New Horizons in Science

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Climate CSI: A geologist reports from Greenland’s melting ice sheet

Topic: Paleoclimate
Monday, November 4, 2013 -
3:00pm to 3:45pm
Century Ballroom A

Climate scientists have been watching Greenland with alarm in recent years as its massive glaciers melt, crack and break off, losing ice at a rate that has doubled in the past 10 years. Ellen Martin and her collaborator Jon Martin are spending summers capturing a geochemical record of Greenland’s change, hoping to use this natural laboratory to inform paleoclimate studies. Ellen Martin studies the global carbon cycle by analyzing isotopic signatures of continental weathering. The presence of radiogenic isotopes in water and sediment provides a record of the intense weathering that happens as glaciers wax and wane. The fieldwork in Greenland will allow her to compare isotopic evidence collected from meltwater, recent snow melt and nearby ocean sediments. The detailed contemporary data will improve scientists’ ability to reconstruct the planet’s deep climate history from chemical proxies in ocean sediment cores.


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