Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

International Greenland ice coring effort sets new drilling record in 2009

28.08.2009
Ancient ice cores expected to help scientists assess risks of abrupt climate change in future

A new international research effort on the Greenland ice sheet with the University of Colorado at Boulder as the lead U.S. institution set a record for single-season deep ice-core drilling this summer, recovering more than a mile of ice core that is expected to help scientists better assess the risks of abrupt climate change in the future.

The project, known as the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling, or NEEM, is being undertaken by 14 nations and is led by the University of Copenhagen. The goal is to retrieve ice from the last interglacial episode known as the Eemian Period that ended about 120,000 years ago. The period was warmer than today, with less ice in Greenland and 15-foot higher sea levels than present -- conditions similar to those Earth faces as it warms in the coming century and beyond, said CU-Boulder Professor Jim White, who is leading the U.S. research contingent.

While three previous Greenland ice cores drilled in the past 20 years covered the last ice age and the period of warming to the present, the deeper ice layers representing the warm Eemian and the period of transition to the ice age were compressed and folded, making them difficult to interpret, said White. Radar measurements taken through the ice sheet from above the NEEM site indicate the Eemian ice layers below are thicker, more intact and likely contain more accurate, specific information, he said.

"Every time we drill a new ice core, we learn a lot more about how Earth's climate functions," said White, "The Eemian period is the best analog we have for future warming on Earth."

Annual ice layers formed over millennia in Greenland by compressed snow reveal information on past temperatures and precipitation levels and the contents of ancient atmospheres, said White, who directs CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Ice cores exhumed during previous drilling efforts revealed abrupt temperature spikes of more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 50 years in the Northern Hemisphere.

The NEEM team reached a depth of 5,767 feet in early August, where ice layers date to 38,500 years ago during a cold glacial period preceding the present interglacial, or warm period. The team hopes to hit bedrock at 8,350 feet at the end of next summer, reaching ice deposited during the warm Eemian period that lasted from roughly 130,000 to 120,000 years ago before the planet began to cool and ice up once again.

The NEEM project began in 2008 with the construction of a state-of-the-art facility, including a large dome, the drilling rig for extracting 3-inch-diameter ice cores, drilling trenches, laboratories and living quarters. The official drilling started in June of this year. The United States is leading the laboratory analysis of atmospheric gases trapped in bubbles within the NEEM ice cores, including greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, said White.

The NEEM project is led by the University of Copenhagen's Centre of Ice and Climate directed by Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen. The United States and Denmark are the two leading partners in the project. The U.S. effort is funded by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs.

"Evidence from ancient ice cores tell us that when greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, the climate warms," said White. "And when the climate warms, ice sheets melt and sea levels rise. If we see comparable rises in sea level in the future like we have seen in the ice-core record, we can pretty much say good-bye to American coastal cities like Miami, Houston, Norfolk, New Orleans and Oakland."

Increased warming on Earth also has a host of other potentially deleterious effects, including changes in ecosystems, wildlife extinctions, the growing spread of disease, potentially catastrophic heat waves and increases in severe weather events, according to scientists.

While ice cores pinpoint abrupt climate change events as Earth has passed in and out of glacial periods, the warming trend during the present interglacial period is caused primarily by human activities like fossil fuel burning, White said. "What makes this warming trend fundamentally different from past warming events is that this one is driven by human activity and involves human responsibility, morals and ethics."

Other nations involved in the project include the United States, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Other CU-Boulder participants in the NEEM effort include INSTAAR postdoctoral researcher Vasilii Petrenko and Environmental Studies Program doctoral student Tyler Jones. Other U.S. institutions collaborating in the international NEEM effort include Oregon State University, Penn State, the University of California, San Diego and Dartmouth College.

For more information on the NEEM project, including images and video, visit http://www.neem.ku.dk.

Jim White | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>