Searching for an interglacial on Greenland

August 24, 2009
This is an ice core drilled at NEEM ice camp. Credit: Anna Wegner, Alfred Wegener Institute

The first season of the international drilling project NEEM (North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling) in north-western Greenland was completed at August 20th.

A research team, with the participation of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, has drilled an of altogether 1757.87 m length on the Greenland inland ice within 110 days. It is expected to contain data on climate history of about 38.000 years. The oldest ice comes from a period when the Greenland climate was characterized by strong temperature fluctuations: an average of 10° to 15° Celsius within a few centuries. The drilling is to be continued in the coming years to gain information on the last , the Eemian of about 120.000 to 130.000 years ago.

Research institutes from fourteen nations are participating in the research project which is running since 2007: Denmark, the USA, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, South Korea, Switzerland, China, Belgium, Iceland and Canada. NEEM is one of the major projects of the International Polar Year 2007-2009. It is coordinated logistically by the Centre for Ice and Climate in Denmark.

This is the ice camp at NEEM drilling site in Greenland. Credit: Anna Wegner, Alfred Wegener Institute

The international team has been drilling an ice core in north-western Greenland (77°45'N - 51°06'W) since April this year. The ice cover at the location has a magnitude of 2.545 m and it is meant to be completely drilled in the coming years to make Eemian climate data of about 120.000 to 130.000 years ago accessible. The gases, trace elements and biological substances enclosed in the ice allow the reconstruction of at that time. "So far, we lack detailed information on the climate in during the last interglacial", explains Prof. Frank Wilhelms, glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute.

"With the help of data gained from the ice core and particularly from the comparison with data from an ice core we drilled in the Antarctic Dronning Maud Land, we are for the first time able to draw conclusions on the interaction of the climate on the northern and southern hemisphere during that time", Wilhelms continues. Because the drilling in this year could be conducted so successfully, researchers expect to obtain ice with the necessary information on this period in the summer of 2010.

Source: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (news : web)

Explore further: Successful completion of deep ice coring in the Antarctic

Related Stories

Successful completion of deep ice coring in the Antarctic

January 23, 2006

An international team of scientists and technical staff under the leadership of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research has successfully completed the deep ice coring at the Alfred Wegener Institute’s ...

Warm winter also in the Arctic

March 29, 2007

Central Europe is not the only place where the past, warm winter has caused record temperatures. Unusually mild temperatures also prevented ice formation in the Arctic, specifically in the region around Spitsbergen. This ...

Ice cores map dynamics of sudden climate changes

June 19, 2008

New, extremely detailed data from investigations of ice cores from Greenland show that the climate shifted very suddenly and changed fundamentally during quite few years when the ice age ended. Researchers from the Niels ...

How will the Arctic sea ice cover develop this summer?

July 9, 2008

The ice cover in the Arctic Ocean at the end of summer 2008 will lie, with almost 100 per cent probability, below that of the year 2005 – the year with the second lowest sea ice extent ever measured. Chances of an equally ...

Recommended for you

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?

November 26, 2015

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the ...

Don't forget plankton in climate change models, says study

November 26, 2015

A new study from the University of Exeter, published in the journal Ecology Letters, found that phytoplankton - microscopic water-borne plants - can rapidly evolve tolerance to elevated water temperatures. Globally, phytoplankton ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 24, 2009
they should melt greenland. it would benefit greenland, northern europe, norther u.s. , russia, greatly. the isostatic rebound alone might allow for a fulll land bridge between the u.s. and europe through greenland.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.