The Hottest in 1000 Years – Greenland’s Unprecedented Heat

Global Warming Climate Change Earth on Fire

The latest temperature reconstruction indicates that the past decade in the cores is approximately 1.5 degrees warmer than the long-term average.

A recent scientific study, based on updated ice core data, reveals that the high temperatures in central and northern Greenland are unprecedented when compared to the reconstructed climate conditions over the past 1000 years.

The climate of the last 1000 years reconstructed

Over the past decade, researchers from the Alfred Wegner Institute and the Niels Bohr Institute have collaborated to update the existing ice cores with more recent data. To accomplish this, they have conducted several missions to remote locations on the Greenland ice sheet to drill new cores in areas where ice cores were previously collected about 30 years ago.

This has been done in order to get ice and snow samples from the latest decades.

Comparing the water isotopic composition in the recent samples with similar records reaching a millennium back in time it is possible to reconstruct climate from the year 1000 all the way up to 2011.

The new temperature reconstruction shows that the most recent decade in the cores are some 1.5 degrees warmer than the long-term average.

Bo Vinther

Associate professor Bo Vinther preparing an ice core for analysis. Credit: Christian Morel

This warming is unique in the 1000-year perspective provided by the ice cores. Hence, it is clear that the signal of global warming has reached even the remote ice sheet locations in central and northern Greenland.

Rising temperatures and an increase in meltwater from the inland ice sheet go together

The new study goes on to compare the reconstructed Greenland temperature evolution to melt-water run-off from the Greenland ice sheet, showing that temperatures and melt are closely related.

Hence, the increase in melt observed in recent decades is also likely to be unique in the past 1000 years.

Rising sea levels are the consequence

Associate professor Bo Møllesøe Vinther, who participated in the study describes its significance:

“The close relationship between higher temperatures and increasing melt of the Greenland ice sheet documented in the study is of great concern given that Greenland warming is projected to continue due to continued emissions of greenhouse gasses. Melt from the Greenland Ice Sheet must thus be expected to contribute more and more to sea level rise in the future.”

Reference: “Modern temperatures in central–north Greenland warmest in past millennium” by M. Hörhold, T. Münch, S. Weißbach, S. Kipfstuhl, J. Freitag, I. Sasgen, G. Lohmann, B. Vinther and T. Laepple, 18 January 2023, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05517-z

1 Comment on "The Hottest in 1000 Years – Greenland’s Unprecedented Heat"

  1. “… the most recent decade in the cores are some 1.5 degrees warmer than the long-term average.” Celsius or Fahrenheit? Earth has an annual range approaching 150 deg C. 1.5 deg C is 1% of the range. One would be doing well to keep their insulated, air-conditioned home to within 1% all year long.

    Flames over the Northern Hemisphere makes for a dramatic illustration; however, it is misleading. The Arctic is warming faster than the mid-latitudes, but it is still all ice and snow.

    1,000 years ago? That sounds like the Medieval Warm Period when diesel-powered ox cart drag racing by teenagers was all the rage.

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