Re: [asa] Subglacial Water System Moving Faster Than Previously Thought

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Feb 16 2007 - 14:17:37 EST

Dave S. -- if you are right, then I would agree with Rich that more of an
uh-oh is in order. I'm not sure that's been established, though. It seems
that the prior data was very poor and that the new technique using satellite
imaging may be providing a better picture of what has been happening for a
long time. This is from a press release about the new study issued by the

Studies of the subglacial environment are rare, being expensive, risky and
labor-intensive. Bindschadler explained that before the ICESat mission,
researchers would typically have to drill holes in the ice streams in order
to study what was occurring beneath them. These holes, generally just about
4 inches in diameter, provided a much more limited view of the entire ice
stream than the satellite images do.

"Until now, we've had just a few glimpses into what's going on down there.
This is the most complete picture to date what's going on beneath fast
flowing ice," Bindschadler said.

Fricker added, "The approach used for this work provides glaciologists with
a new tool to survey and monitor the nature of the subglacial water system
and to link these observations to the motion of the ice sheet. *We still
don't know how the subglacial water system varies on longer time-scales from
decades to centuries. To do this, we need to continue monitoring the ice
streams with ICESat and future follow-on missions.*"

On 2/16/07, D. F. Siemens, Jr. <> wrote:
> Rich,
> I think something you said was misinterpreted. The water under glaciers
> was recently discovered. This does not mean that it has been there all
> along. As I understand the situation, the glaciers have been probed
> thoroughly in the past without finding much water except at the melting
> ends. Now they are finding water along with much faster motion because of
> the lubricant effect.
> Dave (not O.)
> On Fri, 16 Feb 2007 11:19:40 -0700 "Rich Blinne" <>
> writes:
> On 2/16/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> >
> >
> > I think you'd agree that the epistemic imperative must be different when
> > it comes to a scientific consensus -- right?
> >
> >
> You miss my point. I am saying using uncertainty to avoid dealing with
> some possibly very nasty consequences is as lame as the excuse recorded in
> Acts 17. If you're acting as legal counsel and warn your client of a
> potential but not certain consequence of an action, and your client rejects
> it because of an anonymous comment to a blog is your client being wise?
> People seem to easily reject expert counsel and conservative Christians seem
> to be especially prone to this. The other group that seems to be especially
> prone to the I am not a -- fill in the blank, lawyer, scientist, etc. -- but
> I will reject expert advise without evidence is middle management. Pardon my
> bluntness, but this attitude betrays a profound hubris. Note: I am not
> saying you have this attitude but it is all-to-common amongst
> evangelicals. Scientists and engineers are very up front when there is or is
> not consensus. My detailed study of the climate change issue shows that your
> question about evaluating consensus as a layman is that you should take such
> statements by the IPCC at face value and not play junior detective trying to
> find hidden agendas. The same would hold true for me if I hired you as my
> legal counsel. If I have to constantly second guess you then I should hire
> someone else. If the governments are not satisfied with the quality of
> scientific advise, then they should have nominated other, more qualified,
> scientists for the IPCC work when they were given that opportunity. The
> truth is that the governments did nominate qualified individuals and when I
> look at the results of their work I find that they were worthy of the trust
> of the governments that nominated them.

David W. Opderbeck
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Received on Fri Feb 16 14:18:18 2007

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