Ocean-bottom sediments tell a story about ancient Greenland summers

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Over hundreds of thousands of years, sediments from southern Greenland have been making their way into the ocean, where they’re carried by underwater currents to a location in the Labrador Sea called the Eirik Drift. Here, they settle on the ocean floor, where they form a record of history, accumulating in layers that document the environmental past of the lands from which they came. A new University at Buffalo study uses these deposits to learn about ancient climate in southern Greenland, focusing on summer temperature during periods of relative warmth on Earth, called interglacials, over the past 600,000 years. The scientists looked, specifically, at chemicals in leaf waxes. These compounds are among many materials found in the ocean-bottom mud, and for southern Greenland, the chemicals’ make-up changes ever so slightly depending on how warm or cool the region is, says first author Allison Cluett, a PhD candidate in geology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. One conclusion of the research: Periods of prolonged warmth — where summers remain warm for many thousands of years — may be particularly disastrous for the Greenland Ice Sheet. The findings are a warning for today, says Elizabeth Thomas, PhD, UB assistant […]

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