Eco-briefs | Greenland´s ice cores may map future warming

Nicole Larson of Southside Walnut prepares a customer receipt.
Photo by Susan France

A study released by a team of international scientists indicates that Greenland’s ice core layers, which date back 100,000 years, may shed light on the future of global warming.

The recent study is a part of the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling project, led by the University of Copenhagen and involving scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Studying the Greenland ice core layers, formed over millennia by compressed snow, reveals information about temperature, greenhouse gas levels and moisture changes during the last interglacial period: the Eemian. Similar to tree-ring dating, the ice core layers house atmospheric gas bubbles and isotopes that aid in understanding annual climate variations of the past.

Isotopes found in the cores trace changes in greenhouse gas levels and temperature fluctuations of the past. Essentially, the cores provide a “road map” to show where the Earth’s atmosphere is heading in the future, according to a press release from CU.

However, Jim White, lead U.S. investigator on the project, says that today’s anthropogenic warming could override episodic changes such as the Eemian in the future.

“Unfortunately, we have reached a point where there is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere it’s going to be difficult for us to further limit our impact on the planet,” says White. “Our kids and grandkids are definitely going to look back and shake their heads at the inaction of this country’s generation. We are burning the lion’s share of oil and natural gas to benefit our lifestyle, and punting the responsibility for it.”


A University of Texas study on Bisphenol S (BPS), thought to be a safe substitute for the known endocrine-disruptor Bisphenol A (BPA), concluded that Bisphenol S also disrupts cell life. BPS has replaced BPA in consumer plastics and thermal paper, like cash register receipts and the paper ultrasound images are printed on.

The researchers exposed rat cells to BPS and found that exposure even in low doses to the chemical led to changes in how the cells respond to natural estrogen and affected cell proliferation, cell death and prolactin release.

“People automatically think low doses do less than high doses,” Cheryl Watson, a University of Texas biochemistry professor and lead author of the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, told the Environmental Health News. “But both natural hormones and unnatural ones like [BPS] can have effects at surprisingly low doses.”

The hormone changes are reportedly enough to conclude that BPS could have similar health effects to BPA, which has been linked to reproductive problems, obesity and cancers.

A Tufts University postdoctoral fellow who studies BPA said the new research makes a convincing case for eliminating BPS exposure.