Navigation Links
As Greenland melts

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 (, 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 the equivalent of draining San Francisco Bay once a week all year long. Some climate models suggest that if greenhouse emissions are not reduced, Earth's average temperature could approach Eemian era levels when today's children reach their 70's and 80's. Another key question the ice samples may help answer: how long would temperatures have to remain at those levels or higher to trigger a major rise in sea level?

Ice cores have been a tool for science since the Cold War, after it was discovered that air bubbles trapped in ice are science rich time capsules. Each layer of ice is a world unto itself. As Jeff Severinghaus, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, tells Dr. Cullen, "The beautiful thing about an ice core is that it has all of these different indicators: atmospheric composition, mean ocean temperature, dust."

Dr. Cullen also reports that the Greenland project employs a new field technique cutting a thin slab of the ice core, melting it, and conducting a millimeter-by-millimeter analysis of the drip water. When drilling ended for the 2009 summer season samples from one mile down had been retrieved, dating back over 38,000 years. Scientists hope to reach Eemian ice in the summer of 2011.

None of this is to suggest that a massive, accelerated melting of Greenland is in the offing any time soon but as the San Francisco Bay analogy highlights the melting in Greenland demands careful attention be paid.


Contact: Iveta Weinberg
Climate Central

Related biology news :

1. A survivor in Greenland: A novel bacterial species is found trapped in 120,000-year-old ice
2. Greenland ice core reveals history of pollution in the Arctic
3. What is really happening to the Greenland icecap?
4. Searching for an interglacial on Greenland
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
As Greenland melts
(Date:4/28/2016)... and BANGALORE, India , April ... EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... today announced a global partnership that will provide ... to use mobile banking and payment services.      ... a key innovation area for financial services, but it also ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... , April 27, 2016 ... the  "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to ... ) , The analysts forecast the ... CAGR of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... number of sectors such as the healthcare, BFSI, ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... DUBLIN , April 15, 2016 ... of the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report ... ) , ,The global gait ... CAGR of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... movement angles, which can be used to compute ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)...  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 ... for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking ... Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. ... Jocelyn Tremblay, President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Andrew D Zelenetz ... Published recently in Oncology ... touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , discusses the ... is placing an increasing burden on healthcare systems ... With the patents on many biologics expiring, interest ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Windsor, Connecticut (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... will introduce a new line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively ... place September 12–17 in Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies ...
Breaking Biology Technology: