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Lassonde Professor unearths Greenland Military Base


Lassonde professor and glaciologist William Colgan is part of the team that has made a discovery that climate change may unearth a U.S. military base built-in 1959. Camp Century was used as a nuclear-testing facility during the Cold War era and was decommissioned in 1967.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters found that as global temperatures rise, the Greenland Ice Sheet will continue regressing, exposing the remnants of the camp. The original disposal method of the site was based on the assumption that continued snowfall would bury the camp.

“Two generations ago, people were interring waste in different areas of the world, and now climate change is modifying those sites,” says Prof. Colgan who is the lead author of the study.

The implications of the melt may be political as well as environmental, as questions arise about responsibility for clean-up.  The site currently houses low-level radioactive coolant, water waste and polychlorinated biphenyls pollutants.

The site could transition from having a buildup of snow to having primarily melting conditions as early as 2090.

Colgan will be teaching at Lassonde during the first semester of this academic year with the Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering before returning to Greenland to continue his glaciology research.

Professor Colgan’s interview on the study can be found in the video below.


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