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Friday, November 5, 2010

Drilling for Past Climate in an Arctic Lake

Wired Science from a couple of days ago has a story on drilling in an arctic lake.  Here's my quick synopsis: the lake is at extremely high latitude, above the Arctic circle, and is extremely remote - the nearest town is about 55 miles away.  The lake was formed 3.6 million years ago by a meteorite impact - it is an old crater, now filled with water.  But the drilling in this lake has nothing to do with the meteorite, or some natural resource - the drilling is being done in order to learn more about how Earth's climate has changed in the past ~3 million years.  The lake sediments at the bottom record a near continuous record, giving scientists a fantastic window into understanding how the Earth has warmed and cooled in that time period.   The core collected from the lake sediments also contains at least 10 layers of volcanic ash, erupted over time by a nearby southerly volcano.  The core will be compared to other cores from different areas to understand what can be gleaned from it about Earth's climate.