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Durham University

Department of Geography

All Future Events

Gordon Manley Memorial Lecture 2019: 'The Frozen Climate Archive: Search for the Oldest Ice'

28th November 2019, 17:15, W103, Applebey Lecture Theatre, Main Geography Building, Robert Mulvaney, Science Leader of the Ice Dynamics and Palaeoclimate team at BAS

Robert Mulvaney is a chemist, glaciologist and palaeoclimatologist, and has been involved in many expeditions to Antarctica and Greenland to recover ice cores for climate research. He was involved with the original EPICA drilling project, and has recently been searching for a new drilling site in Antarctica that might give us an ice core record of perhaps 1.5 million years. A new European project hopes to recover old ice that might tell us why the global climate changed from being driven by obliquity to one dominated by the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit.

The Frozen Climate Archive: Search for the Oldest Ice

Our knowledge of the long-term link between climate and greenhouse gases comes from deep ice cores from the Polar Regions. The ice itself records climate change through the isotopes of water molecules, while bubbles of air trapped in the ice are archives of the past atmosphere. The 'gold standard' record comes from Concordia Station on the East Antarctic plateau, where the European EPICA project showed the close link between climate and the atmosphere spanning 800,000 years, and eight glacial cycles. Through this period the dominant glacial cycle is linked to the ~100,000 year orbital eccentricity, yet marine sediment climate records show that beyond one million years, the dominant cycle is the ~41,000 year orbital obliquity.

This talk will show how we drill the ice, and learn about the climate and atmosphere from deep ice cores, and why we need to find ice older even than the EPICA core to understand our long-term climate evolution. There will be some ancient ice from Antarctica to demonstrate the unique ability of polar ice to archive samples of the past atmosphere.

This is an open lecture and everyone is welcome.

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