An ice core drilled at the Belukha glacier in the Siberian Altai by a Swiss-Russian research team under the leadership of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in 2001 has now provided new findings in climate research. Oxygen isotopes in the ice were used to reconstruct the temperatures in the Altai over the past 750 years.
The scientists discovered a strong link between regional temperatures and the solar activity in the period 1250-1850, concluding that the sun was an important driver of preindustrial temperature changes in the Altai. The observation that the reconstructed temperatures followed the solar forcing with a delay of 10 to 30 years is particularly interesting. The strong rise in temperature in the Altai between 1850 and 2000 can not be explained by solar activity changes, but rather by the increased concentration of the greenhouse gas CO2 in the atmosphere. The researchers report on these findings in the online edition of the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The Altai mountains lie on the border between Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China, in a region with a particularly pronounced continental climate. In 2001, an international research team under the leadership of Margit Schwikowski (Paul Scherrer Institute) drilled a 139 m-long ice core at the Belukha glacier, near the highest mountain of the Altai. Following extensive work in the laboratory, this core has now revealed its secrets.
In the period between 1250 and 1850, the regional temperatures in the Altai showed a high correlation with the reconstructed solar activity. This indicates that the changes in solar activity during this time were a main driver of temperature changes.The temperature follows the sun
This work was undertaken in a collaborative project between the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Bern, together with the Institute for Water and Environmental Problems at Barnaul (Russia).
The Paul Scherrer Institute develops, builds and operates large and complex research facilities, and makes them available to the national and international scientific community. Its own work concentrates on solid-state research and material sciences, elementary particle physics, biology and medicine, energy research and environmental research. With a staff of 1300 and an annual budget of approximately CHF260 million, this is Switzerland’s largest research institution.
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