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posted by martyb on Saturday August 21 2021, @12:07PM   Printer-friendly

Rain fell at the normally snowy summit of Greenland for the first time on record:

Temperatures at the Greenland summit over the weekend rose above freezing for the third time in less than a decade. The warm air fueled an extreme rain event that dumped 7 billion tons of water on the ice sheet, enough to fill the Reflecting Pool at the National Mall in Washington, DC, nearly 250,000 times.

It was the heaviest rainfall on the ice sheet since record keeping began in 1950, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and the amount of ice mass lost on Sunday was seven times higher than normal for this time of year.

The New York Times adds It Rained at the Summit of Greenland. That's Never Happened Before:

Something extraordinary happened last Saturday at the frigid high point of the Greenland ice sheet, two miles in the sky and more than 500 miles above the Arctic Circle: It rained for the first time.

The rain at a research station — not just a few drops or a drizzle but a stream for several hours, as temperatures rose slightly above freezing — is yet another troubling sign of a changing Arctic, which is warming faster than any other region on the planet.

"It's incredible, because it does write a new chapter in the book of Greenland," said Marco Tedesco, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. "This is really new."

At the station, which is called Summit and is occupied year-round under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, there is no record of rain since observations began in the 1980s. And computer simulations show no evidence going back even further, said Thomas Mote, a climate scientist at the University of Georgia.

Above-freezing conditions at Summit are nearly as rare. Before this century, ice cores showed they had occurred only six times in the past 2,000 years, Martin Stendel, a senior researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute, wrote in an email message.

But above-freezing temperatures have now occurred at Summit in 2012, 2019 and this year — three times in fewer than 10 years.

The Greenland ice sheet, which is up to two miles thick and covers about 650,000 square miles, has been losing more ice and contributing more to sea-level rise in recent decades as the Earth has warmed from human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

The surface of the ice sheet gains mass every year, because accumulation of snowfall is greater than surface melting. But overall, the sheet loses more ice through melting where it meets the ocean, and through the breaking-off of icebergs. On average over the past two decades, Greenland has lost more than 300 billion tons of ice each year.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Saturday August 21 2021, @02:56PM (20 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Saturday August 21 2021, @02:56PM (#1169291)

    enough to fill the Reflecting Pool at the National Mall in Washington, DC, nearly 250,000 times.

    Why is it that each and every piece of science news aimed at the general public need to include a stupid comparison with stuff that people are supposed to relate with? Like Library of Congresses? Cars and elephants standing on a small surface? Number of football fields or stacks of dollar bills from Earth to the Moon?

    On top of that, who's been to the Library of Congress, or have witnessed an elephant doing pointes, or owned enough printed money to visualize a stack of it higher than their worn shoe soles? And that pool in a DC mall... never been to it. I bet most people haven't, and they sure aren't likely to visualize it overflowing 250,000 times.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @03:24PM (9 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @03:24PM (#1169293)

      I thought I'd compare the amount of rain to something else and Google came up with all sorts of options--clearly other people had the same idea. I doubt (but of course don't know) that Google would have offered those search strings before this Greenland news was published.

      Anyway, for North Americans used to "Customary units", a cubic mile of water weighs 4.6 billion tons. Personally I can sort of imagine ~1.5 of those, to see how much rain fell on Greenland.

      • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:19PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:19PM (#1169305)

        Unless you can also visualize the size of Greenland, then no, no you can't.
        I also seriously doubt you can visualize a cubic mile.
        I'm not saying this to dis on you, I'm sure you're a pretty normal and pleasant human being, but these sizes aren't at 'human scale' and your error bars are going to be remarkably large at that scale. On average, human's aren't good at estimating or visualizing (which uses the same neural pathways) things at that scale. And on average, you're about average as well.

        If you actually *can* visualize these things, well, then more power to you, but I think you're overestimating your capabilities.

        • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Sunday August 22 2021, @04:32AM

          by ChrisMaple (6964) on Sunday August 22 2021, @04:32AM (#1169509)

          Take a look at Mount Washington or any other fair-sized mountain. Better than visualizing, you can actually see a few cubic miles.

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:40PM (6 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:40PM (#1169359)

        Can you really imagine 1.5 cubic miles? I think acre-feet is a better visualization of that kind of unit, 1.5 cubic miles is roughly 5 million acre-feet. If you like, 640 acres is a square mile, so this is also roughly 8000 square miles covered in water 12" deep. Connecticut is only 5500 square miles, so this would cover Connecticut in 17.5" of water. Connecticut gets an average of 50.2" of rainfall per year, so this is like 127 days of average rainfall there - and this happened in Greenland over the weekend?

        --
        🌻🌻 [google.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @10:56PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @10:56PM (#1169420)

          > a cubic mile of water weighs 4.6 billion tons

          What's that in kilometers and fl oz? I need help visualizing it.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:06AM (4 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:06AM (#1169469) Journal
          It's the size of a very large mountain. For example, Grand Teton has one of the largest prominence (elevation difference between base of mountain and summit) of close to 2 km. You would need a base with area of 18 million square meters to have the necessary volume. That corresponds to a radius of roughly 2.4 km. So a pyramid mountain with the height of Grand Teton and a round base about 5 km wide has the necessary volume.
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:12AM (3 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:12AM (#1169471) Journal
            Er, largest prominence in the lower 48 of the US. There's plenty of mountains in the world with similar or greater prominences.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:17AM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:17AM (#1169483)

              This is what happens when the voices in your head start taking control of your fingers.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:20AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:20AM (#1169484)

                And start typing. I wonder, since the multiple schizo personalities of shallow have complete control of his hand and type replies to himself, does getting a handjob from your other personality count as someone else jacking you off? You know, because he watches porn all day.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:23AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:23AM (#1169486)

                  And jacks off to it. To the tranny porn that is. All day.

                  It's not autism like everyone thinks. Khallow is schizo, not autistic. Shallow is the autistic one.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by BsAtHome on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:05PM (1 child)

      by BsAtHome (889) on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:05PM (#1169303)

      You can always try to do a conversion with https://www.theregister.com/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html [theregister.com]
      That will include "Olympic-sized swimming pool" for volume and "Belgium" for area. As they say YMMV (which may be expressed as Your Brontosauruses May Vary in El Reg terminology).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:41PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:41PM (#1169602)

        The problem I have with Olympic-sized swimming pools is that it is actually a very nice reference for area for me, but not volume. I have no idea how deep an Olympic-sanctioned pool is supposed to be, but I do know that it is pretty deep, at least in one end, because the underwater camera angles look like they are pretty far down.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by fustakrakich on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:39PM (1 child)

      by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:39PM (#1169315) Journal

      Yeah, really, They could have just reported how many inches or rain fell over what period of time. I believe that is how most people measure it. But, you know, Hollywood writes the script... Godzilla!

      --
      La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:41PM

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:41PM (#1169319) Journal

        Um, that's inches of rain...

        --
        La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
    • (Score: 2) by corey on Saturday August 21 2021, @11:02PM (2 children)

      by corey (2202) on Saturday August 21 2021, @11:02PM (#1169422)

      Don’t forget the size of Texas, which to others in the world like us Aussies, means not much.

      • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Sunday August 22 2021, @04:40AM (1 child)

        by ChrisMaple (6964) on Sunday August 22 2021, @04:40AM (#1169513)

        1 Australia = 11 Texas.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @05:20AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @05:20AM (#1169522)

          I had to convert that to 1Texas = 0.90Straya to visualise it properly.

          Texas (696000km^2), the second biggest US mainland state, is just over three times as big as Victoria (227000km^2), Australia's smallest mainland state, and less than a third the size of WA. If Texas was in Australia it would be the second smallest mainland state.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by legont on Saturday August 21 2021, @11:52PM

      by legont (4179) on Saturday August 21 2021, @11:52PM (#1169442)

      They used it because there is no depth in this pool and it has very little water.

      --
      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday August 22 2021, @07:53AM (1 child)

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday August 22 2021, @07:53AM (#1169543) Journal

      More importantly, the absolute amount of rain is pretty meaningless if you don't know what area it fell on. The important and meaningful measure is the amount per area. One quite intuitive way to give that is to state how deep that water would be if it had stayed on top of a perfectly plane surface. That also tends to give a quite human-imaginable quantity, both in terms of the type of quantity, and of the amount.

      Unfortunately I can't find that number. The second article gives the size of the total Greenland ice sheet, but surely it didn't rain that much everywhere in Greenland. Also, distributed over that complete area, the mentioned amount of rain would have been pretty negligible (to say it in the units of the first articles, it would mean distributing the water of that pool over 2.6 square miles. Even without knowing the size of that pool, it should be quite obvious that this is not really much. Thus I assume that it rained that much over a much smaller area.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:43PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:43PM (#1169603)

        Of course, you're missing the whole point of the article in that the surprising thing is that it rained at all.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @03:31PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @03:31PM (#1169295)
  • (Score: 1, Troll) by Barenflimski on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:46PM (6 children)

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:46PM (#1169361)

    NOOOOOOOOO!

    I think my outrage meter is broken. If you all could let me know that would really make my day.

    • (Score: 2) by helel on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:55PM (4 children)

      by helel (2949) on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:55PM (#1169364)

      I believe you should now be outraged enough to turn vegan [medium.com] for one week, extended by one week for each "melting ice/permafrost" or "hottest ever" stories you read.

      • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:58AM

        by Barenflimski (6836) on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:58AM (#1169480)

        Veganism, here we come! I've been told that if I eat full tomatoes with seeds, that vegan poop will actually sprout plants. I love science.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by PinkyGigglebrain on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:12AM (2 children)

        by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:12AM (#1169482)

        from the article you linked.

        interesting little factoid buried in it that gets over looked

        This report was one of the first that measured beef cattle separately from other livestock, like dairy cows, pigs, goats, and sheep — finding that the soy and corn-based diets for beef cattle significantly increased their methane consumption.

        So if we shift the cattle raised for meat to their normal natural grass diet the amount of methane they release would go down so much that the Dairy cattle didn't even get considered.

        And it would have all sorts of other benefits too;
        grass fed beef tastes better.
        Less corn and soy would be used for cattle feed and would be available for human consumption making a vegan diet more affordable to everyone who wants to switch.
        The grass feed cattle would convert inedible grass into edible concentrated protein for human consumption.
        Livestock in general would get blamed less for their green house gas contribution.
        It might get some people to stop virtue signaling about how great a vegan diet is to people who can't afford it or just like a small serving of meat every few days instead of a huge salad every meal that still leaves you hungry after a few hours.

        --
        "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:50AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:50AM (#1169499)

          It could probably be solved with judicious application of probiotics, but that would require not stuffing the cows full of antibiotics to fatten them.

        • (Score: 2) by helel on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:10PM

          by helel (2949) on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:10PM (#1169588)

          Yes, grass fed beef is definitely better, environmentally. Added bonus is that cattle can act as a modern substitute for the bison that used to roam the country, helping to restore native ecosystems.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:58PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:58PM (#1169365)

      The question is not how much you should be outraged but at WHAT you should be outraged:
      Unchecked capitalist consumption
      Or
      Unchecked human population growth

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by dcollins55 on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:46PM (12 children)

    by dcollins55 (15202) on Saturday August 21 2021, @06:46PM (#1169362)

    We have only been collecting data there since, I believe, 1987, not 1980, with the previous 7 years extrapolated from other data sources. It's very hard to predict whether it actually rained before that from geological type analysis. What we do know, for example, is that it's not the first time it's been above freezing. In fact, it was already above freezing there in 2012, it just didn't rain. And who knows if it hit that before, since this region is not a "deep-freeze" area, but a "borderline freezing when it's warm" area. Our analysis of the past in that area is not accurate to a few degrees, which is the difference between rain and snow.

    >And computer simulations show no evidence going back even further
    computer simulations show no evidence because computer simulations are not evidence. Especially ones that can't even predict accurately whether or not it'll rain tomorrow - just watch the weather channel.

    So, nothing to see here, move along.

    • (Score: 2) by jimtheowl on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:16PM (9 children)

      by jimtheowl (5929) on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:16PM (#1169371)
      "computer simulations are not evidence"

      I you are either confusing the definition of "evidence" and "proof", or deliberatlely mixing them for the sake of denialism.
      • (Score: 1) by dcollins55 on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:26PM (7 children)

        by dcollins55 (15202) on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:26PM (#1169372)

        No, I am saying that models that are not accurate enough to predict tomorrow's weather cannot be in any way be used as evidence. You are deliberately cutting all context and quoting several words out of my entire post, for the sake of denialism.

        "deliberatlely mixing them"
        This is not a conversation about gender pronouns.

        See, anyone can do what you did.

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:41PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:41PM (#1169375)

          They regularly predict tomorrow's weather. Geniuses like you are why we can't have nice things.

          • (Score: 1) by dcollins55 on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:48PM

            by dcollins55 (15202) on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:48PM (#1169379)

            Whether they do (what you think) or not (what I think) is not the topic of the comment to which you are replying. Do try to focus and read things. I find that people who keep talking loudly often sound like they are having trouble functioning in a basic conversation. This however is not due to stupidity, although it exhibits the same symptoms. It is because they are so anxious to talk and be heard, they spend the time typing that should have been spent reading.

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:58PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:58PM (#1169381)

            Genies like you are why black people get arrested because of "AI" identifying people in video feeds. You know, because that AI is evidence of a crime. To lower than average IQ, complete moron cops. Which is why in court it's not actually considered evidence.

            Geniuses like you are why we got Trump and have a never-ending pandemic. Although I do realize you're probably not a Trumpet, just have the IQ of one. Weather predictions being wrong is so frequent, it's a meme and a stereotype. Always has been. Using that model to say "It's never rained here" despite not having any actual data on the rain there before the 1980's, is not evidence. It's stupidity.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @08:26PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21 2021, @08:26PM (#1169392)

              never-ending pandemic

              I suppose that for ADHD handicapped people, 5 or 10 times your 3-second attention span might seem "never-ending".

        • (Score: 2) by jimtheowl on Saturday August 21 2021, @08:54PM

          by jimtheowl (5929) on Saturday August 21 2021, @08:54PM (#1169395)
          Some people get angry at the wheather man because the 40% chance of precipitation did not "come true". It does not mean that all computer models are useless.
          The part quoted did not seem to have any other context, but please feel free to explain.
        • (Score: 2) by Pav on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:42AM (1 child)

          by Pav (114) on Sunday August 22 2021, @01:42AM (#1169478)

          Regarding weather vs climate - it's like modeling the result of gambling. I can predict that the house is statistically more likely to win on the next spin of the roulette wheel, and even though I can model this pretty well I've got a significant chance of being wrong. That's the equivalent of predicting the weather tomorrow - and it's significantly MORE difficult to predict both the weather, as it is to predict the financial result of the next roulette spin. The more spins of roulette though, the less chance of being wrong about the house winning - and predicting climate over longer periods is easier for the same reason.

          • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Sunday August 22 2021, @08:07AM

            by maxwell demon (1608) on Sunday August 22 2021, @08:07AM (#1169546) Journal

            Or more closely related: I can't tell for sure whether where I live, January 1 next year will be warmer or colder than July 1 next year. Yet I can predict with almost certainty that the next winter will be colder than the following summer.

            --
            The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @12:34AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @12:34AM (#1169458)

        computer simulations are neither proof (evidence establishing a fact) nor evidence (body of facts)

    • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:47AM (1 child)

      by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Sunday August 22 2021, @02:47AM (#1169489)

      Our analysis of the past in that area is not accurate to a few degrees, which is the difference between rain and snow.

      you missed the part in the summary

      Above-freezing conditions at Summit are nearly as rare. Before this century, ice cores showed they had occurred only six times in the past 2,000 years, ...

      Your also missing or ignoring the fact that the difference between it raining and snowing is caused by the air at the cloud level being cold, the surface temp is relevant only on whether the snow doesn't melt on contact with the ground. Ever have it hail on you when the air on the ground is only 15C (~65F)?

      For it to rain in that location means that the air where the rain forms was warmer that it normally would be.

      You do have a point that this might just be a fluke, a once in a Century event, and it's nothing to get excited about. It might have been the result of that heat dome that caused a lot temperature records in the USA to get broken recently.

      But what will you say if it happens again in a few years, or next month? Areas that have been historically below freezing are warming up. And the global average temperature is rising faster than any other time in the last 20,000 years. [xkcd.com]

      --
      "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday August 22 2021, @12:05PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 22 2021, @12:05PM (#1169568) Journal
        That XKCD graph doesn't show short term climate changes before 1850 so you may be right, but you can't use that graph to back your assertion. I find it remarkable how people just don't get the limitations of that graph.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by ChrisMaple on Sunday August 22 2021, @04:52AM (2 children)

    by ChrisMaple (6964) on Sunday August 22 2021, @04:52AM (#1169520)

    That's Never Happened Before. ... since record keeping began in 1950 ... since observations began in the 1980s.

    So according to the NY Times and CNN, the Earth is either 71 or less than 41 years old.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22 2021, @03:48PM (#1169606)

      Read a little about ice cores before proudly exposing the immense depths of your ignorance.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @06:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @06:28PM (#1169952)

      The bible doesn't include a helpful paragraph calrifying the details. Clickbait headline isn't even worst example of clickbait? Chill out.

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