Greenland ice is more sensitive to climate change than expected • Earth.com

Greenland ice is more sensitive to climate change than expected

03-16-2021


Today’s Video of the Day from the University of Vermont describes the strongest evidence yet that Greenland is more sensitive to climate change than what was previously expected. 

“Our study shows that Greenland is much more sensitive to natural climate warming than we used to think – and we already know that humanity’s out-of-control warming of the planet hugely exceeds the natural rate,” said UVM scientist Andrew Christ.

In 1966, the U.S. Army drilled down through nearly a mile of ice in northwestern Greenland. A massive sediment sample was recovered, but then lost in a freezer for decades. 

Two years ago, Christ examined the sediment under a microscope. He was stunned to see twigs and leaves instead of just sand and rock. In collaboration with an international team of researchers, Christ has been analyzing these fossil plants.

The findings suggest that most, or all, of Greenland was ice-free within the last few hundred thousand years.

The research confirms the troubling realization that Greenland’s ice has melted off entirely during warm periods like the one we are experiencing today as a result of human-induced climate change.

With 20 feet of potential sea level rise frozen in the Greenland Ice Sheet, every coastal city in the world is at its mercy. 

“This is not a twenty-generation problem,” said Paul Bierman, a geoscientist at UVM. “This is an urgent problem for the next 50 years.”

“Greenland may seem far away, but it can quickly melt, pouring enough into the oceans that New York, Miami, Dhaka – pick your city – will go underwater.”

Video Credit: UVM/Quincy Massey-Bierman

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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