The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate

William Colgan, Horst Machguth, Mike MacFerrin, Jeff D. Colgan, Dirk van As, Joseph A. MacGregor

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

22 Citationer (Scopus)


In 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 75 years, 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.

Sider (fra-til)8091-8096
Antal sider6
TidsskriftGeophysical Research Letters
Udgave nummer15
StatusUdgivet - 16 aug. 2016


  • Programområde 5: Natur og klima


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