Humans to blame for melting glaciers

Study links man to rapidly-shrinking formations.
Associated Press
Aug 15, 2014

More than two-thirds of the recent rapid melting of the world's glaciers can be blamed on humans, a new study finds.

Scientists looking at glacier melt since 1851 didn't see a human fingerprint until about the middle of the 20th century. Even then only one-quarter of the warming wasn't from natural causes.

But since 1991, about 69 percent of the rapidly increasing melt was man-made, said Ben Marzeion, a climate scientist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

"Glaciers are really shrinking rapidly now," he said. "I think it's fair to say most of it is man-made."

Scientists fault global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas as well as changes in land use near glaciers and soot pollution. Glaciers in Alaska and the Alps in general have more human-caused melting than the global average, Marzeion said.

The study is published Thursday in the journal Science.

The research is the first to calculate just how much of the glacial melting can be attributed to people and "the jump from about a quarter to roughly 70 percent of total glacier mass loss is significant and concerning," said University of Alaska Fairbanks geophysicist Regine Hock, who wasn't part of the study.

Over the last two decades, about 295 billion tons of ice is melting each year on average due to human causes and about 130 billion tons  a year are melting because of natural causes, Marzeion calculated.

Glaciers alone add to about four-tenths of an inch of sea level rise every decade, along with even bigger increases from melting ice sheets — which are different than glaciers — and the expansion of water with warmer temperatures.

Marzeion and colleagues ran multiple computer simulations to see how much melting there would be from all causes and then did it again to see how much melting there would be if only natural causes were included. The difference is what was caused by humans.

Scientists aren't quite certain what natural causes started glaciers shrinking after the end of the Little Ice Age in the middle of the 19th century, but do know what are human-causes: climate change, soot, and local changes in land use.

There is a sizable margin of error so the 69 percent human caused can be as low as 45 percent or as high as 93 percent, but likely in the middle.

"This study makes perfect sense," said Pennsylvania State University glacier expert Richard Alley, who wasn't part of the research. "The authors have quantified what I believe most scientists would have expected."

Not all of the human-caused melting is from global warming from the burning of fossil fuels, but climate change is the biggest factor, said Ted Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The study showed that it took time for global warming and other factors to build up and cause melting. That lag effect means the world is already locked into more rapid melting from the warming that has already occurred, Marzeion and Alley said.

 

Comments

knowitall

Republicans say the liberals want to take your guns. Well, the republicans want to take your social security and Medicare.

The Big Dog's back

You're absolutely right.

grumpy

"Republicans say the liberals want to take your guns. Well, the republicans want to take your social security and Medicare."

It ain't "your" medicare nor "your social security. If it was yours it would be in "your" name. it is the government's medicare and social security. They hold the money, they tell you how much, when, where, how, and if, they allow you to have any. If it was "yours", you could do with it as you please.

My investments and health insurance are mine, and when or if I die they go to whom I wish them to go to. When you die "your" government social security and medicare go to the gov't... except for a small stipend from SS to your family.

I don't care what happens to "your" gov't medicare or social security...I saved enough to not need it to live on, and my kids won't have either by the time they are old enough to receive it... due to gov't mismanagement.

knowitall

If it makes you feel better, let me rephrase my comments. "Republicans want to reduce or eliminate the the amount of benefits that they will give you." Is that better? It gives the government it's due.
Shame on you for not giving a sh_t about others who rely on social security and Medicare. That is just the way you republicans are.......not caring about anyone but yourselves. I don't know what kind of job you had that allows you to live the rest of your life without having to pay for medical insurance. But many don't have it while working and most don't have it in retirement unless you work for the government. One major health problem will take away most of a persons savings. So, thank the democrats for Medicare.
You must have been born with a silver spoon and daddy took care of you. Your kids have their sugar daddy too......you. Most are not that lucky.

knowitall

You said, "if I die".

I think we all will eventually.

anthras

Mr. Knowitall says"Well, the republicans want to take your social security and Medicare."

Does it upset you that Obama cut medicare by 500 billion to subsidize Obamacare? It seems that the local area has been effected by the cuts as just a short time ago the SR did inform us that Hospice did have to lay off some persons due to medicare cuts.

knowitall

That was a compromise the republicans wanted. No, I am not upset. Now, people have access to healthcare that would not have. I am guessing that part of Steins problem was mismanagement.

jazzb0

"Republicans say the liberals want to take your guns. Well, the republicans want to take your social security and Medicare."

-- Excellent observation.

JACKEL

Puppies posts are usually
limited too
"You right Wing Nuts "

The Bizness

One thing I don't understand is how people think changing over to renewable resources is anything but good. I just don't get it.

We continue to ruin our planet and eventually the planet will have enough, and we will no longer be able to support ourselves. Wars will be fought over water, and food sources...they are already be fought over energy, just look at Irag.

Donegan

You going to park in a camp because of AL Gore? Ok then shut up moron....

The Bizness

You don't have to live like a cave man to treat the world with respect....thanks for keeping the conversation civil.

coasterfan

The conservatives here are well known for their ad hominem attacks.

knowitall

Too bad Donegan is what he calls others. He/she takes civility to a new low.

Donegan

Too bad after you voted for Obama no one take you seriously. Live and learn huh?

knowitall

You been peaking over my shoulder when I voted. I actually voted for Romney in the last election.

Donegan

I did not vote for either of the bums so take my advice. Parties do not mean crap vote for the candidate who's policies you support and do some research before pulling that lever.

knowitall

Actually, parties do mean something. If you don't vote for a person from either party then regretfully your vote won't matter too much. Our system is set regretfully for two parties. So, at least on the national level, your choice is between two candidates. Hopefully, however you prioritize your values, maybe one candidate can fit them. But, how a candidate responds after being elected sometimes seems quite different than he or she ran on.
I did vote for Obama the first time, Romney the second time. Have a good evening.

Donegan

You lost both times. Both are admitted Progressives. You would lose either way.
I do wish a good evening. Do some research before the next election and actually see your choices. Never compromise your values, That is what has lead us to this dismal state now.

The Big Dog's back

done again, you're such a loser.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I agree with the sentiment, however, I can see a time when we can break free of the two party system as to not be relegated to painfully typing such things. Thank you for another thoughtful, civil post!

knowitall

I know Biz. Boggles my mind why people are so against it.

knowitall

Besides the global warming aspect of burning fossil fuels, there is a limited supply of those. That is why fracking is the in thing now. Soon there will be no technology available to suck out fossil fuels because there won't be any. Finite resource!

KURTje

Newtok , Alaska. Forget the other 1. Merchkas, Alaska?

holysee

We trust scientists to:
-build skyscrapers that don't fall down
-build cell phone and computer networks to post messages on forums
-put satellites in an accurate orbit so we can watch some worthless sports contest
-fix us up when we get injured or sick
-build transportation systems that are safe
-build automated stock market systems to serve the shareholders
-build all the complex medical equipment to get us healthy.
BUT WE SURE AS HELL KNOW THAT THEY COULD NEVER GET CLIMATE SCIENCE RIGHT.
Why do the conservatives not trust the scientists on this one particular area of scientific study? Does believing in the possibility of climate change threaten too many shareholders to accept the truth?
Human behavior is fascinating and contradictory in so many ways!
THreaten a persons lifestyle and all manner of false beliefs come out of the woodwork. Truth is kicked to the curb.
Keep on watching faux.

Contango

Re: "shareholders,"

And who are these "shareholders"?

You and others are more than welcome to place your investible assets in so-called green technologies.

sugar

Perhaps because the largest voices screaming climate change are not scientists? Gore and the UN have just love in their hearts for the plight of humanity? So much love that taxing(taking money) from companies and that will be passed to hardworking Americans, is the wY to fix Armageddon ? Get real.

knowitall

Not true.

Contango

Re: "Scientists looking at glacier melt since 1851 didn't see a human fingerprint until about the middle of the 20th century."

Correlation does not necessarily equate to causality.

-------------------

Re: "That lag effect means the world is already locked into more rapid melting from the warming that has already occurred,"

If true, best to use our economic resources in order to adapt rather than to futilely waste efforts on attempting to lessen the effects.

There are numerous positives to a warming climate - adapt & overcome.

pntbutterandjelly

Whether scientists are correct or not (and I err on the side of their studies) is a mute point in the overall conversation. If we knowingly are polluting our planet in any way shape or form to large degrees...we should make every attempt to correct the causes. To do otherwise is ignoring the future impacts in exchange for short-term bliss. Solar, wind, geothermal and other green options MUST be explored, funded and utilized before the bell tolls.
"With new challenges comes opportunity."

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