Greenland was about eight degrees warmer 130,000 years ago than it is today, an analysis of an almost three-kilometer-long ice core in Greenland has revealed. It is important to understand what happened in Greenland during the Eemian period because the temperatures experienced then are "within the realms of where we are heading", says Etheridge.
However, he says the previous warming was due to the Earth receiving more of the Sun's radiation due to its orbit at the time, while today's warming is being driven by increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The study also shows sea levels were on average 6 meters higher.
The results provide "important benchmarks for future climate change projections" in temperature and the contribution of the two main ice sheets to sea level rises, Rubino says. He says the study also reveals the Greenland ice sheet did not melt as much as previously thought so was not the major contributor to sea level at that time. "It shows the major contribution to sea level rises was not coming from the Greenland ice shelf," he says. "It was previously believed that Greenland melted entirely during the Eemian, but in fact the ice sheet was not that much different from what it is now."