Glaciology: Secrets of the Icecap

Five hundred years before the arrival of other Europeans in the New World, Vikings settled in Greenland and founded a colony that eventually grew to 3,000 people. During the 12th century, the Norsemen began returning to Europe; by 1410 they had completely abandoned Greenland. For years historians have debated the cause of the mysterious demise. Were the Vikings driven out by hostile natives? Did excessive inbreeding cause genetic deterioration of the tough Norse stock? Now scientists have suggested a simpler explanation: the mild weather that the Vikings originally encountered in Greenland gradually changed and became too harsh even for...

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