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Greenland Vegetation

20 March 2021

Scientists stunned to discover plants beneath a mile deep of ice on Greenland – the big story of last week. Sent in by William and by Gary. See for example https://phys.org/news/2021-03-scientists-stunned-beneath-mile-deep-green… … and variously https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2021/03/16/uvm-scientists-stunned-to-dis…

Williams link is https://www.yahoo.com/news/ancient-leaves-preserved-under-mile-190707994… … in 1963, inside a US military base in northern Greenland, an ice core was drilled down under the ice [see https://icedrill.org/sites/default/files/SR-126.pdf ]. They extracted an ice core 4 inches across and almost a mile long. At the bottom they came across 12 feet of frozen soil. This was examined and set aside – and forgotten, it would seem. Some 50 years later scientists came across the soil in a Danish freezer. It is now revealing some of its secrets.

At www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9364611/ .. which was sent in by Gary. Same story but with lots of pictures. The soil sample contained twigs, leaves – and fossilised plants. This suggests at some point in the past Greenland was a forested landscape. It seems this was a surprising outcome as they would usually expect sand and rocks beneath an ice sheet. Perhaps they mean a glacier. This was something different, a long term ice sheet. Glaciers, on the other hand, move and pulverise as they go, destroying anything in their path [especially at the snout]. However, Alpine glaciers have revealed medieval buildings and farms, even mine workings, as they melted, and in the Andes, plants were found preserved and in a fresh state under a retreating glacier. Not sure why they think only sand and rocks should suffice. Possibly, the period of time involved. It is thought the plant matter goes back to a million years ago.Others suggest a few hundred thousand years – during one of the interglacial episodes. They will get around to a more exact date. See the research paper at www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2021442118

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