Climate Change

What a mile-deep soil sample can teach us about climate change

The soil sample was forgotten for decades, but threw up some surprises once it was examined. Image: Unsplash/Andre Boysen

Andrew Christ

Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Geology, University of Vermont

Paul Bierman

Fellow of the Gund Institute for Environment, Professor of Geology and Natural Resources, University of Vermont

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Engineers pull up a section of the 4,560-foot-long ice core at Camp Century in the 1960s.
Engineers pull up a section of the 4,560-foot-long ice core at Camp Century in the 1960s. Image: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Workers build the snow tunnels at the Camp Century research base in 1960.
Workers build the snow tunnels at the Camp Century research base in 1960. Image: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Geomorphologist Paul Bierman (right) and geochemist Joerg Schaefer of Columbia University examine the jars holding Camp Century sediment for the first time. Image: Paul Bierman
Glacial geomorphologist Andrew Christ (right), with geology student Landon Williamson, holds up the first fossil twig spotted as they washed a sediment sample from Camp Century.
Image: Paul Bierman
Maps of Greenland show the speed of the ice sheet as it flows (left) and the landscape hidden beneath it (right).
Maps of Greenland show the speed of the ice sheet as it flows (left) and the landscape hidden beneath it (right). Image: BedMachine v3; Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is well beyond past levels determined from ice cores. On March 14, 2021, the CO2 level was about 417 ppm.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is well beyond past levels determined from ice cores. On March 14, 2021, the CO2 level was about 417 ppm. Image: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

glacier
Image: Paul Bierman
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Climate ChangeSDG 13: Climate ActionClimate Indicators

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