Category: post expedition work

21 July, 2013 – Vulnerability of the large East Antarctic Ice Sheet to rising temperatures

 Background: Concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have surpassed a level of 400pm in May 2013, a concentration that has not been observed in the earth’s atmosphere for a long, long time. To find similarly high concentrations, we have to go beyond times scales that we, or our ancestors, can directly study and observe. Instead we have to use the geological past and go all the way back to a time called the Pliocene epoch (2.6-5.3 million years ago). The Pliocene is the most recent time in the geological past when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were similar to today. We can hence use it as a natural laboratory to study mechanisms and consequences of climate change.

2 August, 2012 – Antarctica was very warm indeed some 52 million years ago …

It is just a bit more than two years since I made my last post here, and since we had the sampling party to take the material from our fantastic expedition back home.

Today, the first major scientific results of our endeavour were published in the journal Nature. The team led by Jorg Pross, which included myself and my graduate student Claire Huck, found amazing evidence from spores and pollen in the very old cores we recovered. These cores reached back to the early Eocene, a time which is often described as part of the ‘Greenhouse world’. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were a lot higher back then, probably similar to what we would get when burning all our fossil fuels.

5 July, 2010 – Sampling Party!

Finally the long time without my ship mates was over …

From 15 June to 25 June many of the shipboard participants from IODP expedition 318 met again in College Station, Texas, to bring the first stage of our science mission to conclusion, and make a start to the second stage. The first stage of course was the seagoing part, which you all could follow through the blogs. As I mentioned in my blogs, part of the job when sailing as a scientist in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme is to write a lot of reports. Every time we finished drilling at a new site in the ocean, a full report had to be written up, describing the operational side of things, but also the sediments we found, what ages they had, and what their physical properties and geochemical composition was.