Retreating Ice Exposes Arctic Landscape Unseen for 120,000 Years
The retreat of Arctic glaciers on Baffin Island is exposing landscapes that haven’t seen the sun for nearly 120,000 years.
These rocky vistas have very likely been covered in ice since the Eemian, a period in which average temperatures were up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than present, and sea levels up to 30 feet (9 meters) higher.
The island is ringed with dramatic fjords, but its interior is dominated by high-elevation, relatively flat, tundra plains. These tundra plains are covered with thin ice caps. Because the landscape is so flat, the ice caps don’t flow and slide like typical glaciers. Instead, they simply sit on the underlying rock and soil, preserving everything beneath them like the glass of a museum case.
What’s preserved includes tiny Arctic plants and mosses that were last alive when the ice enveloped the land. As the ice melts, it exposes this ancient, delicate vegetation. Wind and water destroy the long-lost plants within months, but if researchers can get to them first, they can use radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the vegetation. The samples were at least as old as the oldest age that radiocarbon dating can detect: 40,000 years. That’s a direct indication that the plants had been under ice for at least that long.
Over 70,000 march for the climate in Brussels
At least 70,000 people marched on January 27 in Brussels, braving the cold and rain to urge politicians to uphold their promises on countering climate change.
Chanting and holding placards with slogans such as, “Stop denying the Earth’s dying” and “What I stand for is what I stand on,” demonstrators walked through the streets of the Belgian capital towards the European Parliament building to send a message about climate change to European lawmakers.
Protests Across France Call for Action on Climate Change
Thousands gathered in Paris and across France on Sunday to denounce political inaction on battling climate change.
More than 100 demonstrations were planned across France for a weekend of action on the environment. Organisers called on people to come together to discuss practical ideas on how to advance an agenda that would halt or at least slow global warming.
Hundreds of people battled heavy rain and winds in Paris to attend a protest at Place de la République that included representatives from NGOs, scientists and activists as well as the general public.
Throughout the afternoon moderators will run workshops exploring how to make the planet greener and how lawsuits can be an effective tool against climate change. More than 2 million people signed a petition in December to sue the French government for not doing enough to combat climate change, France’s most successful petition ever.
Germany Sets Goal to End Coal Use by 2038
In a pioneering move, a German government-appointed panel has recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest, as part of efforts to curb climate change.
Germany gets more than a third of its electricity from burning coal, generating large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.