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Greenland ice sheet - world's second largest - experiencing its highest temperatures in 1,000 years, researchers say

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The Greenland ice sheet, one of the coldest and most remote regions in the world that plays a key role in the Earth’s climate, is clearly feeling the significant effects of climate change. The researchers found that the central and northern areas of the leaf recently had the highest temperatures in a millennium.

It has long been clear that many parts of Greenland are warming, but the latest research, published in Nature on Wednesday, took a deeper look at the central part of the Greenland ice sheet, where the impact of climate change has long not been felt. of course.

To learn more about this impact, researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research drilled through ice cores to create a “high-quality reconstruction” of temperatures in central and northern Greenland from 1000 AD to 2011. With this data, it was clear : Not even some of the coldest, most remote and highly elevated areas of the world can escape the impacts of global warming.

“These data show that warming in 2001 to 2011 clearly differs from natural variations over the past 1,000 years,” said lead author of the study, glaciologist Maria Hörhold. “Although this was expected in light of global warming, we were surprised at how evident this difference actually was.”

According to the study, researchers can say with “virtual certainty” that temperatures in that area are approximately 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than they were in 1900. The data show that Greenland experienced a cooling trend until about 1800 and has seen a strong warming trend since then. The industrial revolution, which expanded the global mass use of fossil fuels, began at about the same time.

Greenland’s millennial NGT-2012 temperature reconstruction record.


This is the first time ice cores from this region have provided evidence of global warming. According to a press release, the last time ice cores were surveyed in that region was in the 1990s, and at that time, they “did not indicate clear warming in north-central Greenland” – even when global temperatures were rising.

Hörhold told the Associated Press that there is “almost zero” chance that anything but man-made climate change is to blame for the sharp increase in temperature.

“We continue to see rising temperatures between the 1990s and 2011,” said Hörhold. “We now have a clear signature of global warming.”

Although the recorded temperatures and data are for warming through 2011, Hörhold told the AP that he expects the temperature rise to continue. She also has 2019 ice cores that she continues to study.

The latest research only underscores the critical state of the ice sheet as global temperatures continue to rise. The Greenland ice sheet is second only to Antarctica in size, with both bodies accounting for about 68% of the world’s freshwater resources, according to Copernicus, the European Union’s climate observation program.

But the gigantic icy mass is melting, and fast.

Researchers discovered in 2020 that the ice sheet is on its way to melt four times faster than at any point in thousands of years, saying the planet has been so altered that the amount of ice lost now is comparable to what was lost during the end of the last Ice Age.

If Greenland were to melt completely, researchers believe it would raise global sea levels by about 24 feet. But people will be able to see the effects of even a small melt. The layer’s “zombie ice” – chunks that are attached to thicker areas of ice but are no longer fed by glaciers – is melting amid rising global temperatures. The loss of this ice alone is expected to raise sea levels by at least 10 inches.