Our mission: exploring the climate history of Antarctica. This week we feature a portrait of Saiko Sugisaki. She is a young and talented paleomagnetist working for JAMSTEC in Japan.
IODP Expedition 318: Wilkes Land Glacial History
The Wilkes Land Glacial history expedition starts in Wellington, New Zealand on 4 Jan 2010 and returns to Hobart, Tasmania on 9 March. While off the coast of Antarctica, we will be taking cores from the seafloor to investigate when and why the ice sheet started growing on Antarctica and how the ice sheet has grown and melted during the last 35 million years.
We will focus on learning about the interaction of climate, ice sheet growth, and ocean currents. The sediment cores we bring into the labs on the ship will cover periods in Earth’s history that were extremely warm – think palm trees and crocodiles at the poles – instead of polar bears and penguins!
At one of the expedition sites, we also hope to obtain a super-high resolution record (very detailed) of just the last 10,000 years – the sediment at this site was deposited so quickly that each yearly layer is about 3 cm thick. We hope it will give us an Antarctic climate history record just like what tree rings can give.
Why are we doing this? If we want to have any chance of predicting how our climate might change in the future, we must understand how the Earth’s climate system (air, ice, oceans) worked in the past. The sediments deposited on the seafloor record the climatic and oceanographic conditions at the time they were deposited – our sediment cores are one of the only and best ways we can get at this important information.
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