Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oceanographers collect 1.5 million year record of climate change in Africa

19.04.2005


Scientists drill into sediments of one of the world’s oldest, deepest lakes to improve understanding of global climate change



Four University of Rhode Island oceanographers and colleagues from four other universities recently probed the ancient sediments beneath Lake Malawi in East Africa and recovered sediment samples that provide up to 1.5 million years of information about how climate in Africa has changed – the longest continuous record of such data ever collected from that continent.

Just completed last month, the challenging expedition was managed by URI Associate Professor of Oceanography Kate Moran, and the URI scientific team included Professor John King and graduate students Meghan Paulson, Nathan Vinhateirot and Chip Heil.


Lake Malawi is considered by many scientists to be among the natural wonders of the world. It is one of world’s deepest (700 meters) and oldest (more than 5 million years) lakes, and contains a rich assemblage of biological species found nowhere else on earth. Longer than Lake Michigan, it is situated in tropical latitudes that serve as the atmosphere’s heat engine, and the region plays a major role in driving global climate dynamics.

"The role of the tropics within the global climate system is not well understood at present. The results of this project will significantly improve our overall understanding of the global climate system," explained King, a professor of oceanography at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

Results from the research will also contribute to a better understanding of African climate and improved weather predictions in this region of recurring drought, famine and human suffering. The project has the added benefit of recovering an archive of environmental change that occurred in concert with human evolution in East Africa.

"The lake has restricted circulation and virtually no oxygen at the bottom, so each year seasonal deposition of sediment creates a pattern like tree rings," King said. "With the cores we collected we’ll be able to look at very old records of climate data simply by counting and analyzing the layers."

The researchers from URI, Syracuse University, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, the University of Arizona, and the University of Bergen (Norway) chose to drill Lake Malawi because its unique location and geology will enable them to reconstruct a high-resolution, tropical climate history stretching back through the time when massive ice sheets periodically covered high-latitude North America and Eurasia. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and the International Continental Drilling Program.

In total, 623 meters of core samples were recovered from below the lake bottom, the oldest of which are about 1.5 million years in age. In the coming months, the scientists – joined by those from the Malawi Geological Survey -- will undertake a variety of analyses and inspections of the sediment samples to predict the future impact of global warming.

The project faced very difficult engineering and logistical challenges, the first of which required construction of a drilling vessel on land-locked Lake Malawi. The project used an old, 160-foot, fuel barge as the drilling platform, but had to ship into interior Africa the drilling rig, custom-designed sampling tools, and a portable dynamic positioning system designed to stabilize the drilling vessel in one spot in deep water for weeks at a time in sustained winds as high as 35 knots and waves of up to six feet in height.

"No one has done this kind of drilling on an interior lake before, much less one in Africa, so the technical and logistical obstacles we faced were quite challenging," Moran said.

Todd McLeish | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uri.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>