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Ancient soil from beneath a mile of ice in Greenland offers warnings for the future

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: The Conservation

 Context: Approximately 400,000 years ago, large parts of Greenland were ice-free, and evidence suggests it was covered in spruce trees and scrubby tundra.

  • Scientists have now determined the precise date of this ice-free period to be around 416,000 years ago, lasting for about 14,000 years.
  • Researchers extracted frozen soil from beneath the Greenland ice sheet, collected during the Cold War from Camp Century, a unique nuclear-powered base dug into the ice sheet.


The findings have implications for our understanding of climate change and the consequences of rising carbon dioxide levels. During the interglacial period similar to today’s conditions, CO2 levels were much lower, yet they triggered enough warming to melt a significant portion of Greenland’s ice.

To prevent a future of largely ice-free Greenland, it is crucial to take immediate and significant action to reduce carbon emissions and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.