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How Greenland got its ice

Nature volume 515, page 469 (27 November 2014) | Download Citation

Changes in Earth's mantle and crust allowed Greenland to accumulate its massive ice sheet over the past few million years.

Bernhard Steinberger of the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam and his colleagues used various models to reconstruct past plate-tectonic activity. They found that pulses of molten rock from deep within Earth rose up and thinned the overlying crust, which led to an uplift of eastern Greenland by more than 3 kilometres above sea level. Then, two rotations of the crust carrying Greenland shifted it 18° farther north in latitude. Once high and northerly enough, Greenland could begin accumulating ice year-round.

The discovery shows how changes deep inside Earth can drive environmental changes on the surface.

Terra Nova (2014)

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