Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lay of the (Green)land

Last year, American geologists from the University of Vermont identified a landscape in Greenland that was 800,000 years old. This year, they announced the discovery of an ancient landscape more than 3 times older. The tundra has been preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet beneath 2 miles of ice for 2.7 million years! Ice core samples the international team of scientists brought up (IMAGE ABOVE) include organic soil, which usually would have been scraped away by moving glaciers. This indicates that the ice sheet has persisted much longer than previously known and has endured many past periods of global warming. Instead of acting as an agent of erosion, the ice worked as a giant refrigerator for the organic materials they have now been able to analyze. Researcher Dylan Rood of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre and the University of California, Santa Barbara comments, "Greenland really was green! However, it was millions of years ago. Greenland looked like the green Alaskan tundra, before it was covered by the second largest body of ice on Earth."

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