Thursday, March 25, 2021

"Scientists stunned to discover plants beneath mile-deep Greenland ice"

From the University of Vermont via PhysOrg, March 15:

In 1966, US Army scientists drilled down through nearly a mile of ice in northwestern Greenland—and pulled up a fifteen-foot-long tube of dirt from the bottom. Then this frozen sediment was lost in a freezer for decades. It was accidentally rediscovered in 2017. 

In 2019, University of Vermont scientist Andrew Christ looked at it through his microscope—and couldn't believe what he was seeing: twigs and leaves instead of just sand and rock. That suggested that the ice was gone in the recent geologic past—and that a vegetated landscape, perhaps a boreal forest, stood where a mile-deep ice sheet as big as Alaska stands today.

Over the last year, Christ and an international team of scientists—led by Paul Bierman at UVM, Joerg Schaefer at Columbia University and Dorthe Dahl-Jensen at the University of Copenhagen—have studied these one-of-a-kind fossil plants and sediment from the bottom of Greenland. Their results show that most, or all, of Greenland must have been ice-free within the last million years, perhaps even the last few hundred-thousand years.

"Ice sheets typically pulverize and destroy everything in their path," says Christ, "but what we discovered was delicate plant structures—perfectly preserved. They're fossils, but they look like they died yesterday. It's a of what used to live on Greenland that we wouldn't be able to find anywhere else."....


A look at Ventusky's wind and temperature map shows some -62° F temperatures (-58° C) in central Greenland but more importantly the wind in the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard is coming off the pole and has a chance of thickening the first year ice, necessary to create the "plug" to hold the ice out of the North Atlantic. And for the first time in three years I'm not going on about the ice in the Bering Strait. It is a nice 1.5 to 2.5 metres and should be enough to stop the wind breaking things up until later in the melt season: