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Tipping Points

Neoglacial Climatic Cooling

Figure adapted from Dahl-Jensen et al 1998, Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5387.268

The cooling event Tipping Point researchers are interested in can be seen in the temperature record displayed above (derived from a Greenland ice core borehole). The cooling starts at approximately 4000 years ago in this record. Researchers are studying past climate using two particular records, pollen and non-biting midges (Chironomids) which have been preserved in lake sediments, from western Greenland and northern Norway. The vegetation (source of the pollen) and insects are influenced by a variety of climatic factors when they are alive and analyses of their remains can be used to reconstruct past temperatures. The researchers are focusing on inferring what the climate was like in the North Atlantic region between 4000 and 6000 years ago. During this time period a climatic event, the Neoglacial cooling, occurred. Little is known about the cause of this event, but Tipping Points researchers are hoping to gain a better understanding of the cause of this cooling.

Photo Credit: H. Ranner

Why study the North Atlantic region?

The North Atlantic region is highly sensitive to climate change. It is a unique environment which makes it an excellent place for studying climate. Tipping Points researchers are interested in how the climate changed in the North Atlantic region in the past because there may be important clues for understanding how the Earth's climate may change in the future.