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DRAM Project

Drivers and Amplifiers of Late Quaternary Climate Change (DRAM) is a component project of 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


Drivers and Amplifiers of Late Quaternary Climate Change (DRAM)

Project leader: Dr Regine Röthlisberger

The challenge

Ice core records provide highly detailed records of how different components of the climate system have behaved in the past. DRAM will make use of these and other data to pin down the main forcings and feedbacks that controlled climate over the last million years.

Objectives

  • Deliver a complete climate record (covering the last 60 000 years) from the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica, using the Berkner Island ice core
  • Reconstruct solar forcing over last 10 000 years and assess its importance in millennial climate variability
  • Determine the phasing of changes between coastal and central Antarctica, and between the south and north Atlantic
  • Compare the ice core data with palaeoclimate model results
  • Elucidate the controls of past changes in CO2

What we will do

In the framework of this project, the analysis of the ice cores from Berkner Island and of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) will be completed. On the Berkner Island core, stable water isotopes, major ion chemistry, dust, electrical conductivity (ECM) and dielectric profiling (DEP), 10Be, greenhouse gases, air isotopes, physical properties and visual stratigraphy will be measured, in collaboration with NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL), Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) and the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement (LGGE), Grenoble. Based on these new datasets, the phasing between different regions during the transition from the last glacial period into the Holocene will be investigated and used to test hypotheses about the mechanisms involved. In collaboration with the University of Bristol (Prof. P. Valdes), the datasets will be used to validate palaeoclimate model output. The 10Be record from the Berkner Island core will allow a detailed reconstruction of the solar forcing over the past 10 000 years and offer the opportunity to estimate the impact of solar variation on climate variability of the Holocene. The connection between the dust, sea ice, temperature and CO2 records that are derived from ice cores will be used as input for carbon cycle modelling, contributing to a more detailed understanding of the feedback mechanisms governing past changes in CO2.