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UVM researchers find Greenland ice sheet rapidly melting

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - New research out Monday from the University of Vermont found ancient fossilized plants beneath mile-deep ice in Greenland.

That shows that within the last million years, Greenland’s ice sheet melted. That allowed plants to grow where currently there’s a massive sheet of ice.

UVM researchers say their findings point to a need to combat climate change because the ice sheet is more fragile to temperature changes than they previously thought.

“That tells us that the Greenland ice sheet was sensitive to past changes in the climate before humans began to add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and rapidly change our climate system. So in the future, if we continue to add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and continue to warm it, we could melt the Greenland ice sheet again and raise sea levels, drowning many of the largest cities around the world,” said Drew Christ, a UVM postdoc and the lead author of the study.

The samples they used were actually drilled back in the 1960s by the U.S. government during the Cold War but were lost in a freezer for years and only recently rediscovered.

UVM’s geology department hopes to study more of those samples to unlock more clues about Greenland’s climate past.

Watch the video to see our Cat Viglienzoni’s full interview with Drew Christ and Paul Bierman, a geology professor at UVM.

Click here to learn more about the study.

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