The findings, reported this week by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Open University and University of Bristol in the journal Nature could help us understand more about rapid Antarctic climate changes.
Previous analysis of ice cores has shown that the climate consists of ice ages and warmer interglacial periods roughly every 100,000 years. This new investigation shows temperature 'spikes' within some of the interglacial periods over the last 340,000 years. This suggests Antarctic temperature shows a high level of sensitivity to greenhouse gases at levels similar to those found today.
"We didn't expect to see such warm temperatures, and we don't yet know in detail what caused them. But they indicate that Antarctica's climate may have undergone rapid shifts during past periods of high CO2," Lead author Louise Sime of British Antarctic Survey said.
"If we can pin down how much warmer temperatures were in Antarctica and Greenland at this time, then we can test predictions of how melting of the large ice sheets may contribute to sea level rise," Ice core scientist Eric Wolff of British Antarctic Survey said.
- Greenland Ice Cores Show It's Less Sensitive To Warming Than Believed- But There Is Still A Caution
- Modeling Our Climate Past: Oldest Ice Core Could Be 1.5 Million Years
- Antarctic Ice Cores May Contain Glacial Stage Ice
- Where Emperor Penguins Survived The Last Ice Age Interglacial
- Ice Age Antarctic Ocean Gives Clue To 'missing' Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide