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A Forested Southern Greenland!


Ancient Biomolecules from Deep Ice Cores Reveal a Forested Southern Greenland

All of the below is cut & pasted from:

et al. Eske Willerslev,

Science 6 July 2007: Vol. 317. no. 5834, pp. 111 - 114, DOI: 10.1126/science.1141758



We show that high-altitude southern Greenland, currently lying below more than 2 kilometers of ice, was inhabited by a diverse array of conifer trees and insects within the past million years. The results provide direct evidence in support of a forested southern Greenland. . .








The plant taxa suggest that this period had average July temperatures that exceeded 10°C and winter temperatures not colder than –17°C, which are the limits for northern boreal forest and Taxus, respectively (1). Allowing  for full recovery of the isostatic depression that is produced by 2 km of ice, Dye 3 would have been ~1 km above sea level. In combination, these factors suggest that a high-altitude boreal forest at Dye 3 may date back to a period considerably warmer than present.


The taxa identified include trees such as alder (Alnus), spruce (Picea), pine (Pinus), and members of the yew family (Taxaceae) (Table 1).  Their presence indicates a northern boreal forest ecosystem rather than today’s Arctic environment. The other groups identified, including Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Poaceae, are mainly herbaceous plants and are represented by many species found in northern regions at present (Table 1).  The presence of these herb-dominated families suggests an open forest where heliophytes thrived.



The core from Dye 3, located almost exactly 2000 km to the southwest of the Kap København Formation (Fig. 1A), therefore, provides direct evidence of a forested southerncentral Greenland. The invertebrate sequences obtained from the Dye 3 silty ice are related to beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), spiders (Arachnida), brushfoots (Nymphalidae), and other butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) (taxonomic identification probability support between 50 and 99%).

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