The expedition, by the Worldwide Universities Network-sponsored Palaeo-Arctic Climates and Environments (pACE) group, is the first step in developing a major international programme of research for the future.
The focus of the expedition was Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago, high within the Arctic Circle. The sediments there preserve a continuous record from 65 to approximately 33 million years ago, a time interval of crucial importance, when greenhouse conditions gave way to icehouse conditions.
The researchers were particularly interested in the sudden global climate that occurred about 55 million years ago – the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) – which was probably the warmest episode of the last 65 million years.
Although Svalbard lay much at the same latitude 55 million years ago as it does today, some researchers believe that Arctic temperatures reached 25ºC during the PETM. Although this is still somewhat controversial, there is little doubt that latitudinal temperature gradients were very much reduced.
It is from these sediments that Southampton scientists have extracted forms of tropical plankton which are known to have migrated towards the polar region as PETM temperatures increased. The WUN pACE expedition also discovered leaf fossils typical of modern sub-tropical climates, providing further corroboration that the high Arctic had a much warmer climate at this time.
Eighteen scientists and nine graduate students from Southampton, Pennsylvania State, Oslo, Utrecht, Leeds and Sheffield universities took part in the expedition.
David Pilsbury, Chief Executive of WUN, explains: ‘A whole “alphabet soup” of organisations is seeking to set agendas for research into climate change, particularly in the Arctic. However, there are almost no sources of funding to support coherent international approaches to this issue. The WUN pACE program not only aims to foster a new program of research but to create a new cadre of young researchers with the skills necessary to transcend the discipline-bound approaches that can limit the impact of the knowledge we gain about the Earth.’
Dr Ian Harding, of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and a member of the expedition, says: ‘Understanding the palaeoenvironments of past greenhouse episodes is crucial to inform investigations of the potential effects of ongoing climate change.
‘Whilst in the Arctic, the group benefited from detailed explanations of the critical features of the geological successions by experts in a variety of different research fields. Being able to compare these observations and interpretations with the findings of other expedition participants in different geographical areas and different parts of the geological timescale was invaluable. This is something made possible only by the collaboration of an international group of experts.
‘WUN pACE has set an excellent precedent by involving both postgraduate and undergraduate students in the evolution of an international interdisciplinary research project, something that is rarely achieved, and an invaluable learning experience – even if initially a little daunting for some of them!’ he adds.
Senior pACE expedition members will be reconvening in Leeds in January 2008 to discuss the preliminary findings of their pilot study of the samples collected this summer, and to take forward the next phase of their research. This will include formulating a research schedule designed to better understand the behaviour of the different components of the Earth system – vegetation, oceans, climate, and atmosphere – in these high northern latitudes during this critical period of past global climate change.
Sarah Watts | alfa
Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève
What makes erionite carcinogenic?
13.01.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
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...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering