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UNraveling PAst Climate as a Key to understanding future CLIMATE (UNPACK CLIMATE)
Start date: Oct 1, 2008, End date: Sep 30, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Climate change is of growing public concern, and an important political priority of the European Union. In order to combat future climate change, it is vital to gain an improved understanding of natural variability, thresholds, and mechanisms in the integrated climate system. Such knowledge requires studying the geological record of the past. For my research I measure small atomic abundance variations of radiogenic isotopes to decipher past changes in ocean circulation patterns and ice sheet evolution on million-year to millennial time scales. The project UNPACK CLIMATE (UNraveling PAst Climate as a Key to understanding future CLIMATE) will address two fundamental questions in the integrated climate system. What is the role of the ocean during past rapid climate change events? The deep ocean stores and transports vast amounts of heat and carbon, and changes in its circulation are likely to influence global climate. Although there are numerous tracers of water mass position in the past we know very little about the flux of each water mass. This hurdle can be overcome by a new proxy I developed to decipher past ocean ventilation rates, combined neodymium isotopes and radiocarbon measurements from absolutely dated deep-sea corals. How stable was the East Antarctic ice sheet over the past 15 million years? The East Antarctic Ice Sheet contains the largest amount of freshwater on earth, and understanding its past stability and potential mechanisms of destabilization seem to be vital in the context of future global warming. The Pliocene warm period (4.5 – 3.0 Ma) was the last time Earth’s climate was significantly warmer than today. I will apply an innovative technique (provenance analyses of ice-rafted debris) to constrain Miocene to Pliocene (~14 – 1.8 Ma) extend and stability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet."
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