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As Greenland melts
Date:10/19/2009

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.


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Contact: Iveta Weinberg
IWeinberg@ClimateCentral.org
609-924-3800
Climate Central
Source:Eurekalert  

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3. What is really happening to the Greenland icecap?
4. Searching for an interglacial on Greenland
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