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Glaciers as records of climate Ice cores: –Detailed records of temperature, precipitation, volcanic eruptions –Go back hundred of thousands years.

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Presentation on theme: "Glaciers as records of climate Ice cores: –Detailed records of temperature, precipitation, volcanic eruptions –Go back hundred of thousands years."— Presentation transcript:

1 Glaciers as records of climate Ice cores: –Detailed records of temperature, precipitation, volcanic eruptions –Go back hundred of thousands years

2 Past climate reconstructions Instrumental records –Global air temperature: limited records Proxy records of climate –proxy = a measure of climate conditions of the past –clues such as temperature, precipitation –EX: ICE-CORES

3 Global temperature- instrumental record

4 Global temperature- reconstructed

5 Methods of Dating Ice Cores Counting of Annual Layers –Temperature Dependent –Marker: ratio of 18O to 16O –find number of years that the ice-core accumulated over –Very time consuming; some errors Using volcanic eruptions as Markers –Marker: volcanic ash and chemicals washed out of the atmosphere by precipitation –use recorded volcanic eruptions to calibrate age of the ice- core –must know date of the eruption

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7 How do we reconstruct past climate from ice cores? Oxygen Isotope analysis: –Examining type of water isotopes contained in ice –Gives clues about temperature at time of deposition

8 Isotopes Defined NameElectronsProtonsNeutronsAbundance 16 O % 18 O % Isotope = atoms of the same element with a different number of neutrons (different mass) Example: Oxygen Isotopes

9 Stable Isotopes 16 O (Light Element) 18 O (Heavy Element) Chemical and Biological processes can sort the light elements from the heavy elements Fractionation Change in 18 O value

10 Oxygen isotopes Three isotopes: 18O,17O and 16O Important isotopes: 18O and 16O Modern 18O/16O ratio: 1:500

11 Isotopic change Evaporation: lighter 16 O evaporates more easily from a water body resulting atmospheric H2O vapor is poorer in 18O than oceanic water Condensation: heavier 18 O are precipitated faster than lighter 16 O; So: coldest snow is lightest (less heavy 18 O isotopes, more lighter 16 O isotopes)

12 Evaporative Fractionation Water vapor 18 O? Precipitation will be depleted in 18 O relative to the standard (ocean water) Negative 18 O

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14 18 O/ 16 O ratio: delta 18O Stable isotope ratios are expressed as parts per thousand (per mil – ) relative to a standard Ratio expressed as deviation of 18 O from the Standard Mean Ocean Water ratio (SMOW)

15 Delta O18 and temperature Temperature affects 18O/16O ratio: – colder temperatures more negative values for the delta 18O –warmer temperatures delta 18O values that are less negative (closer to the standard ratio of ocean water)

16 Delta 18O and temperature

17 Seasonal variations Summer (warmer) and winter (colder) periods in glacial ice can be observed as long as the delta 18O ratio is locked into the ice

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19 Continental effect

20 Altitudinal effect As water molecules travel up on an ice sheet water changes from vapor to liquid 18O is precipitated first So: ice on the top of the glacier has less 18O than at the base of the mountain

21 How far back do records go? Greenland: the last 100,000 years Antarctica: record going back 400,000 years has been reconstructed

22 Temperature reconstructed from Greenland Ice core


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