Brøgger Seminar Series
Long-term Consequences of Climate “Tipping Points” viewed from Petermann Glacier, Northern Greenland – A field trip to one of the most remote places on the planet! 

When? 7 June, 14h00
Where? William Ohlson Salen, Geovetenskapens hus


Among the most frightening aspects of human-induced global warming is the possibility that rising greenhouse gases will push Earth’s climate through a point of no return, a so-called “tipping point” beyond which we will not be able to reverse warming, eventually melting the polar ice caps and drowning the world’s coastal cities. Is this really possible? Computer models suggest it is.  But is this real?  Here we look to the geologic record, which can tell us how climatic tipping points occurred in the past, and perhaps how to detect the danger zones, or what it is like to be inside a tipping interval as Earth adjusted to a new stable state at the end of the last ice age, and how fast changes may occur. We will explore these issues from the vantage point of Petermann Glacier, Northwest Greenland. This fjord-bound ice stream is among Greenland’s largest outlet glaciers, connected 800 km into the interior Greenland by a deep canyon about twice the size of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. One of a few major “drains” of Greenland, the glacier has so far been protected from the ocean by a floating ice shelf. In 2010 and 2012 the shelf started to break up, and calved huge icebergs. The Petermann region is remote and poorly known; indeed, prior to 2015 the sea floor was essentially unmapped. The 2015 Petermann Expedition aboard Swedish Icebreaker Oden sought to understand changes in this region with its first comprehensive array of scientific measurements. Discussion will include how understanding the geologic past in places such as Petermann Glacier can inform policies for our future, especially related to global warming and sea-level rise..

Alan Mix, Guest Seminar at the Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University

Alan Mix is a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University ( He is a seagoing oceanographer with 19 expeditions behind him ranging from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic, most recently to Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland. He is interested in large-scale changes in the Earth’s ocean, climate, and biogeochemical systems as illustrated in the geologic past but with particular focus on issues that are relevant for the future. He earned a PhD in Geology from Columbia University (New York) in 1986. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and President Elect of The Oceanography Society. He has served on the US National Research Council, and as Distinguished Lecturer for the US Congress, the International Ocean Drilling Program, and the American Geophysical Union.


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