August 2009-July 2013
Level of Access
This award will support an investigation of Holocene glacier fluctuations in the Scoresby Sund region of central East Greenland (~70-72¿N, 22-28¿W) along a transect from a coastal maritime setting to the continental conditions adjacent to the Greenland Ice Sheet. The 'Intellectual Merit' of the proposed study lies in the potential to affirm, or otherwise, the widely-held view that the scale of glacier and ice sheet change being observed today in Greenland is not unique in the Holocene. The current recession of glaciers in the Scoresby Sund region is exposing sub-fossil vegetation that grew at times when glaciers were smaller than at present. These emerging records yield a rare opportunity to examine both the biota of these warm times and, more critically, the response of the glaciers to temperatures as high as, or higher than, at present. Development of a chronology for a network of sites in the Scoresby Sund region, including a site adjacent to the Renland ice core, across an environmental gradient can provide insights into recent patterns of ice sheet distribution. However, to place these in context requires a longer temporal framework. Thus, two additional objectives emerge. First, compare late-Holocene glacier fluctuations in Greenland with glacier fluctuations in other mid-to-high Northern Hemisphere locations. This will assess whether glaciers in Greenland are more or less sensitive than their counterparts in other high-latitude locations. Second, document a continuous pattern of glacier fluctuations in Greenland during Holocene time. When contrasted with paleoclimate indicators, such as the GRIP borehole paleotemperature record, how Scoresby Sund glaciers responded to warmer-than-present times, such as the so-called Holocene Climatic Optimum (~5000-9000 years ago), can be assessed. The proposed study has numerous 'Broader Impacts'. It will contribute to the educational development of graduate and undergraduate students at Dartmouth College, the University of Maine, and the University of Cincinnati, and tie in with the IGERT program at Dartmouth College. The PIs will also visit elementary schools and present public lectures on climate change. The results of the study will be added to an interactive, Web-based learning system and stand-alone kiosk deployed at Acadia National Park.
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Hall, Brenda, "Collaborative Research: Sensitivity of Local Glaciers in Central East Greenland to Holocene Climate Change" (2013). University of Maine Office of Research Administration: Grant Reports. 441.