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Ice sheet drilling hits bedrock

After five years of drilling, the NEEM ice-core project has reached the bottom of Greenlands inland ice

For researchers at the NEEM drilling project on the Greenland ice sheet, hitting rock bottom has taken on a new meaning. On Tuesday July 27 the giant drills reached bedrock at a depth 2537.36 metres.

The aim of the NEEM project is to learn more about the warm Eemian climate period which is seen as an analogue to current climate change.

And the last 2 metres of ice above the bedrock contains rocks, pollen and other material that has not seen the light of day for hundreds of thousands of years.

Ice can help predict future climate change

Researchers hope that the ice cores will reveal how the ice sheet reacted to a rise in temperature of 2 to 3 degrees 120,000 years ago.

This will help them predict the consequences of global warming in the future.

To do this, they measure stable water isotopes, greenhouse gasses and biological content in the ice cores.

This will help them predict the consequences of global warming in the future.

When Greenland was green

»We expect that our findings will increase our knowledge on the future climate system and increase our ability to predict the speed and final height of sea level rise,« says Dorthe Dahl-Jensen from the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, who heads the NEEM project.

The ice cores will also reveal how Greenland looked before it was covered in ice:

»We expect the ice to be rich in DNA and pollen that can tell us about the plants that existed in Greenland before the site became covered with ice, perhaps as long as 3 million years ago«, says Dorthe Dahl-Jensen.

Read more about the NEEM project here.

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