Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Study of Ancient Arctic Temperatures Could Predict How Greenland Ice Will Melt

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Study of Ancient Arctic Temperatures Could Predict How Greenland Ice Will Melt

Article excerpt

Arctic was once warmer than believed: study

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Researchers studying ancient ice from Canada's Arctic say the samples reveal new information on what climate change could do.

The ice cores were drilled to a depth of a few hundred metres on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut and were saved by an Alberta university when the program that preserved them shut down.

Scientists from the University of Ottawa examined the samples and concluded that temperatures in the early Holocene Epoch between 8,000 and 11,000 years ago were up to five degrees warmer than earlier thought.

That means temperatures not long after the end of the last ice age were warmer than they are now. By examining the effect those temperatures had on the Greenland ice sheet then, the scientists were better able to predict how fast Greenland's current ice cover will melt in the future.

The findings were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"If the climate continues to warm -- and the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else -- then having an event in the past where the temperatures got warmer than today gives us a glimpse of where we might be heading," said geophysics professor Glenn Milne, one of the scientists on the study.

Greenland, along with other melting glaciers, is a major contributor to rising sea levels today. If the melt continues to accelerate, sea levels will jump as well.

Computer models with the new data predict Greenland's ice could lose almost a kilometre of thickness over the next 1,000 years.

The research also determined that the rate of temperature change is the fastest it has been in 12,000 years, bolstering evidence that recent global warming is happening unusually fast and likely caused by human activity.

Previous attempts had been made to pinpoint ancient temperatures, but the two methods produced inconsistent results. …

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