Report

Natural Variability of Greenland Climate, Vegetation, and Ice Volume During the Past Million Years

Science  20 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5883, pp. 1622-1625
DOI: 10.1126/science.1153929

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Abstract

The response of the Greenland ice sheet to global warming is a source of concern notably because of its potential contribution to changes in the sea level. We demonstrated the natural vulnerability of the ice sheet by using pollen records from marine sediment off southwest Greenland that indicate important changes of the vegetation in Greenland over the past million years. The vegetation that developed over southern Greenland during the last interglacial period is consistent with model experiments, suggesting a reduced volume of the Greenland ice sheet. Abundant spruce pollen indicates that boreal coniferous forest developed some 400,000 years ago during the “warm” interval of marine isotope stage 11, providing a time frame for the development and decline of boreal ecosystems over a nearly ice-free Greenland.

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