UB research finds climate change clues beneath the ice

Oct 12, 2020

The University at Buffalo  has become a player in the debate about climate change as its Geology Department probes ice cores, the long tubular piece of ice drilled out from glaciers and vast spreads of ice accumulated over centuries.

Jason Briner of UB's Geology Department says ice cores provide important information on climate history.
Credit Buffalo.edu

When those ice cores are investigated by scientists, they can tell everything from what years there were giant volcanoes to what years there was more snow than usual.

"Ice cores, all the layers and the bubbles that are preserved in ice cores basically have given our scientists, climate scientists, the best information possible about the climate history of the earth," said UB geologist Jason Briner.

Those samples, Briner says, provide details on "the past temperature, the past rainfall and importantly, probably most importantly, the past levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere."

Briner says UB has a long history in climate science and in recent years has added a number of people to the Geology Department to expand this knowledge.

"The work that we're doing in my lab relates to quantifying how rare it is that the ice sheets are losing so much mass right now," Briner said.

"But, what geologists like myself do is re-construct a longer term history of that ice loss."