Greenland is melting, registers its highest temperature in 1,000 years

The investigation consisted of a reconstruction of the temperature from ice cores of the last 1,000 years

Photo: KEREM YUCEL/Getty Images

greenland It's one of the coldest places on the planetbut in a recent decade it recorded its highest temperature in 1,000 years and a level of thaw that worries scientists.

In the high areas of the Greenland ice sheet, the years 2001 to 2011 were 1.5°C warmer than in the 20th century and represent the warmest decade of the last thousand years, according to a study published today.

The investigation consisted of a temperature reconstruction from ice cores of the last 1,000 years, which revealed that the current warming in north-central Greenland is surprisingly pronounced. The most recent decade analyzed in a study, the years 2001 to 2011, was the warmest in centuries.

researchers led by the Alfred Wegener Institute published the study in the nature magazine and they did so using a set of ice cores unprecedented in length and quality, reconstructed past temperatures in north-central Greenland and ice sheet melt rates.

“The time series we recovered from the ice cores now spans continuously more than 1,000 years, from the year 1000 to 2011. These data show that the warming from 2001 to 2011 clearly differs from the natural variations of the last 1,000 years. Although it was to be expected in light of global warming, we were surprised at how apparent this difference was“, says Dr. Maria Hörhold, a glaciologist at the AWI and lead author of the study.

For the study, the temperatures were reconstructed systematically using a single method for the entire record in the laboratory: the measurement of stable oxygen isotope concentrations within the ice, which vary depending on the temperatures prevailing at the times of ice formation.

The melting has increased substantially

In addition to temperature, the equipment rebuilt melt production of the ice cap. The melting has increased substantially in Greenland since the 2000s and is now a significant contributor to global sea level rise. “We were surprised to see how far the temperatures inside are related to the meltwater drain throughout Greenland, which, after all, occurs in low-lying areas along the edge of the ice sheet, close to the coast,” explains Maria Hörhold.

As the research explains, the Greenland ice sheet plays a critical role in the global climate system. With enormous amounts of water stored in ice (about 3 million cubic kilometers), melting and consequent rise in sea level are considered a potential tipping point. If global emissions are not reduced, the ice sheet is projected to contribute up to 50 centimeters to global mean sea level by 2100.

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