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Climate Change Institute

Holocene Behavior of Local Ice Caps in East Greenland

Brenda Hall, Amanda Lusas

August 2010


The Greenland Ice Sheet as well as the rest of the Arctic cryosphere is currently undergoing rapid and dynmaic changes in concert with global warming. However, one unresolved question is whether these changes are unique to the current climate conditions or if they occur at every transition to warm times. We seek to contribute to this question by examining responsive local glaciers in Greenland to assess their behavior during Holocene climate changes. We will do this by establishing chronologies of local glacier fluctuations in the Scoresby Sund region of central East Greenland along a transect from a coastal maritime setting to the continental conditions adjacent to the Greenland Ice Sheet. Here, current recession is exposing sub-fossil vegetation that grew at times when glaciers were smaller than at present. These emerging records yield a rare opportunity to examine both the biota of these warm times and the response of local glaciers to temperatures as warm as, or warmer than, at present.  Our chronologies of glacier fluctuations will come not only from dated organic remains exposed by retreating ice, but also from continuous, high-resolution sediment records taken from glacially fed lakes.


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