Two studies published in Nature Wednesday show seemingly contradictory visions for Greenland’s past and the future of its ice sheet, but actually describe different aspects of the ice.
Meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet carved this canyon. Ian Joughin
One study finds that Greenland’s ice sheet may have melted almost completely and repeatedly during the last 1.4 million years, suggesting the ice is more sensitive to warming than currently thought.
The second concluded that the ice on the very easternmost coast has been stable over a 7.5 million year period. Scientists working on both studies say that their results could be compatible: both demonstrate the volatility of the ice sheet, both show that more research is needed, and that while the majority of the island’s ice has melted multiple times, the high altitude east coast has remained icy. Determining the ice sheet’s response to warming is crucial, because its melting could raise global sea levels by up to 24 feet.
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