climates.

Need I say it? This is water, on Mars, and in abundance. Think that this might be good real estate when those first settlers arrive?

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Largest glacier calving event ever filmed

An evening pause. Hat tip Phill Oltmann. I had sworn I had posted this already, but now can’t find it on BtB. And even if I have posted it, it is worth watching again. My only comment is that I am baffled by the film’s description of the event as “horrifying.” I don’t find this natural event horrifying, I find it awe-inspiring. It reminds us that the scale of the universe if far far beyond anything we can imagine.

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Finding caves on Mars

A new study of pits on Mars has isolated one particular type of pit that has all the features of an Earth-like cave entrance, with a large number located in the regions around the giant volcanoes where evidence of past glacier activity has been found. From the abstract:

These Atypical Pit Craters (APCs) generally have sharp and distinct rims, vertical or overhanging walls that extend down to their floors, surface diameters of ~50–350 m, and high depth to diameter (d/D) ratios that are usually greater than 0.3 (which is an upper range value for impacts and bowl-shaped pit craters) and can exceed values of 1.8. Observations by the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) show that APC floor temperatures are warmer at night and fluctuate with much lower diurnal amplitudes than nearby surfaces or adjacent bowl-shaped pit craters.

In other words, these pits are deeper with steeper and overhanging walls that suggest underlying passages. They also maintain warmer temperatures at night with their day/night temperatures changing far less than the surface, similar to caves on Earth where the cave temperature remains the same year-round.

The study’s most important finding, from my perspective, was the location of these pit craters.
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The hidden glaciers of Mars

The glaciers belts of Mars

Scientists, using computer models and radar data obtained in orbit, have detected large belts of glaciers in Mars’ upper middle latitudes, buried beneath a layer of dust.

Several satellites orbit Mars and on satellite images, researchers have been able to observe the shape of glaciers just below the surface. For a long time scientists did not know if the ice was made of frozen water (H2O) or of carbon dioxide (CO2) or whether it was mud.

Using radar measurements from the NASA satellite, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, researchers have been able to determine that is water ice. But how thick was the ice and do they resemble glaciers on Earth? A group of researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have now calculated this using radar observations combined with ice flow modelling.

The press release has one typo that is important. The belts appear to be located between 30-50 degrees latitude, not 300-500 (the degree sign became a 0 by mistake).

It is important to recognize the uncertainty of this discovery. Orbital images have seen features that suggest glaciers. The evidence that it is water-ice and that the water-ice is still largely present comes from the computer models. Computer models are notorious for seeing things that end up not being there.

Nonetheless, this result is important. It is further strong evidence that Mars still contains a lot of water locked in its immediate subsurface, where future colonists can mine it and use it to survive and build their homes.

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India extends Mangalyaan’s mission by six months

Western slopes of Arsia Mons

Having successfully completed its nominal six month mission and continuing to operate perfectly, ISRO has extended the mission of India’s Mangalyaan Mars orbiter for another six months.

Take a gander at the images the orbiter has been sending down. Quite impressive. The cropped image on the right shows the western slopes of the giant volcano Arsia Mons, with white water vapor hovering above those slopes. (Click on the image for the full resolution version.) The water vapor is significant because scientists believe that this region once had many glaciers, and that much of that water is still present and trapped below the surface as ice, possibly in many of the caves that are there. The vapor’s presence, a routine occurance here, strengthens this theory.

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Glaciers on Mars!

A geological study of orbital images of Gale Crater has led scientists to conclude that the crater was once covered in glaciers.

To carry out the study, the team has used images captured with the HiRISE and CTX cameras from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, together with the HRSC onboard the Mars Express probe managed by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Analyses of the photographs have revealed the presence of concave basins, lobated structures, remains of moraines and fan-shaped deposits which point to the existence of ancient glaciers on Gale. In fact they seem to be very similar to some glacial systems observed on present-day Earth. “For example, there is a glacier on Iceland –known as Breiðamerkurjökull– which shows evident resemblances to what we see on Gale crater, and we suppose that is very similar to those which covered Gale’s central mound in the past,” says Fairén.

This is not the first place on Mars where scientists believe glaciers once flowed. The northwestern slopes of Arsia Mons, one of Mars’s giant volcanoes in the Tharsis Bulge, is also believed to have once harbored glaciers.

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For the past four years the glaciers in Glacier National Park have stopped shrinking.

The uncertainty of science: For the past four years the glaciers in Glacier National Park have stopped shrinking.

“We had this sort of pause,” Fagre said of shrinking at Sperry Glacier and, by extrapolation, other glaciers. “They pretty much got as much snow as they needed.” Sperry covered 0.86 square kilometers in 2005, 0.83 in 2009 and 0.82 in 2013, illustrating the “pause” in its retreat as there was a 0.03 square kilometer loss from 2005 to 2009, but only 0.01 in the last four years, from 2009 to 2013, Fagre said.

The article spends a lot of time talking about how the shrinkage is about to resume and the glaciers are certain to disappear, but this pause in glacier shrinkage corresponds nicely with the 17 plus year pause in warming that has been going on.

And then there’s this: Great moments in climate forecasting.

And this, also from Steve Goddard: In 1971 the world’s top climate scientists said fossil fuels would cause an ice age by 2020.

I especially like the quote from the last article, where these experts say that there is “no need to worry about the carbon dioxide fuel-burning puts in the atmosphere.” These are the same experts who have have spent the past three decades since 1988 telling us that CO2-caused global warming was going to kill us all.

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Are the glaciers in the Himalayas shrinking? A third paper published today falls between one study that said no and another that said yes.

The uncertainty of science: Are the glaciers in the Himalayas shrinking? A third paper published today falls between one study that said no and another that said yes.

The new estimate raises further questions about satellite and field measurements of alpine glaciers, and ”will set the cat among the pigeons,” says Graham Cogley, a remote-sensing expert at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. … Although the ICESat results show twice as much ice loss as the re-interpreted GRACE data, this figure is still three times lower than regional losses estimated on the basis of field studies.

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A new study suggests that the glaciers in the Himalayas are shrinking, with different regions shrinking much faster than others.

The uncertainty of science: A new study suggests that the glaciers in the Himalayas are shrinking, with different regions shrinking much faster than others.

This study both supplements and contrasts other work which suggested that the western Himalayan glaciers were not shrinking.

It is interesting that the article above does not give any specifics on the rate of shrinkage, other than to say it is getting faster in some areas. Instead, the focus of this work centers more on the discovery that India’s monsoon winds have a significant influence on glacier growth or retreat.

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A new study has found that the glaciers of Greenland are not behaving as predicted.

The uncertainty of science: A new study has found that the glaciers of Greenland are not behaving as predicted.

In northwestern Greenland, for example, where most of the glaciers move relatively quickly and flow directly into the sea rather than ending on land, average speed jumped by 8% between 2000 and 2005 and rose another 18% from 2005 to 2010. Nevertheless, the researchers report online today in Science, the glaciers in this region showed no uniform pattern of acceleration. About one-third flowed at the same rate throughout the decade, one-fourth slowed during the interval, and about 15% slowed during the first half of the decade and then surged from 2005 to 2010.

Similarly, many of the individual glaciers in southeastern Greenland don’t follow the region’s overall trend. Although the average speeds for these glaciers increased by 28% over the decade, substantial accelerations by some glaciers were balanced by considerable slowing by others. About 43% of the glaciers in the region sped up between 2000 and 2005, but around 25% slowed down by more than 15% from 2005 to 2010.

In other words, if there is any warming, it hasn’t manifested itself in a predictable manner in the glaciers of Greenland. In fact, the data above suggests instead that if there has been any warming, it either has been far less than predicted, or has had relatively little influence on the Greenland ice sheet.

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The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows

The uncertainty of science: New satellite data shows that the glaciers in the Himalayas have lost no ice in past 10 years.

The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges – sometimes dubbed the “third pole” – are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate.

Is this further confirmation that global warming stopped ten years ago? Not really. As the report notes, the time period is too short to establish a clear trend. Moreover, this study only deals with the Asian glaciers, which is also too small a sample for any firm conclusions.

Nonetheless, the data does illustrate once again how complex and uncertain the study of the Earth’s climate is. Anyone who claims we know what is really happening is either refusing to look at all the data or is simply lying.

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The state of the Himalayan glaciers

A new study of the glaciers of the Himalayas by the Indian Space Research Organization and the Geological Survey of India has found that, based on satellite data, 2184 were retreating, 435 were advancing, and 148 showed no change.

It is refreshing that the scientists and politicians involved in India refused to cite global warming as a cause, referring instead to the “natural cyclic process”. As India’s former environment minister Jairam Ramesh noted, “There is no doubt that the general health of the Himalayan glaciers is worsening, but the truth is incredibly complex.”

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New research finds that the Himalayan glaciers are not melting

New research finds that the Himalayan glaciers are not melting. Key quote:

The new study by scientists at the Universities of California and Potsdam has found that half of the glaciers in the Karakoram range, in the northwestern Himlaya, are in fact advancing and that global warming is not the deciding factor in whether a glacier survives or melts.

The last part of the above quote, on global warming, is almost certainly an overstatement of what we do or don’t know. Warming will cause glaciers to melt, but how much and when are factors that are still not understood. Moreover, we are still not sure how much warming has even occurred.

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