Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cosmic dust in ice cores sheds light on Earth's past climate

31.07.2006
The Earth Institute at Columbia University--Each year nearly 40,000 tons of cosmic dust fall to Earth from outer space. Now, the first successful chronological study of extraterrestrial dust in Antarctic ice has shown that this amount has remained largely constant over the past 30,000 years, a finding that could help refine efforts to understand the timing and effects of changes in the Earth's past climate. The same study also used an improved analytical technique to show that dust carried to Antarctica from continental sources changed depending on climate.

The study, which appears in the July 28 issue of the journal Science, involved researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a part of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany. The depth of the core they examined corresponded to the period between 6,800 and 29,000 years before the present day--a span that includes the height of the last glacial period, and the transition to warm conditions similar to today.

The scientists collected particulate matter from the EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica) ice core and measured the concentration of helium-3 (3He), a rare isotope that is plentiful in the sun's solar wind and is carried to Earth imbedded in cosmic dust particles measuring just a few thousandths of a millimeter in diameter. These dust particles carry their exotic helium load to the Earth's surface where they are preserved in the snow and ice of the polar ice caps, among other places.

Because ice cores from the polar caps provide a high-resolution temporal record of the past, the researchers were able to measure fine variations in the rate of cosmic dust accumulation between glacial and interglacial periods as well as the helium isotope characteristics of these rare particles. They found that the accumulation of cosmic dust did not change appreciably as the Earth emerged from the last great Ice Age and entered the current warm period, a fact that is likely to bolster the use of cosmic dust measuring techniques in future climate studies.

In addition, this was the first study to examine both cosmic and terrestrial dust using the same helium-isotope technique. As a result, they also found that the composition of mineral dust particles carried by wind from the southern continents to Antarctica changed considerably as the Earth's climate changed.

"The terrestrial dust coming down on Antarctica during the Ice Age obviously is not the same as that during warm periods," said Gisela Winckler, a Doherty associate research scientist at Lamont-Doherty and lead author on the study. "This may be due to the mineral dust originating from different regional sources or to changes in the process responsible for producing the dust."

Ken Kostel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.earth.columbia.edu
http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate change weakens Walker circulation
20.10.2017 | MARUM - Zentrum für Marine Umweltwissenschaften an der Universität Bremen

nachricht Shallow soils promote savannas in South America
20.10.2017 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>