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West Antarctica: more evidence it was the volcanoes that melted the ice

Posted By Joanne Nova On October 13, 2014 @ 3:15 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

As I’ve repeatedly posted this year, there is a strange coincidence between geothermal activity and warming in Antarctica. We are still discovering volcanoes underwater, so we can’t pretend we have accurate data on their contribution in joules or the trends in that. On Antarctica almost all the headlines of doom and collapse come from West Antarctic peninsula or the ice sheet nearby which also happen to be over the West Antarctic Rift System. Most other places in and around Antarctica are cooling or staying the same, and sea ice is hitting record levels. “Must be CO2 then.” ; -)

Damiani et al looked at the crustal thickness beneath Thwaites Glacier, and finds it is quite thin, like that beneath the Pine Island Glacier. The researchers conclude that it is likely there is a major volcanic dome in Marie Byrd Land.[1]

Spot any media mention of the possibility that hot lava might be to blame instead of your SUV.[2]  Good little propaganda writers produce plenty of gloom and doom headlines of the imminent collapse of ice-sheets. Where are the journalists? For that matter — which climate scientist tries to make sure journalists present an accurate report?

h/t The HockeySchtick

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The two key parts of the abstract:

“The thin continental crust we reveal beneath Thwaites Glacier supports the hypothesis that the West Antarctic Rift System underlies the region and is expressed topographically as the Byrd Subglacial Basin. This rifted crust is of similar thickness to that calculated from airborne gravity data beneath neighboring Pine Island Glacier, and is more extended than crust in the adjacent Siple Coast sector of the Ross Sea Embayment. A zone of thinner crust is also identified near the area’s subaerial volcanoes lending support to a recent interpretation predicting that this part of Marie Byrd Land is a major volcanic dome, likely within the West Antarctic Rift System itself.”

The presence of such inferred warm upper mantle also suggests regionally elevated geothermal heat flux in this sector of the West Antarctic Rift System and consequently the potential for enhanced meltwater production beneath parts of Thwaites Glacier itself.”

REFERENCE

[1^] Damiani, T., Jordan, T., Ferraccioli, F., Young, D., Blankenship, D. (2014) Variable crustal thickness beneath Thwaites Glacier revealed from airborne gravimetry, possible implications for geothermal heat flux in West Antarctica, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 407, 1 December 2014, Pages 109–122 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.09.023

[2^] Dustin M. Schroeder, Donald D. Blankenship, Duncan A. Young, and Enrica Quartini. Evidence for elevated and spatially variable geothermal flux beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. PNAS, June 9, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1405184111 [Abstract]

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