Extensive radar surveys on seven glaciers in the Columbia River Basin and Rocky Mountains found the ice 28-49% thicker than originally believed, according to a new study from the University of Northern British Columbia.
Lead author Ben Pelto and his colleagues traversed more than 182 km over the glaciers pulling a sled-mounted ice-penetrating radar system to collect tens of thousands of measurements.
The team discovered that the mean observed ice thickness across their seven study glaciers (five in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River Basin, two in the Rocky Mountains) stands at 92.5 m (303.5 ft), and that based on these observations previous computer modelling underestimated the ice thickness by a whopping 28–49%.
“I was surprised that the models were off by that much,” said Pelto.
Previous computer estimates used a variety of surface measurements to guess the thickness and volume of glacier ice over very large areas, such as all of Western Canada, or even the entire planet.
“Those models work pretty well in the absence of data, but you don’t really know how thick the ice is until you measure it,” said Pelto, which of course opens serious questions re the accuracy of all computer-based glacial modelling.
The study, entitled “Bias-corrected estimates of glacier thickness in the Columbia River Basin, Canada” and published in the Journal of Glaciology, considers 34,672 data points in the Columbia Basin and two glaciers in the Rocky Mountains. And while its findings are considered “a bit of good news story,” they apparently don’t change the dire prognosis for B.C.’s glaciers.
“I’m glad they are thicker than we thought,” said Pelto, “but it won’t have much impact on the survival of these glaciers. Some of them might last a few years or even a decade longer, but it won’t save them from climate change,” he said. “Glaciers will disappear from the basin in about 65 to 80 years.”
But as the saying goes, ‘prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future‘–and even moreso when it comes to the future climate. Forecasting is the art of saying what will happen, and then explaining why it didn’t. Case in point is the NPS removing all “Glaciers Gone by 2020” signs following “Larger-than-Average Snowfall”:
In addition, and as recently reported by edmontonjournal.com, an earlier study led by Menounos found that B.C. glaciers are melting at four times the rate in the past 10 years compared to the decade before–but this conclusion was based on the old, wildly incorrect computer models, and so is now completely redundant.
At best, the new data collected by Pelto and co. will help improve the models — but that’s about the only positive I can take here, other than the fact that once again a set of glaciers have been shown not to be on the brink of collapse.
Both NOAA and NASA appear to agree, if you read between the lines, with NOAA saying we’re entering a ‘full-blown’ Grand Solar Minimum in the late-2020s, and NASA seeing this upcoming solar cycle (25) as “the weakest of the past 200 years”, with the agency correlating previous solar shutdowns to prolonged periods of global cooling here.
Furthermore, we can’t ignore the slew of new scientific papers stating the immense impact The Beaufort Gyre could have on the Gulf Stream, and therefore the climate overall.
Prepare accordingly— learn the facts, relocate if need be, and grow your own.
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Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift