Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossilized Midges Provide Clues To Future Climate Change

Date:
July 11, 2007
Source:
University of Liverpool
Summary:
Fossilized midges have helped scientists at the University of Liverpool identify two episodes of abrupt climate change that suggest the UK climate is not as stable as previously thought.

Fossilized midge head.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Liverpool

Fossilized midges have helped scientists at the University of Liverpool identify two episodes of abrupt climate change that suggest the UK climate is not as stable as previously thought.

Related Articles


The episodes were discovered at a study in Hawes Water in Northern Lancashire, where the team used a unique combination of isotope studies and analysis of fossilized midge heads. Together they indicated where the climate shifts occurred and the temperature of the atmosphere at the time.

The first shift detected occurred around 9,000 years ago and the second around 8,000 years ago. Evidence suggests that these shifts were due to changes in the Gulf Stream, which normally keeps the UK climate warm and wet.

During each shift the North West climate cooled with an average summer temperature fall of 1.6 degrees -- approximately three times the amount of temperature change currently attributed to global warming.

Scientists found that the atmosphere cooled rapidly and cold periods lasted up to 50 years for one event and 150 years for the other. The detection of these events will allow experts to understand more clearly what can happen when the climate system is disturbed.

Professor Jim Marshall, from the University's Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, explains: "At Hawes Water mud has been deposited continuously without any gaps, which allows us to measure an accurate timeline of events. We have monitored the modern environment of the lake for the past eight years and this has shown us how to read the past climate record from the ancient mud in the lake.

"Isotope analysis helped us identify the episodes of climate change. We then used fossilized heads of non-biting midges, which are preserved in every spoonful of mud. They tell us the temperature at the time the mud was deposited. We compare the population of midge heads in each sediment sample with the population of midges in Scandinavian lakes, which span a wide range of modern day temperatures."

The team found the two abrupt climate changes correlated directly with two episodes of sharp climate deterioration in areas such as Greenland, suggesting that a change in the Gulf Stream had occurred.

Professor Marshall added: "People are worried that the melting of the polar ice caps could result in a slow-down of what we call the 'Atlantic Conveyer'. This is where cold water that sinks in the far north is replaced by warmer water from the tropics in its circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean. A number of studies suggest that the conveyer may be unstable and may be able to slow down or switch off completely, making our climate suddenly colder. Our study provides evidence that the two climate shifts we detected were directly linked to a slow-down in the conveyer."

Scientists believe that this new data will provided a unique test for the global climate computer models that are being used to simulate future climate change.

The research - in collaboration with University of Swansea; the Open University; University of Exeter; Edge Hill University and University College London - is published in Geology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liverpool. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Liverpool. "Fossilized Midges Provide Clues To Future Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070709111430.htm>.
University of Liverpool. (2007, July 11). Fossilized Midges Provide Clues To Future Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070709111430.htm
University of Liverpool. "Fossilized Midges Provide Clues To Future Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070709111430.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

Raw: New Eruptions at Colima Volcano in Mexico

AP (Mar. 28, 2015) The Colima Volcano in western Mexico sent large columns of ash up into the air on Saturday. (March 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A new study of nearly two decades of satellite data shows Antarctic ice shelves are losing more mass faster every year. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Homes Near Landslide in Washington

Raw: Homes Near Landslide in Washington

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) Aerial footage from KOMO shows several homes near a landslide in Washington. KOMO reports that at least one of the homes has been damaged. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins