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Greenland's shrunken ice sheet: We've been here before
Date:11/22/2013

BUFFALO, N.Y. Think Greenland's ice sheet is small today?

It was smaller as small as it has ever been in recent history from 3-5,000 years ago, according to scientists who studied the ice sheet's history using a new technique they developed for interpreting the Arctic fossil record.

"What's really interesting about this is that on land, the atmosphere was warmest between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago, maybe as late as 4,000 years ago. The oceans, on the other hand, were warmest between 5-3,000 years ago," said Jason Briner, PhD, University at Buffalo associate professor of geology, who led the study.

"What it tells us is that the ice sheets might really respond to ocean temperatures," he said. "It's a clue to what might happen in the future as the Earth continues to warm."

PHOTOS: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2013/11/033.html

The findings appeared online on Nov. 22 in the journal Geology. Briner's team included Darrell Kaufman, an organic geochemist from Northern Arizona University; Ole Bennike, a clam taxonomist from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland; and Matthew Kosnik, a statistician from Australia's Macquarie University.

The study is important not only for illuminating the history of Greenland's ice sheet, but for providing geologists with an important new tool: A method of using Arctic fossils to deduce when glaciers were smaller than they are today.

Scientists have many techniques for figuring out when ice sheets were larger, but few for the opposite scenario.

"Traditional approaches have a difficult time identifying when ice sheets were smaller," Briner said. "The outcome of our work is that we now have a tool that allows us to see how the ice sheet responded to past times that were as warm or warmer than present times analogous to today and the near future."

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Contact: Charlotte Hsu
chsu22@buffalo.edu
716-645-4655
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert  

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