Increasing temperatures that are melting the Greenland Ice Sheet could expose toxic waste buried in the area during the Cold War.
A new study from York University revealed that the melting ice over the United States military base Camp Century are uncovering hazardous substances from the facility used for testing nuclear missiles.
The study was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
The US abandoned the facility and the waste after the base was decommissioned on the assumption that they would be perpetually buried due to the continued snowfall over the area.
“Two generations ago, people were interring waste in different areas of the world, and now climate change is modifying those sites,” said York University climate and glacier scientist and lead author of the new study William Colgan. “It’s a new breed of climate change challenge we have to think about.”
The Arctic has been the most affected by the increasingly warm temperatures than any other region on the planet. The said research revealed that parts of the ice sheet covering Camp Century could start to melt by the end of the century.
Once it melts, the chemical, biological and radioactive waste could re-enter the ecosystem and adversely affect nearby ecosystems, the authors said.
The study also found that the waste at the abandoned camp covers 55 hectares and contains pollutants toxic to human health as well as radioactive material.