August 16, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Plants Found Two Miles Under Greenland Ice

According to a press release from University of Colorado,1 remnants of pine needles, bark and grass have been pulled up in an ice core from two miles under the Greenland ice sheet, between the bottom of the ice sheet and bedrock.  This is the first time plant material has been found under the Greenland ice, the report says. 

The suspected plant material under about 10,400 feet of ice indicates the Greenland Ice Sheet “formed very fast,” said NGRIP project leader Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute.  “There is a big possibility that this material is several million years old — from a time when trees covered Greenland,” she said.


1Lead: EurekAlert.

The plant remains held in the researcher’s fingers are the scientific facts.  The deduction that trees covered Greenland sometime in the past is logical.  The millions-of-years scenario is storytelling.  But what amazing facts: how did pine trees grow in a place now seen as one of the biggest deep freezers on Earth?  How did the remains survive decay if the climate change was not extremely rapid?  This is one of many indicators of a past temperate climate in northern latitudes that changed suddenly; remember the redwoods under the Arctic? (see 03/22/2002 headline).

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Categories: Fossils

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