A large portion of Greenland was an ice-free tundra landscape—perhaps covered by trees and roaming woolly mammoths—in the recent geologic past, new UVM-led research shows. This indicates that the ice sheet on Greenland may be more sensitive to human-caused climate change than previously understood—and will be vulnerable to irreversible, rapid melting in coming centuries.

During the Cold War, a secret U.S. Army mission, at Camp Century in northwestern Greenland, drilled down through 4560 feet of ice on the frozen island—and then kept drilling to pull out a twelve-foot-long tube of soil and rock from below the ice. Then this icy sediment was lost in a freezer for decades. It was accidentally rediscovered in 2017 and shown to hold not just sediment but also leaves and moss, remnants of an ice-free landscape, perhaps a boreal forest.

But how long ago were those plants growing—where today stands an ice sheet two miles thick and three times the size of Texas? An international team of scientists was amazed to discover that Greenland was a green land only 416,000 years ago (with an error margin of about 38,000 years). Read more at University of Vermont 

Source: ENN

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