Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research Team Studies Antarctica’s Climate Past

15.10.2010
Some middle school students will get a unique perspective on research conducted more than 9,000 miles away by a team that includes a veteran of Antarctic expeditions.

A five-member team from North Dakota State University’s Department of Geosciences heads to Antarctica this October to conduct research on Antarctica’s climate history.

The team, whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation, includes Allan Ashworth, distinguished professor of geosciences; Adam Lewis, assistant professor of geosciences; geology undergraduate students Michael Ginsbach and Chad Crotty, and Alex Smith, graduate student in environmental and conservation sciences.

The team will divide their efforts between mapping glacial deposits and collecting fossils of tundra plants and animals from which they will derive estimates of summer temperatures. Smith will focus his graduate research on using deposits of volcanic ash to precisely date the ancient glacial deposits. Initial work suggests the fossils are more than 19 million years old, suggesting they date from a time before the continent was buried beneath the massive ice sheet of today.

The team flies to New Zealand to be supplied with cold-weather gear before heading to McMurdo Station, the U.S. National Science Foundation's base of Antarctic operations. From McMurdo, the NDSU team will establish a helicopter-supported tent camp in the Dry Valleys region and later will move by ski-equipped aircraft to Oliver Bluffs, some 300 miles from the South Pole. Work at Oliver Bluffs presents unique challenges. Long supply routes complicate logistics and the terrain includes glacier ice, loose rocky soils and near-vertical cliff faces. The team will spend seven weeks in the field before returning to Fargo in late December.

To encourage K-12 students’ interest in science, the NDSU team will make weekly contact with several elementary and middle school classrooms in the Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn., area using a satellite phone system. Ginsbach, who is pursuing a second major in education, is coordinating communications through Ben Franklin Middle School, Fargo, N.D. The group plans to relay weekly research goals to participating classrooms, with follow-up conversations to discuss successes and setbacks.

The areas of Antarctica that the NDSU field team will conduct research are areas where Ashworth started his Antarctic research 15 years ago. As Ashworth expects this to be his last research expedition to Antarctica, he says his many expeditions to the frozen continent and the rewards of the research have been a “totally uplifting experience not to have been missed.”

Previously, an international team of scientists including NDSU’s Ashworth and Lewis, and David Marchant, an earth scientist at Boston University, combined evidence from glacial geology, paleoecology, dating of volcanic ashes and computer modeling, to report a major climate change centered on 14 million years ago. The earlier discovery of fossilized ostracods received global interest.

Ashworth and Lewis, along with then NDSU students Andrew Podoll and Kelly Gorz, were featured in the documentary, “Ice People,” by Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Anne Aghion. The film has been screened at science museums and film festivals in Australia, Vancouver, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Jerusalem and Fargo.

The Ashworth Glacier within the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica has been named after Dr. Ashworth, honoring his significant contribution to science (palaenontology and stratigraphy) in Antarctica. Discoveries by Ashworth and his teams in Oliver Bluffs in the Beardmore region include the first fossil beetles and a fossil fly from Antarctica, as well as fossil mosses and seeds showing that Antarctica was not always the cold, icy place that it is today.

Ashworth currently serves as chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union for Quaternary Research and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Quaternary Science.

The research described here is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation’s Polar Programs.

For more information:
Dr. Allan Ashworth, North Dakota State University
www.ndsu.nodak.edu/instruct/ashworth/
Dr. Adam R. Lewis, North Dakota State University
http://www.ndsu.nodak.edu/pubweb/~adalewis/Adam_Lewis.html
National Science Foundation
Antarctic fossils paint a picture of a much warmer continent
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=111913
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
http://www.pnas.org/content/105/31/10676
Ice People
http://www.icepeople.com
Science Magazine
“Freeze-Dried Findings Support a Tale of Two Ancient Climates”
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/320/5880/1152

Dr. Allan Ashworth | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ndsu.nodak.edu/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

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...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

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...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

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...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

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)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>