Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Study Cave’s 'Breathing' For Better Climate Clues

Date:
March 16, 2009
Source:
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Summary:
Researchers are studying the way caves "breathe" to providing new insights into the process by which scientists study paleoclimates.

Erik Pollock of the Stable Isotope Laboratory at the University of Arkansas, climbs into tight spaces to study carbon dioxide cycling in caves. Seasonal differences can provide clues to paleoclimate proxies.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

A University of Arkansas researcher studying the way caves “breathe” is providing new insights into the process by which scientists study paleoclimates.

Katherine Knierim, a graduate student at the University of Arkansas, together with Phil Hays of the geosciences department and the U.S. Geological Survey and Erik Pollock of the University of Arkansas Stable Isotope Laboratory, are conducting close examinations of carbon cycling in an Ozark cave. Caves “breathe” in the sense that air flows in and out as air pressure changes.

The researchers have found that carbon dioxide pressures vary with external temperatures and ground cover, indicating a possible link between the carbon found in rock formations in the caves and seasonal changes. They presented their findings at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The movement of carbon in cave systems is controlled by the concentration of carbon dioxide. When conditions are right, this carbon can be deposited as layers in stalagmites, stalactites and soda straws. These layers resemble the rings found in trees, except that they can date back millions of years, hold information about cave conditions.

“People have been using these formations as paleoclimate records,” Hays said. However, researchers make an assumption when they do so.

“The problem is that you have to assume you are getting even carbon and oxygen isotope exchange,” Knierim said. Isotopes, or atoms of the same type but with slightly different weights, are found in plants, animals, organic matter and rocks. Different types of material have unique “signatures,” or proportions of a particular atom at a particular atomic weight.

By looking at carbon isotope ratios in cave topsoils, the cave atmosphere and the stream within the cave, Knierim and her colleagues will be able to determine the different contributions of carbon sources to the formations. This will help scientists develop more accurate paleoclimate conditions from cave formations.

A greater knowledge of how carbon cycles through cave systems also will help scientists develop better methods for watershed management.

The researchers are in the geosciences department of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "Researchers Study Cave’s 'Breathing' For Better Climate Clues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309210846.htm>.
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. (2009, March 16). Researchers Study Cave’s 'Breathing' For Better Climate Clues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309210846.htm
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "Researchers Study Cave’s 'Breathing' For Better Climate Clues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309210846.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 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:
from the past week

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