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CACHE Research Programme

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The Climate and Chemistry: forcings, feedbacks and phasings in the Earth System (CACHE) research programme, part of the British Antarctic Survey research strategy Global Science in an Antarctic Context (GSAC) 2005–2009

Climate and Chemistry: forcings, feedbacks and phasings in the Earth System (CACHE)

Principal Investigator: Dr Eric Wolff

The Challenge

CACHE will use data from ice cores, ocean sediments, lake sediments and contemporary measurements of atmospheric chemistry to cast new light on the climate of the last million years.

The objective is to determine the key drivers and feedbacks that have controlled climate change and the chemistry of the global atmosphere past and present, and to improve computer models used to predict climate change.

Shallow ice core drilling at Dome C


  • Extend the existing 10,000-year climate record for the Americas by sampling from the sub-Antarctic, through the Antarctic Peninsula to the South Pole
  • Understand the relationship between the Antarctic and global climate over timescales up to a million years
  • Determine the main causes and amplifiers of climate change over the last ~1My
  • Quantify the chemical exchanges between the atmosphere and Antarctic ice and snow
  • Understand how changes in the amount of ice and snow on Earth affect the chemistry of the atmosphere

Relevance to Global Science

Ice cores from Antarctica show that throughout the last eight glacial cycles, climate and the chemical composition of the atmosphere have been tightly linked. Computer models of the climate system are unable to reproduce the data. CACHE aims to improve our understanding of the interplay between Antarctic ice, climate and atmospheric chemistry, and so to improve the models and their predictions.

Delivering the Results

CACHE will drill and analyse the first complete Holocene ice core climate record from the Antarctic Peninsula. The results will be combined with those from the cores recently extracted from Dome C and Berkner Island, existing data from other sectors of Antarctica, and other climate history data worldwide. This will provide an unprecedented record of the links between carbon cycle.

Component Projects