Researchers have found that dust blown south to Antarctica from the windy plains of Patagonia – and deposited in the ice periodically over 80,000 years – provides vital information about glacier activity.
Scientists hope the findings will help them to better understand how the global climate has changed during the past ice age, and so help predict environmental changes in the future.
The study indicates that the ebb and flow of glaciers in the Chilean and Argentinian region is a rich source of information about past climates – which had not until now been fully appreciated by scientists.
The study, carried out by the Universities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Lille, shows that the very coldest periods of the last ice age correspond with the dustiest periods in Antarctica's past.
During these times, glaciers in Patagonia were at their biggest and released their meltwater, containing dust particles, on to barren windy plains, from where dust was blown to Antarctica. When the glaciers retreated even slightly, their meltwater ran into lakes at the edge of the ice, which trapped the dust, so that fewer particles were blown across the ocean to Antarctica.
Dust from the ice cores was analysed and found to be a close match with mud of the same age in the Magellan Straits, showing that most of the dust originated in this region.
The study was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council. The findings were published in Nature Geoscience.
Professor David Sugden, of the University of Edinburgh, said: "Ice cores from the Antarctic ice sheet act as a record of global environment. However, the dust levels showed some sudden changes which had us puzzled – until we realised that the Patagonian glaciers were acting as an on/off switch for releasing dust into the atmosphere."
Catriona Kelly | EurekAlert!
Hidden river once flowed beneath Antarctic ice
22.08.2017 | Rice University
Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter
17.08.2017 | Swansea University
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences