A paper co-authored by John Priscu, a polar ecologist, was published in the April 30 issue of the scientific journal, Nature. The paper reported climate changes in the Arctic may have influenced the climate in the Antarctic. Any abrupt changes in temperatures in the North Pole could effect a change in temperature in the South Pole.
Priscu stated that the topic on the inverse climate relationship between the two poles is very important in obtaining information that would provide a new viewpoint in global climate relationships and may help predict how Earth’s climate will react to increase levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. John Priscu is a professor from MSU’s Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences’ College of Agriculture and was part of the 28-man research team of scientists from science and engineering groups from all over United States that conducted the research.
The team dug ice core samples from the WAIS Divide. This area in the West Antarctica is characterized by thick ice, annual snow fall, and simple ice flow. When snow falls, it rarely melts in the WAIS Divide. This resulted to an annual build up of thick layers of ice which are then compressed by subsequent snow fall. The compressed ice traps dust, microbes, atmospheric gases and chemicals. The trapped dust, chemical and microbes show the particular type of climate in the past and the gases contain samples of what was the type of atmosphere at that time.
By comparing data found from ice core samples dug 11,200 feet deep with the data available from ice cores dug in Greenland in the Arctic, the team noted that climate changes oscillated between the Arctic and the Antarctic region.
From the ice samples, Greenland had an unstable climate during the last ice age – dramatic changes in temperatures – while the Antarctic region experienced the opposite effect. This phenomenon, known as Dansgaard-Oeschger (abbrev: D-O events) events, are rapid rise and fall changes in climate and had occurred 25 times during the Ice Age. Greenland was heating up while the opposite was happening in the Antarctic. It was believed that sudden changes in climate originated in Greenland and these changes were very different–very regional and triggered by ice sheet collapses.