Glacier cores might reveal centuries old weather conditions in eastern Alps

Paolo Gabrielli We know that with passing time the planet has been witnessing a gradual change in weather conditions, which some debate, are getting warmer. Getting an insight into what conditions each region experienced centuries ago might help in deciphering the present day changes in the climate and the causes of the same. A team of scientists from the Ohio State University along with some European colleagues, have began an analysis of ice cores drilled to bedrock from a glacier in the eastern European Alps.

This research might disclose information about past environmental and climatic changes in this region for the several centuries gone by. The team believes that it may even reveal data about as much as the last 1000 years. They are also hoping to unearth bits and pieces about early human activity in the region like atmospheric byproducts of smelting metals.

“This glacier is already changing from the top down in a very irreversible way. It is changing from a ‘cold’ glacier where the ice is stable to a ‘temperate’ glacier where the ice can degrade. The entire glacier may transition to a temperate state within the next decade or so,” remarked expedition leader Paolo Gabrielli, a research scientist at Ohio State’s Byrd Polar Research Center.

Scientists working on this project have retrieved four cores from a glacier which can be found on Mount Ortles. This is a 3,905-meter or 12,812-foot high peak in the northeastern region of Italy. Three of these were 75 meters long, while one was 60 meters. This analysis might also tell more about the climate in the nearby region during the Medieval Warm Period as well as the Little Ice Age.

Other members involved in this research included scientists from the University of Venice, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the University of Innsbruck, the University of Padova, the University of Pavia and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano.

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