New Lake in Greenland

 

Everyone knows that ‘Greenland’ is a misnomer.  There’s not really much green in Greenland, as about 84% of Greenland is covered in ice, and just about all the land is permafrost.  Greenland was named by Eric the Red when he was exiled from Iceland.  He named the land to where he was exiled Greenland in the hopes that it would attract more settlers.  Or maybe he named it because he was predicting a not too bright future.  In the not so far off future, Greenland might be the proper name.  I’m not talking about plate tectonics that might move the continent south, but about climate change.

 

Close to the coast of Greenland, one of the world’s northernmost lakes, Kaffeklubben, has come back to life.  Being situated at such a northern latitude, it has been frozen for over 2,000 years.  However, thanks to global warming, the ice is beginning to thaw and populations of diatoms, which are small, microscopic algae, have been discovered.  These diatoms were once common in Kaffekluben, but have been absent for almost 2,400 years, when they were killed off due to the thick ice, which kept light from penetrating the lake.  With the melting of the ice, which was once 34 feet thick, that allows light to go through the ice and for the algae to grow.

 

Only in 1920, Kaffeklubben was still completely frozen.  Now, since 1960/1970, there has been a growth in the diatom population, due to the warmer summer temperatures.  Although the summer temperatures don’t rise more than a few degrees Celsius every few summers, in Greenland, this makes a lot of difference.

 

A large study was done to determine if this diatom algal bloom was caused by nitrogen pollution, but there was no evidence of excess nitrogen.  Therefore, there is a very strong argument that the increase in diatoms is due to climate change.  Right now, the current diatom population Kaffekluben is the highest in recent memory.