FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pat Viets
Microscopic plant and animal life is providing scientists clues about the climate system that existed as long as 10,000 years ago, David M. Anderson of NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center told attendees of the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco today.
"The variability of sea ice and fresh water export from the Arctic via the East Greenland Current is a fundamental aspect of the climate system, yet little is known about how it varies from decade to decade or from one millennium to the next," Anderson said. "We hypothesize that it might be possible to reconstruct the presence of the East Greenland Current from the stable isotope gradients recorded in foraminifers microscopic marine animals whose calcite skeletons are preserved in seafloor sediments."
Initial calibration studies reveal that
both horizontal and vertical gradients in oxygen and carbon isotopes
are recorded in sediments, Anderson said. By determining the
composition of the sediments, scientists are able to reconstruct
ocean circulation patterns and produce a time series of change
much longer than the 100+ year