How Geologic Forces are melting the Antarctic Larsen B Ice Shelf

Subglacial topography and bathymetry map of the West Antarctic Rift System and Transantarctic Mountains.Subglacial topography and bathymetry map of the West Antarctic Rift System and Transantarctic Mountains.And so it begins: the ordained and predictable global warming hype has shifted into high gear in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Summit (Paris, Nov. 30-Dec. 11, 2015). As this fervent process ramps up over the next five months, advocates of the man-made global warming theory hope to accomplish the following: flood the media with supposedly consensus, pro-global warming scientific studies, lay the groundwork for a world carbon tax, and most importantly, engage global warming skeptics in a monumental climate science war.

The first battle in this climate science war concerns the cause of accelerated melting and partial collapse of Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf. Predictably, global warming advocates claim that humans are to blame, citing a recent research study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

This study, incidentally, happens to coincide with Obama’s recent commencement address to the Coast Guard Academy, saying the greatest national security threat is global warming. To emphasize this declaration, the White House also released an eleven-page document explaining how climate change will impact national security. NASA, an off-shoot of the Federal government, appears to be off-mission again by following the president’s global warming narrative with alarmist rhetoric and misleading studies.

As it happens, only one week earlier the media was told that record-breaking Antarctic sea ice extent was creating serious problems for scientists studying the continent. Or that over the last 30 years, atmospheric temperatures across Antarctica haven’t moved up or down since 1979 (when satellite record keeping began). In fact, the last six years has seen some of the coldest temperatures that Antarctica has ever experienced.

So if sea ice extent is at its highest level since record keeping began and atmospheric temperatures haven’t ticked upwards since 1979, what exactly is causing this melting of the Larsen B ice shelf? If you ignore the misleading study released by NASA, one only has to look at the geothermal heat flow, active fault lines, sub-glacial hot springs, and other geological activity occurring beneath or near the ice shelf itself:

1. The Larsen B Glacial area is adjacent to, and on geological trend with, five active sub-ocean volcanoes (Figure 1)

Figure 1. Geologic Map of Antarctica (Location of 25 active volcanoes shown as red triangles, estimated position of the West Antarctic Rift System a major fault trend shown as solid black line)Figure 1. Geologic Map of Antarctica (Location of 25 active volcanoes shown as red triangles, estimated position of the West Antarctic Rift System a major fault trend shown as solid black line)

2. Sub-Glacial heat flow is the probable cause of basal melting of the Thwaites Glacier in the Marie Byrd Land area (Figure 1) (West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting From Geothermal Heat, Not Global Warming).

3. Mount Erebus, a 12,448 foot high land volcano located in the McMurdo Volcanic Group area, has become more active (Figure 1) (Evidence Shows Geothermal Activity Linked to West Antarctic Ice Melt). The distinctive glow of its summit lava crater is visible on NASA satellite images.

4. A group of eight sub-ocean volcanoes far north of the Larsen B area have recently been identified and found to be active (Figure 1).

5. The Larsen B Ice Shelf lies atop a major fault system, the giant and active 3,000-mile-long West Antarctic Rift (Figure 1).

6. Recent research and actual drilling through the thick ice sheet has led to the discovery of numerous sub-glacial hot springs, most located along the West Antarctic Rift System. These sub-glacial hot springs have created a huge interconnected network of sub-glacial freshwater streams and lakes (Evidence Shows Geothermal Activity Linked to West Antarctic Ice Melt)..

7. In Greenland, the sudden and unexpected basal melting of a few selective glaciers has recently been associated with geological fault-induced geothermal heat flow. (Greenland Ice Melt Geothermal, Not Manmade).

8. The 2001-2007 accelerated basal melting of the Arctic Ice Sheet has been shown to be related to a series of deep ocean volcanic eruptions associated with the giant Gakkel Rift fault system (Update on Geothermal Heat and Arctic Ocean Sea Ice Melt).

9. Increased basal melting of the Austfonna Glacier on the Svalbard islands located north of Iceland has been shown to be associated with basal geothermal heat flow (Fire and Ice).

10. Overall the Antarctic ice sheet has grown in size for the last 35 years, except in a few selective areas which are related to geologically induced geothermal heating. An overwhelming number of these selective glacial melting areas are associated with the West Antarctic Rift System.

This geological information clearly shows that the Larsen B Ice Shelf is located along an active geological system known as the West Antarctic Rift System. NASA’s failure to at least mention this fact and the likely influence of associated geothermal heat flow concerning the sudden changes in the Larsen B Ice Shelf is truly remarkable.

This is especially surprising considering that NASA has sponsored, and in some cases been directly involved in, research studies which confirm the existence of significant present-day Antarctic geothermal heat flow.

Put simply, the planet has not warmed for nearly 19 years, the Antarctic ice sheet has grown for the last 35 years (when satellite record keeping began), only selective Antarctic glaciers atop known active geological systems have melted, the Arctic ice sheet melt of 2001-2007 was related to deep-ocean volcanic eruptions, and NASA has failed to acknowledge the proven existence of Antarctica’s vast geothermal heat flow.

James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 41 years and who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. Years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate.