Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Global warming is causing Europe's glaciers to retreat by hundreds of feet a year (?)
The article below is a bit of a mish-mash. It reports glacier retreat from 1850 and then skips to the year 2015. It is true that there has been some warming since 1850 so some retreat due to that might be expected. And it is true that 2015 was an anomalously hot year.
But other details are omitted. The fact that Hannibal walked elephants over the Alps in the Roman warm period -- where glaciers are now -- suggests that glacial fluctuations are a natural phenomenon and that warming does not have to be anthropogenic.
And something that is admitted below is not properly confronted. It is admitted that glacial retreat is partly due to reduced precipitation. In fact, the global temperature changes have been so small that precipitation has to bear the main burden of explanation.
But what does reduced precipitation imply? COOLING. A warmer world would evaporate more water off the oceans, which would come down again as rain/snow. So it is clearly regional COOLING that lies behind shrinkage of Alpine glaciers. The authors have just not thought through the cause of the reduced precipitation that they admit. To get reduced precipitation during warming would be anomalous
It is the longest glacier in the Eastern Alps, weaving through the scoured valley beneath Austria's highest mountain. But the Pasterze glacier, near Heiligenblut at the Grossglockner in Austria's High Tauern mountain range, is a shadow of its former self, having diminished by half in the past 150 years.
The retreat of this once mighty glacier is being repeated across Europe where the vast majority have lost approximately two thirds of their volume since 1850.
Scientists blame rising temperatures due to global warming for the increased melting of these rivers of frozen water that have helped to grind out the Alps' dramatic landscape since the last ice age.
In Austria glaciers retreated an average of 72 feet in 2015 – more than twice the rate of the previous year – with 96 per cent of the country's 92 major glaciers receding.
The Austrian Alpine Association's annual glacier survey showed that three of the country's glaciers retreated by more than 320 feet.
Warm summer temperatures have been compounded by poor winter snowfall in recent years.
According to the survey the Pasterz retreated by 177 feet in 2015 while the Hornkees in the Zillertal Alps retreated by 446 feet last year.
The Mittlerer Guslarferner in the Otztal Alps of Austria has shown a particularly rapid disintegration into four parts since 2003.
Dr Andrea Fischer, a glaciologist and head of the Aplenverein-Glacier Monitoring Service, said: 'Summer 2015 was warmer by more than 2°C above the long term average.
'Long lasting anticyclones and the lack of summer snowfall, these are the ingredients for a much too warm measuring year and therefore reason for the current glaciers declines.'