Vostok Ice core report

Published: 2021-06-20 11:35:05
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Abstract: Global warming has been widely discussed all around the world as it is an issue that affects the living of all mankind in the world. It is argued that the ‘anthropogenic’ changes posse more influence on the climate change to the Earth, compared to the ‘naturally driven’ glacial and interglacial changes in temperature. This report is based on the Vostok Core by faculty at Columbia University as an example for us to investigate global climate change. Author of this report believes global warming is just part of the long term temperature fluctuation during the interglacial period as there is no convincing and valid evidence that shows human activities are the only reason of the raise of global mean temperature.
Introduction: This report is written to summarize the findings of the Vostok Ice-core lab, based on the data obtained in the ice-core. It mainly addresses the relationship between the composition of ice core and temperature change. Moreover, the controversy of main reason of global warming will be discussed.
Method: In this report, the data is obtained from the Vostok core drilled in East Antarctica, at an altitude of 3488m. The ice core has a total length of 2083m. In the sample, the temperature, composition of CO2, CH4, and dust in different each ice sheet layer is recorded. Through investigating the relationship between the composition of CO2, CH4, dust and the age of ice and gas, the paleoclimate including local temperature can be shown. It shows the fluctuation of climate in the past hundreds of thousands of years.
Due to limited resources and technology in the past, it is difficult to measure and record the climate data hundreds of thousands years ago. Through investigating ice sheets that were trapped in the ancient snow, climate data hundreds of thousands of years ago can be estimated.
The reason of using the ice sheet drilled at the East Antarctic as sample as the location is less disturbed by anthropogenic activities. With that being the case, it can be a proxy that shows the temperature in the past. Ice layers are formed in different part of time. The oldest layer of ice is formed at the base of the ice core and the youngest ice layer is formed at the top of the core. By seeing the composition of different ice age and gas age, the climatic data in the past can be estimated.
By generating plots and graph from the given data, we can see that the amount of CO2, dust and CH4 keeps fluctuating throughout different ice age. By comparing the three graphs, there are no similar patterns. It seems that the fluctuation is random. CO2, dust and CH4 are the main greenhouse gas and agent in the atmosphere that trap heat in the Earth. The global mean temperature is rising since the 18th century. Yet, there is no particular change of the composition of CO2, dust and CH4, which is mainly produced by human activities. To conclude, the amount of CO2, dust and CH4 cannot be an evidence to show that human activities are the main reason of the rising temperature in the Earth. The limitation of the data is that the ice core may not reflect the reality of the climate in that ice age. For example, for the data related to the gas age, it is assumed that the bubbles of gas are effectively trapped on the old layer of ice sheet.
Discussion: To a small extent, the data in the Vostok Lab can show that human activities are the main cause of global warming. Firstly, the data obtained is only estimation from the ice core. It is not an exact data that is record in the past. There are other factors that may alter the composition of the ice core. Formation of the ice core could be affected by other factors, like the weather at that time, landscape, external process, etc.
With that being the case, the ice core could not be a convincing data that show the climate change. Moreover, the fluctuating and irregular pattern cannot show the influence of the change of global temperature change, even when we consider the ice core as a valid evidence. CO2, dust and CH4 are the main source of greenhouses gases, which are produced mainly by human activities. If that is the case, the composition of CO2, dust and CH4 should be coherent to the change of temperature of the Earth. Yet, it is not shown from the data. Moreover, there are lots of different factors that keep affecting the temperature of the Earth. The energy of the sun, the albedo effect, Milakovitch Cycles, plate tectonics are the examples of the factors that affect the temperature.
Conclusion To conclude, based the given data, it is difficult to prove that anthropogentic changes are stronger than the glacial and interglacial changes in temperature, as there are not enough valid evidence from the lab. Studying climate change is not a short term issue. However, due to the limited technology level and the knowledge of the Earth, we could not obtain concise data to investigate the climate change. The ice core could be one of the proxies that help us to understand the climatic condition in the past. It is suggested to compare more other proxies, in order to draw conclusion of the main reason and the trend of climate change.

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