Main objectives – University of Copenhagen

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Centre for Ice and Climate > About the Centre > Main objectives

Main objectives

The centre work is focussed on a number of topics:

• Finding the baseline: The climate during the last full glacial-interglacial cycle is investigated and reconstructed using multi-disciplinary data and global climate models with emphasis on the North Atlantic region. The objective is to map out past changes in temperature, accumulation, and atmospheric conditions and to increase our understanding of the mechanisms governing these changes.

• Studying a previous warm period: We aim to reconstructing the ~5°C warmer climate during the Eemian period 120,000 years ago and unveil the underlying dynamics. The new insights will supply input data to models of the evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet (and thus of sea level rise) in a warm world without anthropogenic greenhouse gas emmisions.

• Understanding abrupt changes: Ice cores tell us that the climate has changed abruptly numerous times in the past. We aim to identify and understand the complex and coupled processes that caused these shifts in order better to be able to assess the risk of future abrupt changes.

• Modelling the response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to climate change: The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second-biggest reservoir of last-based fresh water, and even relatively small changes in the size, shape, and dynamics of the ice sheet has large implications for the global sea level. By improving our modelling capabilities and using data from both radar surveys and ice core analysis, we will improve our understanding of the dynamics of the ice sheet and its response to past changes, which in turn will enable us to better predict the fate of the ice sheet in a warming climate.

• The first CO2 record from Greenland: CO2 records from Greenland ice cores are influenced by the high level of chemical impurities in the ice. Modern techniques that simultaneously measure selected chemical components, CO2 gas and CO2 gas isotopes make it possible to correct for the interaction of CO2 with the impurities, and allow us to produce a high resolution CO2 record for Greenland. The record will be the first Northern Hemisphere record that provides information about the cycling, sources, and sinks of CO2.

• Understanding the climate: Climate changes are often out of phase in the Northern and Southern hemisphere, and the ocean circulation transports both heat and carbon between the hemispheres. Better models based on ice core data will advance our understanding of the couplings in the climate system and e.g. lead to increased knowledge of the relationship between the climate of the two hemispheres.

• International platform: The centre is the focal point of the NEEM deep drilling project and future ice core drillings on the Greenland Ice Sheet as well as a number of research projects with aims that are coherent with the centre research efforts. We work actively to provide an innovative environment for education and exchange of young researchers.

A more comprehensive description of the centre goals and the methods pursued to meet these goals is available in the centre's research plans, available here as PDF files: Research Plan 2007-2012 (1st funding period) and Research Plan 2012-2017 (2nd funding period).

Research methods and results are also described on our research pages.