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New Insight about the History of the Greenland Ice Sheet

November 22, 2013; 4:04 PM ET

Using a new technique that involves Arctic fossil records, scientists from the University of Buffalo have determined that over the last 10,000 ears, the Greenland Ice Sheet was actually at its smallest size between three and five thousand years ago.

The research team also found that on land the atmosphere was warmest between five and nine thousand years ago, which does not match up with the time when the ice sheet was at its smallest size.

However, over the past 10,000 years the oceans were also at their warmest state between three and five thousand years ago, which indicates that ice sheets might really respond to ocean temperatures.

Excerpt from the University of Buffalo News report....

"Traditional approaches have a difficult time identifying when ice sheets were smaller," said Jason Briner, PhD, University at Buffalo associate professor of geology, who led the study. "The outcome of our work is that we now have a tool that allows us to see how the ice sheet responded to past times that were as warm or warmer than present - times analogous to today and the near future."

The technique the scientists developed involves dating fossils in piles of debris found at the edge of glaciers.


This study was published in the journal Geology.

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