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The Abandoned Ice Sheet Base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a Warming ClimateIn 1959 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Camp Century beneath the surface of the northwestern Greenland Ice Sheet. There they studied the feasibility of deploying ballistic missiles within the ice sheet. The base and its wastes were abandoned with minimal decommissioning in 1967, under the assumption they would be preserved for eternity by perpetually accumulating snowfall. Here we show that a transition in ice sheet surface mass balance at Camp Century from net accumulation to net ablation is plausible within the next 75years, under a business-as-usual anthropogenic emissions scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5). Net ablation would guarantee the eventual remobilization of physical, chemical, biological, and radiological wastes abandoned at the site. While Camp Century and four other contemporaneous ice sheet bases were legally established under a Danish-U.S. treaty, the potential remobilization of their abandoned wastes, previously regarded as sequestered, represents an entirely new pathway of political dispute resulting from climate change.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Colgan, William
(York Univ. Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Machguth, Horst
(Zurich Univ. Switzerland)
Macferrin, Mike
(Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO, United States)
Colgan, Jeff D.
(Brown Univ. Providence, RI, United States)
Van As, Dirk
(Geological Survey of Denmark and Greeland Copenhagen, Denmark)
Macgregor, Joseph A.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
April 7, 2017
Publication Date
August 4, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 43
Issue: 15
ISSN: 0094-8276
Subject Category
Environment Pollution
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
ice sheet
Camp Century

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