Collaborative Research: Asian Ice Core Array (AICA)--Reconstruction of Past Physical and Chemical Climate over Asia
Funding is provided to help the researchers build on success using ice cores for understanding past physical and chemical climate change from Antarctica, Arctic, North Pacific and Asia by analyzing and interpreting a new array of Asian ice cores. The researchers plan to use five existing ice cores and collect one new ice core to enhance the reconstruction of environmental conditions over Asia.
The primary research questions for the Asian Ice Core Array (AICA) research include:
(1) Asian climate variability - How do major Asian circulation features (i.e., Asian monsoon, Westerlies, polar air masses, Siberian and Tibetan Highs) vary on annual to longer scales? What factors (i.e., solar variability, volcanic activity, greenhouse gases) control changes in the major circulation features impacting Asia? What is the association between Asian climate and global circulation features? Can Asian climate be simulated and predicted from the state of past atmospheric circulation patterns (analog modeling)? How does the interaction between tropical and extra-tropical circulation impact climate over Asia? What are the regional climatic changes to be expected in near future based on trends? Are Asian climate change events related to climate change in other regions?
(2) Environmental change over Asia - How have natural versus anthropogenic sources for chemical species notably sulfate, nitrate, and select heavy metals and trace and major elements varied in the atmosphere over central Asia? Are spatial and temporal variations in contaminants related to changes in contaminant source areas or production? Have changes in atmospheric circulation impacted distribution of chemical species in the atmosphere over central Asia?
Scientifically, ice cores from Asian glaciers could provide a source of high-resolution records of seasonal to millennial climate dynamics and atmospheric chemistry. This is important because the Eurasian continent is the largest landmass in the World and exerts substantial influence on atmospheric and terrestrial systems and the 2.5 billion people living in the region. Changes in environment over this region could have dramatic impacts on humans and ecosystems. Unpredictable changes in water resources and desertification over this heavily populated region may have significant global consequences. The results from AICA could be of interest to climatologists, paleoclimatologists, atmospheric chemists, geochemists, climate modelers, solar-terrestrial physicists, and environmental statisticians.
Educationally, the research project will support two PhD students as well as several undergraduate students for three years. This will help provide a rich research experience for the graduate and undergraduate students. Also, this project has strong ties to colleagues in China and Europe and offers intellectual and financial leveraging to aid in the success of the project.