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800,000 years of abrupt climate variability

09 September 2011

An international team of scientists, led by Dr Stephen Barker of Cardiff University, has produced a prediction of what climate records from Greenland might look like over the last 800,000 years.

Greeland ice sheet web

Drill cores taken from Greenland’s vast ice sheets provided the first clue that Earth’s climate is capable of very rapid transitions and have led to vigorous scientific investigation into the possible causes of abrupt climate change.

Such evidence comes from the accumulation of layers of ancient snow, which compact to form the ice-sheets we see today. Each layer of ice can reveal past temperatures and even evidence for the timing and magnitude of distant storms or volcanic eruptions. By drilling cores in the ice scientists have reconstructed an incredible record of past climates. Until now such temperature records from Greenland have covered only the last 100,000 years or so.

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Ice cores webIce cores

An international team of scientists, led by Dr Stephen Barker of Cardiff University, has produced a prediction of what climate records from Greenland might look like over the last 800,000 years.

Drill cores taken from Greenland’s vast ice sheets provided the first clue that Earth’s climate is capable of very rapid transitions and have led to vigorous scientific investigation into the possible causes of abrupt climate change.

Planktonic foraminifera from a Marine core webPlanktonic foraminifera from a Marine core

Such evidence comes from the accumulation of layers of ancient snow, which compact to form the ice-sheets we see today. Each layer of ice can reveal past temperatures and even evidence for the timing and magnitude of distant storms or volcanic eruptions. By drilling cores in the ice scientists have reconstructed an incredible record of past climates. Until now such temperature records from Greenland have covered only the last 100,000 years or so.

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Dr Stephen Barker discusses abrupt climate variability