Maureen Raymo, a marine geologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory whose name is connected with key theories about how ice ages wax and wane and how sea levels change, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors awarded to scientists in the United States.
ice ages Archives - State of the Planet
That change would have affected the monsoons, today relied on to feed over half the world’s population, and could have helped tip the climate system over the threshold for deglaciation.
Bess Koffman, a postdoctoral researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, recently traveled to New Zealand to collect dust ground-up by glaciers during the last ice age. In this photo essay, she explains how she collected the dust, what analysis looks like in the lab and what she hopes to learn.
Dust blowing onto the oceans can help algae grow and pull CO2 out of the atmosphere. It influences the radiative balance of the planet by reflecting sunlight away. Scientists want to know what role this plays in the coming and going of the ice ages, and how it affects our climate.
In a new study in Nature, climate scientist Maureen Raymo and her colleagues show that variations in sunlight interact with Earth’s topography and the size of ice sheets to control Earth’s ice ages on 100,000 year cycles. One important finding: as ice sheets grow bigger, they also become more vulnerable to melting.