Core science reveals Arctic's hot past
5 June 2006
A sample of sediment excavated from over 1,000 feet below the floor of the Arctic, has allowed scientists to look into the region's distant past.
Experts from the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS) have, as part of international teams, contributed to 3 papers published this week in Nature (June 1st 2006). Their work is part of the Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX), which used ice breaking ships and a drilling rig to take samples from beneath the Arctic seabed from Siberia to Greenland.
The teams have charted the changes that took place in the Arctic around 50-55 million years ago and have, through analysing the legacy of minerals and fossils found in the sample cores, been able to create a picture of Arctic climate history when sea temperatures rose. This reveals that a near-tropical arctic warming event - known as the Palaeocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum which took place due to natural climate change.
The scientists say the data will be used by climate modellers to give better information about how climate change occurs.
1. ACEX is part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) The IODP involves scientists from Europe, Japan and the USA who will investigate many of the Earth's regions that were previously inaccessible in earlier ocean drilling programmes. NERC is investing £12·5m in the programme, which will run until 2013.
2. BGS is one of the Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) wholly owned Research Centres. NOCS is jointly owned by NERC and the University of Southampton.
Briefing note: 33/06
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