In DepthAncient Climate

Mud in storied ice core hints at a thawed Greenland

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Science  01 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pp. 556-557
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6465.556

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Summary

In a Danish freezer, scientists have rediscovered the dirt-filled bottom of Greenland's first deep ice core. The core was drilled at Camp Century, a 300-meter-long military base dug into the ice of northwest Greenland in the early 1960s. The core yielded a record of past temperatures that helped kick off studies of Earth's ancient climate. But by the 1990s, scientists had lost interest in it, moving on to newer cores, and the core's bottom mud lingered in obscurity for decades. Scientists can now use isotopic swings in this mud to detect when the ice last vanished from above the dirt. Preliminary analysis of the Camp Century dirt suggests that much of the Greenland Ice Sheet last disappeared no more than 1 million years ago, a time when temperatures were very similar to today.

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