PhD Student

David Thornton


Evidence of carbon cycle changes from trace gas indicators in Antarctic ice

It has been known for many years that emissions of gases from anthropogenic activities are altering the composition of the earth’s atmosphere. Although occurring naturally, human activity has increased the concentrations of several relevant gases to the point of modifying the chemical properties and radiation balance of the atmosphere, which in turn influences our climate via warming. Combustion of fossil fuels, industrial and agricultural practices and deforestation all contribute to the emission of long-lived greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Increasing concentrations of the long-lived greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, halocarbons and SF6); contribute to this radiative forcing over the industrial period.

The atmospheric archive provided by ice cores is a key data source for understanding the carbon cycle. Projects that extend and interpret this archive are an important contributor to further extending our knowledge in this field. Precise measurements and ice core air samples that are accurately dated and highly resolved in time are required to record small and rapid trace gas signals.

The proposed research will help contribute to addressing the significant gap in ice core records from East Antarctica that cover the last 2000-years and will involve the use of ice samples collected in Australian and global partnerships over recent years from Antarctic sites. The last 2000-years has been recognised as an important interval of Earth history containing a significant natural period prior to the industrial era. High-resolution records of climate forcings over the past 2000-years are also of importance to the climate modelling community.


Dr Tessa Vance

Dr Mark Curran


other participants

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