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Analysis of Greenland ice cores adds to historical record and provide glimpse into climate's future
Date:1/25/2013

at during the Eemian interglacial, the climate in North Greenland was about 8 degrees Celsius warmer than at present. Despite this strong warming signal during the Eemian--a period when the seas were roughly four to eight meters higher than they are today--the surface in the vicinity of NEEM was only a few hundred meters lower than its present level, which indicates that the Greenland ice sheet may have contributed less than half of the total sea rise at the time.

"The new findings reveal higher temperatures in Northern Greenland during the Eemian than paleo-climate models have estimated," said Dahl-Jensen.

The researchers looked at surface elevation and ice thickness in the early and later parts of the Eemian. Following the previous glacial period, 128,000 years before present, the surface elevation in the vicinity of NEEM was 200 meters higher than the present and the ice thickness decreased at a very high rate of 6 centimeters per year. Some 122,000 years before the present, the surface elevation was 130 meters below the present. In the late Eemian, 122,000 to 115,000 before present, the surface elevation remained stable at a level of 130 meters below the present with an ice thickness of 2,400 meters.

The research team estimated the Greenland ice sheet's volume reduced by no more than 25 percent over 6,000 years. The rate of elevation change in the early part of the Eemian was high and the loss of mass from the Greenland ice sheet was likely on the the same order as changes observed during the last ten years.

"The good news from this study is that Greenland is not as sensitive as we thought to temperature increases in terms of disgorging ice into the ocean during interglacial periods," said Dahl-Jensen. "The bad news is that if Greenland did not disappear during the Eemian, Antarctica, including the more dynamically unstable West Antarctica, must be responsible for a significant part of the 4-8 meters of sea-level rise."


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Contact: Peter West
pwest@nsf.gov
703-292-7530
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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