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One of Greenland's Biggest Secrets Revealed

Antonia R.Antonia R.

For decades, scientists have been wondering how the world's largest island had formed and whether Greenland, as its name suggests, was not the snowy wasteland in the past as it is today.

Two separate analyses by British and American researchers have proven that there wasn't a single chunk of ice in Greenland 11.7 thousand years ago. Researchers have probed beneath the ice sheet which today covers the entire island.

They've found isotopes of chemical elements that have made it deep within the rock under the influence of cosmic rays. The collected data spans the Pleistocene era.

According to scientists, the island had gone through several periods, with no trace of the harsh conditions we see today. The authors of the study theorize that these periods lasted for a total of 280 000 years.

Greenland Glacier

The data was collected in Eastern Greenland, leading to the idea that that part of the island had significantly less ice in the past than today, writes Nature journal.

Earlier this year, the island was also the focus of study due to the melting ice which revealed one of the largest underground networks of American soldiers from the Cold War era.

The tunnels linked together research laboratories, hospitals and even a church, all built in 1959. The facility was powered by a nuclear reactor and now the island's warming poses the threat of radioactive materials seeping out into the surrounding waters.

Camp Century, as the military base was called, housed 200 soldiers and was the US's attempt to position nuclear rockets in the region.

The operation was a joint venture with Denmark, under the code name "Project Iceworm". Ultimately, the end goal was never achieved, as the glaciers moved faster than expected and the base risked being buried under the ice if it weren't relocated.