Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fossilised midges provide clues to future climate change

10.07.2007
Fossilised midges have helped scientists at the University of Liverpool identify two episodes of abrupt climate change that suggest the UK climate is not as stable as previously thought.

The episodes were discovered at a study in Hawes Water in Northern Lancashire, where the team used a unique combination of isotope studies and analysis of fossilised midge heads. Together they indicated where the climate shifts occurred and the temperature of the atmosphere at the time.

The first shift detected occurred around 9,000 years ago and the second around 8,000 years ago. Evidence suggests that these shifts were due to changes in the Gulf Stream, which normally keeps the UK climate warm and wet.

During each shift the North West climate cooled with an average summer temperature fall of 1.6 degrees – approximately three times the amount of temperature change currently attributed to global warming.

Scientists found that the atmosphere cooled rapidly and cold periods lasted up to 50 years for one event and 150 years for the other. The detection of these events will allow experts to understand more clearly what can happen when the climate system is disturbed.

Professor Jim Marshall, from the University’s Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, explains: “At Hawes Water mud has been deposited continuously without any gaps, which allows us to measure an accurate timeline of events. We have monitored the modern environment of the lake for the past eight years and this has shown us how to read the past climate record from the ancient mud in the lake.

“Isotope analysis helped us identify the episodes of climate change. We then used fossilised heads of non-biting midges, which are preserved in every spoonful of mud. They tell us the temperature at the time the mud was deposited. We compare the population of midge heads in each sediment sample with the population of midges in Scandinavian lakes, which span a wide range of modern day temperatures.”

The team found the two abrupt climate changes correlated directly with two episodes of sharp climate deterioration in areas such as Greenland, suggesting that a change in the Gulf Stream had occurred.

Professor Marshall added: “People are worried that the melting of the polar ice caps could result in a slow-down of what we call the ‘Atlantic Conveyer’. This is where cold water that sinks in the far north is replaced by warmer water from the tropics in its circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean. A number of studies suggest that the conveyer may be unstable and may be able to slow down or switch off completely, making our climate suddenly colder. Our study provides evidence that the two climate shifts we detected were directly linked to a slow-down in the conveyer.”

Scientists believe that this new data will provided a unique test for the global climate computer models that are being used to simulate future climate change.

The research - in collaboration with University of Swansea; the Open University; University of Exeter; Edge Hill University and University College London - is published in Geology.

Samantha Martin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.liv.ac.uk/newsroom

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>