There is no longer any doubt that climate change is having a major impact on the Greenland ice sheet, one of the world’s coldest and most isolated places that plays a crucial role in the Earth’s climate. Central and northern parts of the sheet have lately seen the warmest temperatures in a millennium, according to researchers.
It has been known for some time that there has been some warming of Greenland, but new research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday looked more closely at the ice sheet’s central region, where the effects of climate change have been less evident.
High-quality reconstruction of temperatures
Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research drilled ice cores to build a “high-quality reconstruction” model of temperatures in central and northern Greenland from the year 1000 A.D. to 2011.
From that information, it was evident that even the world’s coldest, most inaccessible, and highest-altitude regions are not resistant to the effects of global warming.
Maria Hörhold, a glaciologist and the study’s principal author, remarked, “This data shows that the warming from 2001 to 2011 clearly differs from natural variations during the past 1,000 years. Although grimly expected in the light of global warming, we were surprised by how evident this difference really was.”
Temperatures in that region are around 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than they were in the 1900s, the study found with “virtual certainty.”
According to the data, Greenland saw a cooling tendency up until around the year 1800 and then a sharp warming trend thereafter. It was also at this time that the industrial revolution began, greatly increasing worldwide reliance on fossil fuels.
Ice core confirmed global warming for the first time
For the first time ever, ice cores from that region have confirmed the effects of global warming in the area. According to a press release, the last time ice cores were studied in the area was in the 1990s. It was reported that despite evidence of rising worldwide temperatures, they “did not show clear warming in central-north Greenland.”
According to Hörhold’s remarks to the Associated Press, the likelihood that the recent warming trend is due to factors other than human-caused climate change is “almost zero.”
Temperatures between the 1990s and 2011 kept on increasing in the region, however, as Hörhold put it, and it was ultimately a clear sign of the impacts of climate change on the area.
In speaking to the Associated Press, Hörhold said she anticipates a continuous rising of temperatures based on data recorded prior to 2011. She has also been involved in studies of the ice cores since 2019.
As global temperatures continue to rise, the critical condition of the ice sheet has also been the focus of other recent studies. The European Union’s Copernicus climate observation program reports that the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica together store around sixty-eight percent of the world’s freshwater resources.