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Climate Change Uncovers The Abandoned Camp Century Beneath Greenland Ice Sheet, Could Ruin Marine Ecosystems

First Posted: Aug 08, 2016 06:30 AM EDT

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Camp Century under the surface of the northwestern Greenland Ice Sheet in 1959. This was abandoned including its wastes in 1967. The camp was hidden for almost 50 years and now has been exposed by global warming, according to researchers.

The study was published in Geophysical Research Letters on August 4, 2016. It was led by William Colgan, an assistant professor at York University in Toronto and from Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA and other colleagues.

Researchers stated that the base and its wastes were abandoned with minimal decommissioning in 1967, under the presumption they would be preserved for eternity by perpetually accumulating snowfall. On the other hand, they further said that because of the relentless and accelerating march of man-made climate change, the world is warming and the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else. The result of this is the uncovering of the base to the world.

The base contained 240,000 liters (63,000 gallons) of sewage, 200,000 liters (53,000 gallons) of diesel fuel, a slew of radioactive coolant fluid and toxic construction chemicals that are leaching into the ice sheet. They continued that the vulnerable ice sheet will melt so fast in the future that all these toxic chemicals will be able to escape by 2090, according to IFL Science. Professor Colgan explained that once the site transitions from net snowfall to net melt, it's only a matter of time before the wastes melt out; it becomes irreversible. He further explained that if it leaks into the oceans, the marine ecosystems may be seriously disrupted.

 According to Science Mag, the researchers argued that the responsibility for cleaning up Camp Century could strain the relationships between the Denmark, United States, and Greenland. The representatives of the Greenlandic and Danish governments and U.S. military officials did not respond to requests for comment. Kristian Nielsen, a science historian at Aarhus University in Denmark said that it plays into a discussion about the U.S. and Denmark using Greenland for their own purposes and then the Greenlandic people have to deal with it afterward.

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