This team of of scientists and engineers are camped above an abandoned Cold War military base that’s buried 30 meters below Greenland’s ice sheet. William: “That is Delta storm condition.” They’re part of a special climate monitoring program, because the underground base that they’re studying, could eventually thaw out and unearth thousands of tons of toxic waste.
During the early years of the Cold War, the U.S. started paying close attention to Greenland. To protect the island from creeping Soviet influence, the US and Denmark signed the 1951 Defense of Greenland Act. Army personnel put the latest advances in polar construction to the test, building several military bases out on the ice sheet. One of them was Camp Century.
According to William Colgan, a climatologist with the Geological Survey of Greenland and Denmark, “Researchers were doing a lot of very fundamental glacier and climate research. Camp Century is probably best known for being home of the first deep ice core to the Greenland ice sheet. It's like nothing we have today. It was just this phenomenal marriage of technology and innovation in the 1960s.”
But, this scientific endeavor was actually part of a covert U.S. Army operation, codenamed Project Iceworm. In response to escalating Cold War tensions, the U.S. wanted to position 600 medium range missiles with nuclear warheads underneath the Greenland ice sheet. All was going according to plan, until engineers noticed the ice that surrounded the base was shifting faster than initially projected.
Watch the video above to find out what happened next.