Greenland’s ice sheet, which could be a major cause of rising sea levels, melted at a record rate in 2010. And a look at an ice field atop the highest mountain in the eastern European Alps suggests that the glacier may hold records of ancient climate extending back as much as a thousand years. We better investigate them quickly before it all melts away.If Greenland’s ice sheet melts, ocean levels would rise by over 20 feet, which would drown coastal cities around the world.

The European glacier, Alto dell’Ortles, is the highest large ice body in the eastern Alps, reaching an altitude of almost 13,000 feet above sea level. However, only 10% of it is likely to hold a good climate record. Researcher Paolo Gabrielli says, "This is a mountain that is very difficult to climb and that has probably prevented researchers and glaciologists from Europe from going up there to study the ice. But it is an ideal observatory to have monitored climatic change in the region in the past as well as currently. "We hope to find out how these three factors interacted. We’d like to find evidence of whether climate conditions influenced the development of agriculture here, or even the start of primitive mining and smelting operations. We may even be able to see indications in the ice record of when people came to the region."

Once full ice cores are retrieved, the samples can be analyzed for a wide range of climate signals, including oxygen isotope ratios, heavy metals, organic material, sulfates, chlorides, dust, pollen and volcanic ash that offer indications of past climate conditions. That record would then be compared to records from other cores drilled from ice caps around the globe. But time is running out! If we don’t see the light soon and do something about climate change, the melting of the glacial ice sheets, and consequent rising of the sea levels, will be a major transformation for the Earth. And we hate to say it, but time may be running out for this wonderful website as well, if we don’t get more support from our readers and listeners. There’s only ONE way to save us: Subscribe today! (and thanks).

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