Picture Climate: What Can We Learn from Ice?

An ice core is a cylindrical sample of a rocky object consisting mostly of water ice. As shown in the image at the right, the long axis is in the direction of the coring into the object from its outer surface. A diagram showing the components of a drill is at the right. The coring end of the drill has knives attached as shown in the image at the left. The drill above the knives is a hollow steel tube. The inner tube holds the ice core and the outer tube collects the cuttings or shavings from the action of the knives.

Climate Data Information

Ice cores are cylinders of ice drilled out of an ice sheet or glacier. Most ice core records come from Antarctica and Greenland, and the longest ice cores extend to 3km in depth. The oldest continuous ice core records to date extend , years in Greenland and , years in Antarctica.

Now, I’ll openly admit that ice core dating is not my area of expertise, but Porosity is also another term scientists use to describe the amount of.

E-mail: franschwanck gmail. E-mail: handley maine. An ice core, Trace element concentrations in 2, samples were determined using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Natural dust contributions, mainly derived from the arid areas of Patagonia and Australia, are important sources for aluminum, barium, iron, manganese and titanium. Marine aerosols from sea ice and transported by air masses are important sources of sodium and magnesium.

Calcium, potassium and strontium showed considerable inputs of both continental dust and marine aerosols. Air temperature on the surface of the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica have increased dramatically in recent decades with some reports suggesting that these are the regions which are warming faster on Earth Turner et al. Weather information obtained from ice cores in Antarctica provide a longer and detailed historical record than the currently available from instrumental observations.

However, most of these records are sites in East Antarctica. Often, climate reconstructions from West Antarctica are discarded for producing inconsistent results due to discontinuous records and the lack of data Monaghan et al. Places with such influence are important because they reflect more directly the atmospheric conditions resulting from changes in ocean circulation and sea ice extent.

Ice core basics

Ice consists of water molecules made of atoms that come in versions with slightly different mass, so-called isotopes. Variations in the abundance of the heavy isotopes relative to the most common isotopes can be measured and are found to reflect the temperature variations through the year. The graph below shows how the isotopes correlate with the local temperature over a few years in the early s at the GRIP drill site:.

The dashed lines indicate the winter layers and define the annual layers. How far back in time the annual layers can be identified depends on the thickness of the layers, which again depends on the amount of annual snowfall, the accumulation, and how deep the layers have moved into the ice sheet.

Bubbles of greenhouse gases trapped in ice shed new light on an important Dating blue ice is a “key difficulty” in ice core analysis, given its These results contradict the idea that a long-term decline in carbon dioxide.

Ice cores are highly valued in paleoclimate research because they record environmental parameters that range on spatial scales from individual snowflakes to the Earth’s atmosphere and on time scales from hours to hundreds of millennia. Ice cores are our only source of samples of the paleoatmosphere. They are especially valuable for investigating climate forcing and response, because they record many aspects of the climate system in a common, well-dated archive.

The main objective of the WAIS West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core project drilling operations from was to investigate climate from the last glacial period to modern conditions, with greater time resolution than previous Antarctic ice cores. In addition, the project investigated the dynamics of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and cryobiology. The distinguishing characteristic of the project was the development of environmental records of the last glacial period and early Holocene, with greater time resolution and dating precision than previous Antarctic ice cores.

This is particularly true for the records of atmospheric gases, water isotopes, and chemistry. Map of West Antarctica. Waesche MW are shown. Ice shelves are shown in gray. Siple Coast and Amundsen Sea ice streams are shown by blue shading. Contour interval is meters. Credit: T.

East Greenland ice core dust record reveals timing of Greenland ice sheet advance and retreat

And it is ice that draws paleoclimatologists literally to the ends of the Earth in the quest for knowledge about where our planet has been, where it is, and where it might be going. Ice cores provide a unique contribution to our view of past climate because the bubbles within the ice capture the gas concentration of our well-mixed atmosphere while the ice itself records other properties. Scientists obtain this information by traveling to ice sheets, like Antarctica or Greenland, and using a special drill that bores down into the ice and removes a cylindrical tube called an ice core.

Drilling thousands of meters into ice is a feat of technology, endurance, and persistence in extreme environments, exemplified by the joint Russian, U.

Layer dating by this type of counting is reliable in polar ice cores, as the original Previous studies show that deposition of dust presents a well-defined.

Based on an early Greenland ice core record produced back in , versions of the graph have, variously, mislabeled the x-axis, excluded the modern observational temperature record and conflated a single location in Greenland with the whole world. More recently, researchers have drilled numerous additional ice cores throughout Greenland and produced an updated estimate past Greenland temperatures. This modern temperature reconstruction, combined with observational records over the past century, shows that current temperatures in Greenland are warmer than any period in the past 2, years.

However, warming is expected to continue in the future as human actions continue to emit greenhouse gases, primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels. Climate models project that if emissions continue, by , Greenland temperatures will exceed anything seen since the last interglacial period , around , years ago. Widespread thermometer measurements of temperatures only extend back to the mids.

Ice cores and climate change

E-mails: ufrgs. E-mail: sharon. The study of atmospheric aerosols through polar ice cores is one of the most common and robust tools for the investigation of past changes in the circulation and chemistry of the atmosphere. Only a few subannual resolution records are available for the development of paleochemical and environmental interpretations. Here, we report the ionic content record for the period of A.

The samples they collect from the ice, called ice cores, hold a record of Scientists also use computer modeling techniques that can help to.

Find out why ice core research is so important for our understanding of climate change and how we drill and analyse the ice cores. For a detailed look at how ice cores are recovered from Antarctica watch this video. Why do scientists drill ice cores? What makes ice cores so useful for climate research? Where do you drill them? How deep are the ice cores drilled? What has so far been discovered with ice core research?

How are ice cores dated?

Any groups that have been impacted by the tour shutdown will be prioritized when we resume tour operations. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Glaciers form as layers of snow accumulate on top of each other. Each layer of snow is different in chemistry and texture, summer snow differing from winter snow.

What has precluded its use in ice core science to date is the large date our samples using stratigraphic matching techniques and show an.

Thank you for visiting nature. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer. In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript. A Nature Research Journal. Here we use a continuous ice core dust record from the Renland ice cap on the east coast of Greenland to constrain the timing of changes to the ice sheet margin and relative sea level over the last glacial cycle.

During the Holocene and the previous interglacial period Eemian the dust record was dominated by coarse particles consistent with rock samples from central East Greenland. From the coarse particle concentration record we infer the East Greenland ice sheet margin advanced from These findings constrain the possible response of the Greenland ice sheet to climate forcings. Although ice cores are geographical point measurements, they represent a record of air, water and aerosols transported to the ice over regional or even hemispheric scales.

In contrast, reconstructions of past ice sheet limits are typically limited to the locations of the individual measurements 1 , 2. These measurements include dating of moraines and subglacial rocks by cosmogenic surface-exposure methods and radiocarbon dating of exposed organic material 3.

Studying Ice Cores to Understand the Earth’s Climate