Caption: UW-Madison student Richard Becker samples rock near Lago Buenos Aires, Argentina. Samples of quartz-bearing rock from boulders deposited thousands of years ago by ice age glaciers in South America are providing scientists with clues to ancient climate and natural global climate change.
Photo by: courtesy Daniel Douglass
An answer to the long-standing riddle of whether the Earth’s ice ages occurred simultaneously in both the Southern and Northern hemispheres is emerging from the glacial deposits found in the high desert east of the Andes.
Using a new technique to gauge the effects of cosmic rays on minerals found in boulders carried by South American glaciers thousands of years ago, a group of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has demonstrated that the Earth’s most recent ice ages were global events, likely driven by change in the atmosphere.
The work, reported in the current (March/April) issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin, a leading earth science journal, is important because it reveals that ice ages were global in nature, a fact scientists had trouble determining due to the difficulty of precisely dating the jumble of debris - sand, gravel, clay, boulders - that ice age glaciers leave in their wakes. The new work suggests that ice ages were worldwide phenomena due, in part, to the sluggish redistribution of solar energy through the world’s oceans punctuated by repeated, rapid cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere.
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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.
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