Australian Scientists Travel To Antarctica For Climate Change Research
Dr Andrew Smith
IMAGE BY ANSTO
Two Australian scientists from Australia’s ANSTO nuclear research facility have travelled to Antarctica to research the impact solar activity has on climate change.
Dr Andrew Smith and Dr Ulla Heikkila aim to collect ice cores from Antarctica’s Law Dome to measure the levels of beryllium-7 and beryllium-10 within the samples. These isotopes are generated when cosmic rays coming from supernovae in space collide with oxygen atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The scientists believe the level of isotopes at different points in time is related to different solar activity - the more active the sun, the stronger the solar wind, acting to deflect cosmic rays from Earth.
The layers of ice at Law Dome allow the researchers to move through different time periods as they sample from deeper and deeper below the surface, and by examining different time periods and the levels of beryllium in the ice at those times, Smith and Heikkila can determine solar activity.
"The key to predicting future climate change is understanding the factors that impacted on past climate change. There is some speculation that over the past thousands of years, solar activity may have had a significant impact on the climate of Earth, and that’s what we are researching,” Dr Smith said in an ANSTO press release.
By correlating this data with existing knowledge about the climate of the earth, the ANSTO scientists hope to determine whether there’s a pattern between solar activity and climate change.