Climate Change: Ice Samples From Greenland, Russia Provide Past Clues

First Posted: Sep 29, 2015 05:35 PM EDT

Researchers at the University of Birmingham discovered evidence of organic dust – otherwise known as carbonaceous aerosols – transported from Asia and deposited in the Arctic over the last 450 years. These could represent extreme broad scale changes in the Northern hemisphere. 

"Climate models predict that the Arctic Oscillation will increasingly move into its positive mode of wetter and windier weather in the North as a response to increases in greenhouse gases and global warming," lead investigator Dr. James Bendle, said in a news release"If this is the case, our research suggests that there could be increased transport of dust and carbonaceous aerosols to the Arctic. As these organic rich dusts are dark in color, they could start to lower the reflectance of the snow and ice covered surfaces in the Arctic, leading to an even warmer regional climate."

The scientists carried out their research by studying two ice-cores that were collected from icecaps more than 6000km apart: One from Greenland and the other from Kamchatka in eastern Russia. They noted the striking similarity of the ice core records, considering the geographical separation between the two sites.

Based on this information, the researchers are confident that their records represent broad scale changes in the northern Hemisphere and not just local factors. The ice-cores have revolutionized the study of past climates due to the numerous evidence that they preserve, which include trapped bubbles of gases such as methane and carbon dioxide.

By examining meteorological records from the past 450 years, the researchers discovered that the concentrations of the organic dust were at their highest during periods when the Arctic Oscillation was stronger; this gives the researchers hope that certain changes found in the northern Hemisphere are not just local factors.

More information regarding the study can be seen in the journal Nature Scientific Reports

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