Under the Greenland ice sheet, 1.4 km deep, they discover fossilized plants
More than a kilometer deep in the water, the signs of life begin to decline, even more so if we are talking about an environment as hostile as Greenland due to its low temperatures. However, this is where a group of scientists has just discover fossilized plants. This suggests that the island was ice-free in the past, also that it could happen again.
Researchers from the University of Vermont They have found fossilized plant remains in Greenland. Specifically 1.4 kilometers deep in a perforated ice core. The remains found correspond to twigs, leaves and vegetable moss. They are not extravagant species, but certainly surprising considering that they were not expected to find remains of flora there.
The fact that they have been found at very low temperatures also has helped to better conserve plants. Although they are fossilized and dead, the plant structures have been perfectly preserved due to their freezing. “They are fossils, but they look like they died yesterday,” says study author Andrew Christ.
Greenland without ice
For dating from when are the remains, the researchers used different methods with which they measured the ice core. The researchers studied the isotope ratios of aluminum and beryllium, which help reveal how long a sample has been buried. By studying luminescence, you can tell when the rest were last exposed to light. The oxygen isotopes in the ice indicated to what elevation the precipitation that formed it fell. Finally the radiocarbon in the wood indicates the age of the sample.
With these measurements, scientists have been able to determine that Greenland was totally or mostly ice-free sometime in the last million years. From there, they deduce that part of the island could have been previously covered with vegetation.
Now is when the bad news comes. The fact that frozen plants have been found also means that Greenland’s ice sheet is more susceptible to climate change than anticipated. This can become a big problem considering that it can change the surrounding ecosystems and raise the sea level up to several meters.
It is not the first time the depths of Greenland or Antarctica surprise us. Recently Have been found living beings 900 meters under the ice. As well there are suggestions that Antarctica was teeming with flora in the past. With current tools we can also discover what’s under the ice of both masses.
Via | ScienceDaily