Japanese scientists have observed nearly 800,000 years worth of climate history from an ice core sample.
Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research extracted a two-mile-long ice core from an Antarctic ridge. The sample will provide scientists with insight into the Earth’s climate history, and it will also give scientists a glimpse at future climate change patterns.
“In projecting climate change, we’re going into unknown territory,” said Tom Delworth, a geophysicist at Princeton University who wasn’t involved in the study. “The more we understand how the past works — because the past had very different climates — that gives us better confidence in projecting into the future.”
The ice layers can tell scientists about the environmental conditions from when the ice sheets formed. If there is dust present, it tells the scientist there were dry and windy spells, and the molecular composition indicates whether the sheet of ice formed during a warm or cold spell.
By observing the Earth’s climate history, scientists are able to narrow their predictions about the future.