The Greenland ice sheet is considered a sentinel of climate change and shows signs of accelerated readjustment to the changing climate context.
Rising temperatures are driving the retreat of the ice sheet, which is melting at a rate not seen since at least the satellite era, and affecting the entire Earth through a wide range of feedback processes and climate teleconnection patterns. However, we still do not know whether the current glacier shrinkage is unprecedented in recent geological history.
In this context, NEOGREEN will focus on two ice-free areas in West Greenland that can provide essential data on the spatio-temporal pattern of glacial advance and retreat since the early Neoglacial (last 4 ka): the western margins of the GrIS and a peripheral ice cap. There are numerous glacial records, including moraines, polished surfaces and boulders, which can be used to reconstruct past glacial phases. To this end, we will apply a multiple dating approach at each site, combining absolute (cosmic ray exposure, OSL) and relative (Schmidt hammer, lichenometry) dating techniques.
We will compare our results on past glacial dynamics with available satellite and aerial imagery, old photos and glaciological data to determine whether the recent glacial retreat in West Greenland is an amplified response to ongoing climate change in the Arctic or part of the natural climate variability of the region. Recent landscape changes in newly exposed terrain following glacial retreat will also be examined using remote sensing analysis and field data to reveal the role of climate and weather on vegetation colonisation and soil formation. This may provide insight into the potential response of ecosystems in a future warmer Greenland.