Pharos-Tribune

Columns

June 21, 2013

New ice cores shed more light on climate

Late in the last century scientists published reams of data about Earth’s climate derived from ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctic glaciers. By drilling down into the ice with hollow bits (think of using a spinning pipe as a drill) workers were able to pull columns of ice up to the surface. The material brought to light in this way was very special for several reasons.

First, the ice cores show annual layers going back in time. That means scientists can count backwards through time from the surface downward, a bit like school kids can count the rings of a tree, measuring out history year by year.

The ice in the cores had originally been snow at the surface, snow that was buried by later snows and slowly became compacted to form a coarse icy material called “firn” and then glacial ice itself. The ice has tiny bubbles of air in it, air that was trapped in the snow layers in times gone by. This means that scientists can analyze the small air samples that are sealed in the ice and determine the composition of the air that was blowing around the Earth in past millennia.

Chemical analyses of the air in the glacial ice show that our planet’s atmosphere has gone through cycles of changes over thousands of years. In particular, the concentration of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane (the main ingredient in natural gas) has varied over time. The specific dates of the changes can be determined by counting up the layers in the ice core – a pretty nifty trick.

If the only thing the ice cores told us was how much Earth’s air has changed, that would be interesting in itself. But scientists are also able to analyze the ice and from it infer a couple of things.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • RAMPBELL: Keeping the sick at home Something strange happened here this week: Lots of workers who’ve never done so before got the right to call in sick. And that’s a good thing.The Big Apple, you see, is joining a handful of other trailblazing cities such as Washington, San Francisco

    July 30, 2014

  • KITCHELL: Patacsil was no ordinary Joe Somebody forgot to tell Joe Patacsil that if he wanted to wrestle at a Big Ten university with black and gold as its school colors ... well, most people who know anything about college wrestling today might have said he picked the wrong one -- Purdue

    July 30, 2014

  • MARCUS: The higher education funding mess Public higher education financing is unsustainable as currently configured. This conclusion was reached by two important groups over the past two years. The National Association of State Budget Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Office

    July 29, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The state of the reunion “Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 29, 2014

  • COATS: What to do next with Putin, Ukraine The tragic death of 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in a wheat field in eastern Ukraine marks a moment when words of disapproval and expressions of grief are not enough. This is a moment when action must follow the outrage and rhetor

    July 28, 2014

  • LYONS: The most powerful men in the world? Search the phrase “the most powerful man in the world” and what comes up are photos of grotesquely over-developed weightlifters; also Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Awfully ironic under present circumstances. It’s a cant term TV news anchors use to

    July 28, 2014

  • CEPEDA: What are students to eat now Remember last year’s hysteria over school lunches? Administrators, cafeteria workers, students and parents across the country freaked out when — gasp! — school lunches were made healthier.News reports throughout the 2012-13 school year — when lunch s

    July 27, 2014

  • HOWEY: Rising up to meet Putin’s thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 27, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Congress scolded for its failures Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous. A co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Hamilton and fell

    July 27, 2014

  • DORAN: How to handle the pool problem By Terry DoranGuest columnistAs a longtime board member of the parks board and having grown up nearby, it troubles me to read of the decision to close the city pool at Tower Park. This is obviously not a new discussion. I sat in on many meetings with

    July 27, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should grocery and convenience stores be allowed to sell cold beer?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.