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Baffin Island is ice-free for the first time in 40,000 years



January 25 (UPI) – The rapidly retreating Arctic glaciers have revealed ancient moss and lichen and were ice-free for the first time in 40,000 years, according to a new analysis by researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

newly thawed plants, contextualized by temperature records from Greenland ice cores, suggest that the Arctic is warmer than any century in 115,000 years.

"The Arctic is currently warming two to three times faster than the rest of the world, so naturally glaciers and ice caps will react faster," said Simon Pendleton, a doctoral student at the Boulder Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, in a press release.

Pendleton and his colleagues have found radiocarbon plants on the edges of 30 ice caps on Baffin Island, the fifth largest island in the world.

"We travel to the retreating ice margins, try out newly exposed plants conserved on these ancient landscapes, and date the plants' carbon to get a sense of when the ice last penetrated this place," said Pendleton. "Because dead plants are efficiently removed from the landscape, the radiocarbon age of the root plants is on average as warm as in the last century."

Her analysis ̵

1; published this week in the journal Nature Communications – showed that up to one of the 30 locations over the past 40,000 years or so was constantly covered in ice.

The glaciers were consistently warmer and more cooling patterns, making them an ideal replacement for historical climate change. Recent analysis of the plants suggests that the region experiences the warmest summers in 115 millennia, considering the temperature data obtained with ice cores in Greenland.

As warming trends continue, the scientists warn that Baffin Island is likely to be completely ice-free in a few centuries.

Under normal cooling and warming patterns, scientists would expect them to find a wider range of plant ages, areas that had previously melted and others were frozen.

"For example, a high-altitude location might stick to its ice for longer," Pendleton said. "But the extent of the warming is so great that everything is melting everywhere now, we have not seen anything so pronounced before."


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