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As Greenland melts
Date:10/19/2009

Princeton, New Jersey. October 19th, 2009 ~ Not that long ago the blink of a geologic eye global temperatures were so warm that ice on Greenland could have been hard to come by. Today, the largest island in the world is covered with ice 1.6 miles thick. Even so, Greenland has become a hot spot for climate scientists. Why? Because tiny bubbles trapped in the ice layers may help resolve a fundamental question about global warming: how fast and how much will ice sheets melt?

Monday night on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (PBS), a report by Climate Central's Dr. Heidi Cullen explores efforts by an international group of scientists looking for answers. Their method: drill down through 130,000 years of accumulated ice to unlock the secrets of climate history from what geologists call the Eemian period. That was the last time the average global temperature was significantly warmer than it is today, and tiny bubbles trapped in the ice preserve key planetary conditions from that time period.

Scientists from 14 nations are participating in the North Greenland Eemian Ice drilling project, or NEEM. Dr. Cullen, Senior Research Scientist for Climate Central (climatecentral.org), a non-profit, non-advocacy group of journalists and scientists dedicated to communicating about climate change, along with a television crew from StormCenter Communications, was invited to report the story. In July she accompanied scientists to North Western Greenland where she observed ice core drilling firsthand.

"Securing a pristine ice core dating back 130,000 years will provide a snapshot of conditions on Greenland when the average global temperature was 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today," says Dr. Cullen. "The Eemian provides a very realistic scenario of what we might see in the coming centuries."

Climate Central scientists calculate that in 2007, Greenland shed ice at a rate that, melted, equals
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Contact: Iveta Weinberg
IWeinberg@ClimateCentral.org
609-924-3800
Climate Central
Source:Eurekalert  

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