A landscape unseen in over 40,000 years

A landscape unseen in over 40,000 years
Credit: University of Colorado at Boulder

Glacial retreat in the Canadian Arctic has uncovered landscapes that haven't been ice-free in more than 40,000 years and the region may be experiencing its warmest century in 115,000 years, new University of Colorado Boulder research finds.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, uses radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of plants collected at the edges of 30 ice caps on Baffin Island, west of Greenland. The island has experienced significant summertime warming in recent decades.

"The Arctic is currently warming two to three times faster than the rest of the globe, so naturally, glaciers and ice caps are going to react faster," said Simon Pendleton, lead author and a doctoral researcher in CU Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR).

Baffin is the world's fifth largest island, dominated by deeply incised fjords separated by high-elevation, low-relief plateaus. The thin, cold plateau ice acts as a kind of natural cold storage, preserving ancient moss and lichens in their original growth position for millennia.

"We travel to the retreating ice margins, sample newly exposed plants preserved on these ancient landscapes and carbon date the plants to get a sense of when the ice last advanced over that location," Pendleton said. "Because dead plants are efficiently removed from the landscape, the radiocarbon age of rooted plants define the last time summers were as warm, on average, as those of the past century"

In August, the researchers collected 48 plant samples from 30 different Baffin ice caps, encompassing a range of elevations and exposures. They also sampled quartz from each site in order to further establish the age and ice cover history of the landscape.

Once the samples were processed and radiocarbon dated back in labs at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at CU Boulder and the University of California Irvine, the researchers found that these ancient at all 30 have likely been continuously covered by ice for at least the past 40,000 years.

"Unlike biology, which has spent the past three billion years developing schemes to avoid being impacted by , glaciers have no strategy for survival," said Gifford Miller, senior author of the research and a professor of geological sciences at CU Boulder. "They're well behaved, responding directly to summer temperature. If summers warm, they immediately recede; if summers cool, they advance. This makes them one of the most reliable proxies for changes in summer temperature."

When compared against temperature data reconstructed from Baffin and Greenland ice cores, the findings suggest that modern temperatures represent the warmest century for the region in 115,000 years and that Baffin could be completely ice-free within the next few centuries.

"You'd normally expect to see different plant ages in different topographical conditions," Pendleton said. "A high elevation location might hold onto its ice longer, for example. But the magnitude of warming is so high that everything is melting everywhere now."

"We haven't seen anything as pronounced as this before," Pendleton said.


Explore further

Study shows unprecedented warmth in Arctic

More information: Simon L. Pendleton et al, Rapidly receding Arctic Canada glaciers revealing landscapes continuously ice-covered for more than 40,000 years, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08307-w
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: A landscape unseen in over 40,000 years (2019, January 25) retrieved 24 April 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-landscape-unseen-years.html
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Jan 25, 2019
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Jan 25, 2019
@anonym, you post the same stupid shit every single time. Is that the only sentence you know how to spell? Are you so lazy that you copy-paste the same unpunctuated string of words?

No, you're just an incredibly stupid troll.

Jan 25, 2019
You're right about Anonym Bert, but the endless alarmist articles have ruined climate science news. It's all "if" and "could".

Jan 25, 2019
You know, in any other context if people repeatedly told you say that your house was on fire, would you not still exit the building? OMG, Too many people told me my house is on fire, I'm staying because F you that's why! It used to be that climate deniers claimed that nobody was saying it, now you're saying too many people are saying it, how can we believe that? You know what's really happening? You're a moron if you don't believe the avalanche of credible and proven evidence. But it's more than just your house on fire, you're trying to stay in the house for all of us.

Jan 25, 2019
these ancient plants at all 30 ice caps have likely been continuously covered by ice for at least the past 40,000 years

Not surprising. When glacial periods transition to warm interglacial periods, the ice melts. Over the last 800,000 years, that's happened several times. See this temperature graph from the EPICA ice core:

https://commons.w...plot.svg

The peak of the prior warm interglacial period was about 125,000 years ago so presumably around 80,000 years after that glaciers began to cover those plants and it hasn't been warm enough to reveal them until now. If these warming-cooling cycles continue, those plants will probably be covered by glaciers again many thousands of years in the future. Read more about the prior interglacial period here, when sea level was 4 to 6 meters higher:

https://www.giss....nitz_09/

Jan 25, 2019
Take in this brief moment in time
these glaciers wont retreat for long
this ice is returning
as it has for billions of years
if you miss your rare holiday vista
you might not live long enough
to see it return

Jan 26, 2019
You're a moron if you don't believe the avalanche of credible and proven evidence


You're an ignoramus. There's no proven evidence other than climate has been warming since the younger dryas. Endless alarmist BS articles though. Avalanche of evidence? A clear campaign to spread propaganda for political ends. You idiots make the average family pay more for energy. That's all you do. Oil companies love the fact that you artificially raise the cost of energy, and their profits.

Jan 26, 2019
waiting for several centuries of agriculture and cattle farms in Greenland (hell I'll settle for several contiguous decades).

Still too cold.

Grape vineyards in Scotland and Norway? No? Too cold yet. Remember it takes decades for vines to grow large enough to produce in quantity and both the Romans and English reported FINE wine from Scotland. NOT since 1300 however. Too cold. Too cold still.

Jan 26, 2019
Oldcode
There's no proven evidence other than climate has been warming since the younger dryas.
Isn't it interesting how the deniers always make outlandish assertions - but never support them with any science?? Maybe Oldcode should retire - cuz the young coders actually know how to code. Graphics 5, and 6 on this site refute your assertion code. Maybe you could actually supply some support for your assertions! - https://nsidc.org...tro.html

Jan 26, 2019
Oldcode
There's no proven evidence other than climate has been warming since the younger dryas.
Isn't it interesting how the deniers always make outlandish assertions - but never support them with any science?? Maybe Oldcode should retire - cuz the young coders actually know how to code. Graphics 5, and 6 on this site refute your assertion code. Maybe you could actually supply some support for your assertions! - https://nsidc.org...tro.html


the climate changes. I'm with Freeman Dyson. "the models are rubbish and are so poor no useful conclusions may be drawn from them".

Jan 26, 2019
the climate changes
Yes it does - and it has done so for billions of years. How do we know? Oh right - millions of hours of scientific research - so that you can make your pointless comments - and try to sound informed. And the same science that tells us that the climate changes - and gives us proxy data to understand historic temp records - also tells us that the current warming trend is not attributable to natural causes (read Milandovich cycles etc. etc.). So just saying "climate changes" makes you pointless.....

Jan 26, 2019
point being chum, the hoopla about climate change is just that. hoopla. gather data. don't create a monster by taxing carbon.

Jan 26, 2019
When people in positions of trust and responsibility turned aside from mainstream science - and encouraged non-scientists to distrust experts - they did us all a grave disservice.

I expect governments and policy makers to get their expert advice from National Academies and other long running and reliable science agencies, not blogs. Definitely not pseudonymous and hubristic commenters on websites. Not Greenpeace either, btw.

It isn't about capitalism vs socialism no matter how much some want it to be - it is about responsibility and accountability and long running efforts at responsibility avoidance. Innovative entrepreneurship is the main means of fixing the problem. Capitalist entrepreneurship and free enterprise fixes.

It isn't about world government overriding national sovereignty but about entering into agreements knowingly, for mutual benefit, which nations do all the time.

The "Climate Concerned" are not the extremist green-socialists we are falsely portrayed as.

Jan 26, 2019
I wonder who was running around taxing people, regulating industry back when those little plants were frozen to death by global cooling.. Give a choice, I think we got the good side of natures cycle.. Id much ratha have palm trees in Maine, than 50 feet of ice over my lawn.

Jan 26, 2019
When people in positions of trust and responsibility turned aside from mainstream science - and encouraged non-scientists to distrust experts - they did us all a grave disservice.


Freeman Dyson. He says not to worry and give reasons why. Oh and he's Freeman Dyson and they're not. Plus he has no ax to grind.

Didn't say the climate doesn't change. The climate always changes.

Jan 26, 2019
shootist
point being chum, the hoopla about climate change is just that. hoopla
That's an opinion. One of 8 billion or so. The point chum - is really that the science says it is not hoopla. It is just science.
Didn't say the climate doesn't change. The climate always changes
Broken record aren't we? You deniers keep making false statements - and then hide into meaningless drivel when shown how false your statements are. Yes the climate has always changed - but the science says the current warming trend is caused by human activity - and is very worrisome.

Jan 26, 2019
I wonder who was running around taxing people, regulating industry back when those little plants were frozen to death by global cooling.. Give a choice, I think we got the good side of natures cycle.. Id much ratha have palm trees in Maine, than 50 feet of ice over my lawn.


The "global cooling" myth was never based on science. http://nora.nerc....52E1.pdf

Jan 26, 2019
Cranks can't count. A simple look at almanacs and centuries-old geophysics disproves anile assertions that "we can't have done this."

This is landscape that has been under the ice for longer than we have existed. What do you want, written instructions on the insides of your foreheads from jebus?

Jan 27, 2019
Broken record aren't we?


No. Most folks appear to believe the climate has a normal. Climate change is "normal". 6% CO2 is "normal". Glaciation in New York City, a mile thick is "normal"

If 4% CO2 is too much. Plant trees. The CO2 production will go away, because technology, within the next 30-50 years. It isn't worth beggering the middle class to fulfill some greenie fantasy.


Jan 27, 2019
Most folks appear to believe the climate has a normal
How do you know what most folks believe? And so what if they do? The science tells us that the current warming trend is not part of the 'natural' climate variability. Milankovitch cycles have been the primary driver of that variability during recent geological history. That is the conclusion of the scientists who study climate.
The CO2 production will go away, because technology, within the next 30-50 years
Perhaps. So what is wrong with suggesting redirecting our government spending - to incentivize the acceleration in developing the new technologies? It is fascinating to watch conservatives be happy to invest billions into nuclear power, fossil fuels, computer technology etc. - and then demonize 'greenies' - for wanting to see governments take an active role in protecting our survival as a species.

Jan 27, 2019
Cranks can't count. A simple look at almanacs and centuries-old geophysics disproves anile assertions that "we can't have done this."

This is landscape that has been under the ice for longer than we have existed. What do you want, written instructions on the insides of your foreheads from jebus?


Centuries old? yeah, centuries are relevant on a geological time scale....

Jan 27, 2019
If yuo could read yuo'd be dangerous.

Jan 27, 2019
I am curious as to what else they are finding thats been on ice for 40,000 years. Facinating!

Jan 27, 2019
The trouble with deniers is that all they look at is ice. That is the least of our worries. Insects are disappearing, fish are disappearing, fires are larger, storms and winds are stronger. We are in trouble from more than just ice, so get with the program people.

Jan 27, 2019
Who knows what stuff under the ice that's 40 thousand years old will be? How about when we get to 50 thousand? 100 thousand? New plagues? Hungry alien visitors? Some plant that takes over corn fields and wheat fields?

Jan 28, 2019
You're right about Anonym Bert, but the endless alarmist articles have ruined climate science news. It's all "if" and "could".
Old_C_Code

So you think if it has "if" or "could" in it then its nonsense?
Well, then all weather forecasts are nonsense and next time there is a hurricane or tornado warning you should ignore it. At least people with your attitude are sometimes doing the rest of us a service by eliminating the genes (their own genes) for stupidity out of the gene pool. Unfortunately, if there are enough stupid people, in this case, it might also eliminate some of OUR genes for higher intelligence.
The words "if" and "could" do NOT make it nonsense!


Jan 28, 2019
You're right about Anonym Bert, but the endless alarmist articles have ruined climate science news. It's all "if" and "could".
Old_C_Code

So you think if it has "if" or "could" in it then its nonsense?
Well, then all weather forecasts are nonsense and next time there is a hurricane or tornado warning you should ignore it. At least people with your attitude are sometimes doing the rest of us a service by eliminating the genes (their own genes) for stupidity out of the gene pool. Unfortunately, if there are enough stupid people, in this case, it might also eliminate some of OUR genes for higher intelligence.
The words "if" and "could" do NOT make it nonsense!



just completely worthless for making predictions about the future. "The models are rubbish". - Freeman Dyson

Jan 28, 2019
Clarke's First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist says something is possible, he's almost certainly right. When he says it is impossible, he is almost certainly wrong.

Next?

Jan 28, 2019
The trouble with deniers is that all they look at is ice..

Not even that. Here in the Netherlands our national passtime, the Elfstedentocht, an ultra-distance skating event held between eleven cities, hasn't been possible since 1997. The hiatus between events were traditionally of 1 or 2 years, more because the ice was not good enough than for lack of it (bad weather or too rough ice). It increased over the century and now it's already 22 years since the last. Due to lack of ice.

Ice thickness of up to 25 cm were normal and the necessary 12 that is required for an Elfstendetocht were routine, so much so that we even had barrows with skates for the postal service in winter.

Global warming has already changed our ancient traditions. Or maybe the denialists think that skating is popular here in the Netherlands just by random chance. Heck, this year not even the specially made shallow ponds have frozen enough for skating!

Jan 29, 2019

just completely worthless for making predictions about the future
Shootist

Wrong. The climate models have already been proven to be accurate enough because they made many PREDICTIONS that then were later observed to be correct within the estimated error of estimates.
"The models are rubbish". - Freeman Dyson

And that man isn't a climate scientist and his opinion on climate science is worthless because that science is outside his area of expertise and his claims have repeatedly been debunked.
I have read his opinions: they are all flawed. Climate models are tested against the real world and are evolving and improving all the time and now already have made many predictions that have later been observed to be correct. For example, they all predicted the ocean temperatures will continue to rise, and then they did and by about the same amount the models said they would.

Would you moronically ignore hurricane warning because it comes with "if" and "could"?

Jan 29, 2019
Ugh. The same old stupid from climate deniers.

I no longer come back here, and comment, because they don't learn, and my physics research is far more fulfilling (my ideas seem to have yielded fruit, I am excited to say).

All these blowhards do is repeat the same old garbage.

I mean, why do you think "The climate is always changing!" is a good argument?

Why do you think quoting Freeman Dyson, WHO IS NOT A CLIMATE SCIENTIST, is a good argument?

Why do you think clamoring about how we shouldn't be taxed is a good argument, when science says that it won't do you any good, when mass migrations, extended droughts, heat waves, and rising sea levels become significant problems at your doorstep?

And greenonions1 makes a good point. These clowns don't hesitate to quote science that supports their argument, but, eschew the science that doesn't. Why is that? It almost seems like confirmation bias, or something.

https://media.gip...iphy.gif

Jan 29, 2019
Climate change is "normal". 6% CO2 is "normal". Glaciation in New York City, a mile thick is "normal"
This morning on the radio chris stigall suggested you ask the next AGWite you see to describe what an optimal temperature for the planet would be. Are we already too hot? Too cold?

But he apparently doesnt realize that its change itself that's the problem. Rapid change means mass migrations, starvation, conflict, etc. Which is apparently what is happening.

The question is not whether we caused it or not but is there anything we can do to stop it? Should we try or should we expend our time and energy preparing for it rather than trying to stop it?

I think this decision was made long ago and preparations are under way. New tech is being developed, sociopolitics that allow for mobile economies and workforces are in place, preemptive wars are being waged.

All the argument we see going on is pure politics; misdirection rather than some practical way of making decisions.

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