Antarctica major driver in past ocean changes

A new study published recently highlights the importance of Antarctic ice sheet advance in causing changes in the Pacific ocean during the decent into the ice ages, at the Plio-Pleistocene Transition.

One of the dominant changes occurring during this transition was the shift to large ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, the ocean was also undergoing significant changes. Using global climate models set up to simulate past environments, researchers in the Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science and Earth Surface Science Institute showed that there is a link between ice presence in the Pacific sector of Antarctic and the formation of modern North Pacific Deep Water.

Dr. Daniel Hill, the lead author of the study says that they have demonstrated for the first time that ice advance after a warm period in the Pliocene is the main reason that Pacific Ocean deep water circulation increased during this time. 

This study also highlights the success and potential for our NERC Research Experience Placements within the School of Earth and Environment.  Kevin Bolton, a co-author on the study, analyzed the multi-model component of the study as part of his NERC Research Experience Placement within the School.  Kevin has now gone on to study for a PhD at Environment and Sustainability Institute, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall.