Climate Science

Taking Greenland's Temperature

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Science  02 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1183
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6060.1183-b

The climate warming that has occurred over the past century in Greenland has been much more pronounced than the concurrent hemispheric or global average temperature increases as a whole. Such a large and rapid local rise in temperature has raised considerable concern about effects on the Greenland ice sheet and sea level more broadly, and questions about how much of the temperature rise is natural and how much has been caused by humans. Kobashi et al. construct a proxy record for Greenland surface air temperature over the past 4000 years, using argon and nitrogen isotopic ratios from air bubbles occluded in the ice, in order to establish useful estimates of the natural variability of temperature there. They find that the current decadal mean temperature has not exceeded the highest values of the past 4 millennia, which occurred during the Holocene Thermal Maximum, but that the temperature can be expected to rise above those values before the year 2100 if the projections of climate models are correct.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 38, L21501 (2011).

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