Earth's last warm phase exposed

May 02, 2014
Earth's last warm phase exposed
Ice core in the drill head. Past variations of local surface temperatures in polar regions are reconstructed by analysing ice cores drilled in Greenland and Antarctica. Credit: Laurent Augustin

Analysis of data collected from ice cores and marine sediment cores in both polar regions has given scientists a clearer picture of how the Earth's climate changed during the last Interglacial period. This comparatively warm time period occurred between 130,000 and 115,000 years ago.

By lining up the records, and establishing a common chronology, Dr Emilie Capron, from British Antarctic Survey, concluded that Antarctica was a few degrees warmer than it is today and that the Southern Hemisphere warmed earlier than the Northern Hemisphere.

Results from her findings have been presented to the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria this week (27th April – 2nd May 2014).

Dr. Capron said: "To understand our changing climate we need to go back in time. Past warm periods, called interglacials, are particularly interesting because they provide insights as to how current natural changes may interact with those originating from human influences."

The results, which have been submitted to a science journal for publication, will help climate modellers predict future . Questions remain about the contribution Antarctic and Greenland glaciers may make towards rise.

Dr Capron's results not only confirm the last was warmer than today but also that surface temperature peaks weren't uniform across the globe.

Data from more than forty cores were examined as part of the research project.

Antarctic Landscape. Investigating the behaviour of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets during the last interglacial helps to better predict their respective contribution to sea level rise in the context of a future warmer climate. Credit: British Antarctic Survey

The work is part of a broad ranging interdisciplinary programme, the iGlass consortium, which integrates new field data, data synthesis and numerical modelling, in order to study the response of ice volume and sea level to different climatic states during the last five interglacial periods.

Over the last 1 million years, the Earth's climate has alternated between warm interglacial periods and cold glacial periods characterised by the growth of ice sheets in the . Interglacials re-occur roughly every 100,000 years between ice ages. The present interglacial began around 10,000 years ago and has been relatively stable since then.

Explore further: Researchers decipher climate paradox from the Miocene

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mysteriously warm times in Antarctica

Nov 18, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study of Antarctica's past climate reveals that temperatures during the warm periods between ice ages (interglacials) may have been higher than previously thought. The latest analysis ...

Researchers decipher climate paradox from the Miocene

Apr 11, 2014

Scientists of the German Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have deciphered a supposed climate paradox from the Miocene era by means of complex model simulations. ...

Recommended for you

Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia

8 hours ago

Yamal Peninsula in Siberia has recently become world famous. Spectacular sinkholes, appeared as out of nowhere in the permafrost of the area, sparking the speculations of significant release of greenhouse ...

New discovery in Arctic is a very old clam

8 hours ago

The rapidly thawing Arctic Ocean may be a new frontier but some of the latest news from there concerns a clam that is believed to date back more than a million years.

Researchers on expedition to solve 'small island problem'

9 hours ago

Researchers from the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering are starting their new year with an expedition to the island of South Georgia to carry out research into improving weather forecasting. You can follow the team's progress on their blog. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Benni
3.7 / 5 (6) May 02, 2014
........and this report will be undecipherable to the scientifically & mathematically challenged political class who never saw a Rate of Reaction equation they could solve. The whole idea that the last inter-glacial hockey-stick warming period started 10,000 years ago & not 1998 is anathema to their apocalyptic religious convictions from their bible.

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.