WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The usual picture of Antarctica is huge, featureless sheets of ice and blowing blizzards. However hovering rocky mountains with deep valleys minimize like a knife into the continent of Antarctica, evoking the lavish landscapes of the American Southwest’s Monument Valley. Right here, historical rocks attain for the chilly blue sky, and right here is the place Marissa Tremblay, assistant professor of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences in Purdue College’s College of Science, led her staff of science specialists – all of whom occur to be girls.
Their purpose in touring to what’s primarily the ends of the Earth was to look far into the previous of Antarctica’s local weather historical past. Researchers have lengthy examined ice cores to know the local weather historical past of Antarctica, however that analysis can go solely way back to the oldest ice they’ll entry.
To dig deeper into the previous – to be taught extra about a few of Earth’s heat durations, when Antarctica misplaced a lot of its ice – scientists must look to the rocks.
Tremblay is a noble fuel geochemist who has pioneered a new way of looking at rocks and analyzing what temperatures they’ve skilled utilizing tiny quantities of noble fuel contained in the rock. She has already used this system to review local weather historical past within the European Alps and different locations, and he or she hopes that Antarctic rocks will inform a good older story, taking a deeper dive into historical historical past.
“Some of the thrilling issues about this journey – aside from the journey itself – is the potential for revealing how heat the Antarctic continent was earlier than our oldest ice core information,” Tremblay stated. “Understanding what Antarctica, and the Earth, seemed like previously may also help us peer into and predict potential futures.”
Tremblay and her staff trekked into Antarctica’s distant McMurdo Dry Valleys to pattern rocks and file the climate, temperature and atmospheric circumstances at a lot of websites. The rocks right here, at one of many driest and most distant locations on Earth, are devoid of ice. They’ve been uncovered to the environment, and nearly nothing else, for thousands and thousands of years.
The staff included Tremblay’s doctoral scholar Emily Apel, who’s specializing in this analysis as a part of her dissertation; geologist Jennifer Lamp of Columbia College’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who oversaw the climate and temperature devices; and geochemist Marie Bergelin of the Berkeley Geochronology Heart, who sampled rocks and helped set up the devices.
The rock samples they collected are being despatched in chilly storage on a ship to Tremblay’s lab at Purdue. As soon as they arrive, she is going to use her distinctive experience to investigate the samples and conduct extra detailed analysis alongside Darryl Granger, Purdue geologist and professor of earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences.
“Three to three.3 million years in the past, carbon dioxide concentrations within the environment have been just like at present, and sea ranges have been 50 toes or extra increased – in regards to the peak of a five-story constructing!” Tremblay stated. “This required your complete Greenland ice sheet to have melted, in addition to a good portion of the Antarctic ice sheets. In the present day, ice sheets cowl most of Antarctica, however they’re weak to local weather change. However simply how weak are they, and the way a lot will they contribute to sea stage rise as our planet continues to heat? These are the questions we’re hoping to reply with this new analysis.”
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Author/Media contact: Brittany Steff, email@example.com
Supply: Marissa Tremblay, firstname.lastname@example.org