Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Greenland ice cap looses 1/3 the volume of Lake Erie EVERY YEAR! That means...

...that it will be gone in 12,500 years.

Read 'On Being the Wrong Size' from Watts Up With That? by Willis Eschenbach.

The gist... (for those of you who only like 'clicky' enough to get this far...) Facts such as the title are worthless without scale.

If you read this article from the Grist (the gist from the Grist, I'll be here all day), it reports how much mass the Greenland ice cap is losing annually.

Scott Luthcke weighs Greenland -- every 10 days. And the island has been losing weight, an average of 183 gigatons (or 200 cubic kilometers) -- in ice -- annually during the past six years. That's one third the volume of water in Lake Erie every year.


The good news for Luthcke is that a separate team using an entirely different method has come up with measurements of Greenland's melting ice that, he says, are almost identical to his GRACE data. The bad news, of course, is that both sets of measurements make it all the more certain that Greenland's ice is melting faster than anyone expected.

[highlights by me]

Holy crap that is a lot! Lake Erie (huge) would be drained in three years at that rate!

One problem... I see no mention of the size of Greenlands ice cap. (See 'On Being the Wrong Size'.) If you compare the rate of loss to that you find out that the GIC is losing 0.005% to 0.008% of its mass a year. At this rate, Greenland will be ice free in.... wait for it... 12,500 years!

A little more scale for you, 8000 years ago we were coming out of the Stone Age.

An a little more scale yet (with pun), I need to lose some weight. At this rate, it will take me over 50 years to lose A POUND!

Of course, those numbers aren't as alarming...

Like Mr. Eschenbach, the writer of 'On Being the Wrong Size', this greatly annoys me. Why does everything have to be reported in this way? The statement, "...losing 1/3 the volume of Lake Erie" is no different number-wise than " will disappear in 12,500 years".


The good news is, today with the inet, I can find out the big picture sitting here in my underwear with my coffee. Wasn't really that convenient back in the day. Libraries frowned upon guys that needed to lose weight drinking coffee in their underwear while browsing.

The bad news, very few people seem to do that.

BTW, Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume. If he had used 'the' great lake, Lake Superior, the ice cap would be losing 1/75 of its volume a year. Again, that doesn't sound as scary.


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