Antarctic rocks help predict sea levels

Nov 14, 2011

Ancient rocks embedded in the West Antarctic ice sheet could help University scientists improve sea level predictions.

Researchers will determine how long Antarctic rocks at the ice surface have been exposed to - energy from exploding stars in space - during their lifetime.

They will use use sensor technology and chemical analysis to analyse the rocks.

Their findings will indicate whether the ice sheet melted at the warmest point between the two most recent global ice ages, some 120,000 years ago, when sea levels rose by up to six meters.

Melting ice would have exposed the rocks to more cosmic radiation than if they had remained embedded in the ice sheet, where they are now.

The research, led by Edinburgh researchers, will shed light on whether the ice sheet played a role in between the ice ages.

Understanding how the West behaved between ice ages will enable scientists to improve their models of past climates.

This in turn enables more accurate predictions of how sea levels will change as climates continue to warm.

The three-year study is a collaboration with the Universities of Northumbria and Exeter, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, the University of Cologne, and the .

The project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

"Studying these half-a-million-year-old rocks will help us discover whether they have always been where they are now – stuck in the ice sheet – or if the ice sheet melted in warmer climates," said Professor David Sugden, School of GeoSciences.

Explore further: Likely near-simultaneous earthquakes complicate seismic hazard planning for Italy

Provided by University of Edinburgh

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New structure found deep within West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Sep 23, 2004

Ice sheet more susceptible to change than previously thought Scientists have found a remarkable new structure deep within the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which suggests that the whole ice sheet is more susceptible to future ch ...

New findings on why Antarctic ice sheets melt

Jan 17, 2011

Research from Victoria University has revealed new findings on why Antarctic ice sheets have melted in the past, as well as how future melting may affect sea levels.

Recommended for you

Tropical Storm Dolly forms, threatens Mexico

1 hour ago

Tropical Storm Dolly formed off Mexico's northeastern coast on Tuesday and headed toward landfall in Tamaulipas state, threatening to spark floods and mudslides, forecasters said.

Giant garbage patches help redefine ocean boundaries

3 hours ago

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area of environmental concern between Hawaii and California where the ocean surface is marred by scattered pieces of plastic, which outweigh plankton in that part of ...

New satellite maps out Napa Valley earthquake

5 hours ago

Scientists have used a new Earth-observation satellite called Sentinel-1A to map the ground movements caused by the earthquake that shook up California's wine-producing Napa Valley on 24 August 2014.

Rainfall monitoring with mobile phones

5 hours ago

Agriculture, water resource management, drought and flood warnings, etc.: rainfall monitoring is vital in many areas. But the observation networks remain insufficient. This is not the case for antennas for ...

Seismic hazards reassessed in the Andes

5 hours ago

Although being able to predict the date on which the next big earthquake will occur is still some way off becoming a reality, it is now possible to identify the areas where they will occur. IRD researchers ...

User comments : 0