WSU Vancouver Professor Publishes Article in Science Magazine About Climate Change in Greenland, Antarctica

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Researchers at Washington State University Vancouver and Princeton University have new observations about rapid climate changes in the Northern and Southern hemispheres over the past 100,000 years that could help scientists predict future climate changes.

An article titled “Timing of Millennial-Scale Climate Change in Antarctica and Greenland During the Last Glacial Period” by scientists Edward Brook and Thomas Blunier has been published in “Science” magazine. Brook is an assistant professor of geology and environmental science at WSU Vancouver, and Blunier is a visiting research fellow in the department of geosciences at Princeton University.

The article discusses the correlative relationship, or “bi-polar see saw,” between climate change in Antarctica and Greenland. Examining ice core samples and methane gas measurements, Brook and Blunier show that when Antarctica temperatures decreased, temperatures in Greenland generally increased, and when temperatures in Antarctica increased, temperatures in Greenland decreased. The research precisely compares the timing of rapid shifts in climate over the past 100,000 years in Greenland and Antarctica, showing that rapid warming in the Northern Hemisphere coincided with rapid cooling in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Understanding the manifestation of these rapid changes in other parts of the world may help unravel the underlying climate dynamics and predict the likelihood of future rapid climate change,” the article says.

Brook has studied the chemical composition of ice cores for the last eight years, traveling to Greenland and Antarctica twice. The amount of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide in air trapped in ice cores shows the history of global climate change. Brook is currently studying atmosphere methane and developing new measurements for atmospheric carbon monoxide (CO) in ice cores.