By studying 120,000-year-old layers in the ice of Greenland, researchers have determined that the ice cover seems to be able to survive a warmer climate better than was previously believed. But at the same time they have found signs that the changes that are nevertheless happening will occur at an unexpectedly rapid rate. The level of the global seas may therefore rise faster than was previously thought.
One example of rapid change was found by scientists who were studying a so-called ice stream, ice that moves like a river through the rest of the inland ice and often forms icebergs at the mouth, so-called calving.
“In just two-three years the speed of a large ice stream nearly doubled. This means that we have underestimated the rapid changes that may ensue from the amounts of ice leaving the ice each year,” says Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, a professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University. Dorthe Dahl-Jensen is taking part this week in the climate conference “Global Environmental Change: The Role of the Arctic”, arranged by the European Science Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, and the Research Council Formas (Sweden).
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen’s research also indicates that the inland ice can cope with a warmer climate considerably better than previous models calculated. Dorthe Dahl-Jensen and her colleagues are now updating the base for these models, for example by studying how ice moved during the so-called Eem Warm Period.
During the Eem Period, some 120,000 years ago, it was on average several degrees warmer than at present. This warmer climate lasted many thousand years. Scientists have been able to determine this using some dozen parameters, including the oxygen content of the ice. They have also taken DNA samples from under the ice cover. The DNA samples show that it was about 400,000 years ago that inland Greenland was last bare ground. By combining these data, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen has created an updated model that shows that a great deal of the inland ice can remain in place even through a long period of warmer climate than we have had had in modern times thus far.
“We are now approaching the climate and the temperatures that prevailed during the Eem Period,” says Dorthe Dahl-Jensen. “In other words, this research is not about abstract reasoning but rather about something that may soon be a concrete reality. The advantage of researching the inland ice is that we can study how the ice was actually impacted by earlier warm periods and compare this to the models we have for calculating what the future ice cover might look like. If the model fits the Eem Period, then I can rely on the model.”
“We scientists mustn’t be ‘fortune-tellers’; we have to be ‘sages.’ We must absolutely not use models that exaggerate the dangers of climate change. We would lose all credibility. That is precisely why this type of research is crucial, since it can be used to confirm or modify the models we researchers present to society.
Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology