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: Understanding ancient geomagnetic reversal

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

Strong quake hits east Indonesia; no tsunami threat

22 hours ago

A strong earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Sunday evening, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, and authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Scientists make strides in tsunami warning since 2004

Dec 19, 2014

The 2004 tsunami led to greater global cooperation and improved techniques for detecting waves that could reach faraway shores, even though scientists still cannot predict when an earthquake will strike.

Trade winds ventilate the tropical oceans

Dec 19, 2014

Long-term observations indicate that the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical oceans have expanded in recent decades. The reason is still unknown. Now scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.