Siwan Going Green to Unearth the Hot Secrets of Earth's T Emperature; Expert Joining Research into Climate Change

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 21, 2009 | Go to article overview

Siwan Going Green to Unearth the Hot Secrets of Earth's T Emperature; Expert Joining Research into Climate Change


Byline: Robin Turner

A WELSH climate expert is heading to the snowy wastes of northern Greenland to examine how global warming will change the world over the next century.

Dr Siwan Davies, 32, of Swansea University, is taking part in a project to excavate ice dating back 130,000 years trapped 8,000ft under the Greenland ice sheet.

It was created during the Eemian period, when temperatures were 3-5C warmer than they are today, when Stone Age hunter gatherers had spread from Africa to the Middle East and animals such as the hippopotamus were roaming in what is now the Thames estuary.

With temperatures forecast to rise by up to 7C in the next 100 years, the ancient ice is thought to hold valuable clues as to how the Greenland ice sheet will react. If it melts, sea levels around the globe could shoot up by 15m.

Last week, a returning Arctic survey team led by explorer Pen Hadow reported how they "hardly ever" came across layers of ice more than a year old during 73 days of tests, while the average thickness of the ice tested was just 1.77m.

Dr Davies, from the university's geography department, an expert on rapid climatic changes in the past, will join scientists from 14 other countries to retrieve the ancient ice by drilling an 8,000ft core in northwest Greenland as part of the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling (Neem) project.

She will leave behind her 15-month-old son Osian for the first time since he was born.

"This is a landmark project that will capture ice from the last warm episode on Earth - the Eemian period," she said.

"This period is thought to have been about 3-5C warmer than at present and is therefore expected to give clues to the changes that we can expect as a result of global warming over the next 100 years or so.

"The key questions are how did the Greenland ice sheet respond to these warmer temperatures and what are the implications for future sea-level rise?" Neem aims to be the first project to retrieve a complete record of ice from the Eemian period.

The project is led by the Ice and Climate group at the University of Copenhagen and participants include researchers from the British Antarctic Survey, the US, France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Canada, China, Sweden, South Korea, Japan, Belgium and Iceland. …

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