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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Eurasian Arctic During the Last Ice Age

A vast ice sheet once covered the Barents Sea. Its sudden disappearance 100 centuries ago provides a lesson about western Antarctica today

Anders Elverhøi, Martin Siegert, Julian Dowdeswell, John-Inge Svendsen

It has long been clear that a huge glacial mass covered the Barents Sea and northern parts of Eurasia during the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago. However, the exact boundaries of the ice have been difficult to ascertain, prompting European geologists and glaciologists to focus coordinated research programs on this ancient ice sheet. Understanding the extent of glaciation and the mechanics of how this ice sheet broke apart in the distant past is important to addressing the outstanding question of whether the west Antarctic ice sheet is poised to collapse in the near future. Such an event is worrisome because it would raise sea level by some six meters, flooding coastlines everywhere.


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