Palaeoclimate

PACE is a research group at GEUS formed of scientists working in the Department of Glaciology and Climate and the Department of Marine Geology. Members of the PACE group are experts in past climate and environmental change research. The group has a primary focus on Greenland and the wider Arctic, but is also engaged in projects elsewhere, particularly in the North Atlantic region.

Our common goal is two-fold:

1. To achieve a better understanding of natural climate and environmental variability at time scales spanning from decades to millennia.
2. To place recent climate change in a longer-term context.

In doing so, we can help to predict future changes with more confidence.

Changes in the Arctic have far-reaching consequences. The Greenland Ice Sheet is a large contributor to global sea level rise. Additionally, meltwater from the ice sheet has the potential to substantially alter ocean circulation; this has serious implications for the climate of Northwest Europe and further afield. Sea-ice is the other major component of the Arctic cryosphere. Shrinking sea-ice can enhance climate warming through several feedback mechanisms. Sea-ice is also extremely important for marine biology; reductions in sea-ice will impact primary productivity and ecosystem functioning, and may have serious consequences for fisheries and indigenous people.

Instrumental and satellite records of Arctic change cover a short time period. Longer term records are invaluable for assessing the magnitude of current changes and allow us to better understand the complex interactions between the climate, oceans, sea-ice, and the Greenland Ice Sheet. Researchers within the PACE group analyse sediment archives from marine and lake environments to reconstruct long records of past environmental changes. Using sedimentological, biogeochemical, and microfossil proxies it is possible to reconstruct past changes in temperature, salinity, ocean current strength, glacier activity, meltwater and freshwater dynamics, sea-ice variability, nutrient status, and primary productivity.

 

Scientific research topics

  • Timing of Holocene climate events in the Arctic and North Atlantic region (local vs. regional patterns, drivers, mechanisms)
  • Glacier-Fjord-Ocean interaction in Greenland
  • Arctic sea-ice and primary productivity
  • Modern analogues in past climate (Holocene Thermal Maximum, Medieval Climate Anomaly)– for better predictions of climate, sea ice and Ice sheet change
  • Climate proxy development and calibration