Stalagmites provide view of abrupt climate events (Image 3)
Georgia Institute of Technology Ph.D. candidate Stacy Carolin climbs through a decorated cave chamber called Fairy City deep within Clearwater Connection cave in Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo. Carolin was part of a Georgia Tech team of researchers that created a new set of long-term climate records based on their findings from cave stalagmites collected in Borneo.
More About This Image
New climate records by researchers at Georgia Tech show that the western tropical Pacific responded very differently than other regions of the world to abrupt climate change events. Their findings suggest that climate feedback within the tropical regions may amplify and prolong abrupt climate change events that were first discovered in the North Atlantic. The 100,000-year climate record adds to data on past climate events, and may help scientists assess models designed to predict how the Earths climate will respond in the future.
For the study, the researchers performed oxygen isotope analysis on more than 1,700 calcium carbonate samples taken from four stalagmites found in three different northern Borneo caves. The ratio of oxygen isotopes contained in the calcium carbonate samples is set by the ratio of oxygen isotopes in rainfall at the site because the rainwater seeps in the ground, dissolving the limestone rock and dripping into caves to form stalagmites. Stalagmites form at a rate of roughly 1 centimeter every thousand years.
"To my knowledge, this is the first record that so clearly shows sensitivity to one set of major abrupt climate change events and not another," said Kim Cobb, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. "These two types of abrupt change events appear to have different degrees of tropical Pacific involvement, and because the tropical Pacific speaks with such a loud voice when it does speak, we think this is extremely important for understanding the mechanisms underlying these events."
The research was supported by a National Science Foundation Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award (ATM 06-45291).
To learn more about this research, see the Georgia Tech news story Borneo Stalagmites Provide New View of Abrupt Climate Events Over 100,000 Years. [Image 3 of 9 related images. See Image 4.] (Date of Image: Fall 2012)
|Credit: Syria Lejau, Gunung Mulu National Park
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.
Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation.
Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.
Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (1.6 MB)
|Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.