January 27 (UPI) – The rapid withdrawal of Arctic glaciers has revealed mosses and ancient lichens, without ice for the first time in 40,000 years, according to a new analysis by the researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The survey of recently defrosted plants, contextualized by temperature records obtained from Greenland ice cores, suggests that Arctic is experiencing higher summer than any century in 115,000 years.
"The Arctic is currently heating two or three times faster than the rest of the globe, so naturally, glaciers and ice caps will react faster," said Simon Pendleton, a Ph.D. Arctic and Alpine Research Institute of Boulder, in a new release
Pendleton and his colleagues, dated radiocarbon plants, are located near the edges of 30 ice caps on the island of Baffin, the fifth largest island in the world.
"We traveled to the backbone margins, shows recently exposed plants preserved in these ancient landscapes and carbon plant data to get an idea of when the ice moved over this location," Pendleton said. "Because dead plants are effectively eliminated from the landscape, the radiocarbon age of rooting plants defines the last time summers were as warm as those in the last century."
Their analyzes, published this week in Nature Communications, show that all, except one of the 30 sites, were continuously covered with ice for at least the last 40,000 years.
Glaciers constantly rested on warming and cooling patterns, making them an ideal proxy for historical climate change. When looking at the temperature data revealed by the ice cores in Greenland, the latest plant analysis suggests that the region experiences its warmest summers in 115 millennia.
If warming trends continue, scientists warn that the Baffin island will probably be completely free of ice in a few centuries.
Under normal cooling and warming patterns, scientists would expect to find a wider range of vegetable ages, with some areas that have previously melted and others remain frozen.
"A high elevation location may contain your gel longer, for example," said Pendleton. "But the magnitude of warming is so high that now everything is melting everywhere. We have not seen anything as pronounced as this before."