Projects Detail

Marine Isotope Stage 11

The climate of the last 2.6 million years was characterised by alternating warm (interglacial) and cold (glacial) periods. Warm periods, such as today’s Holocene interglacial, account for approximately 15% of the Quaternary period, and in the wake of current climate change, can provide useful information about how the climate may evolve in the future. The main mechanism that controls these alternating glacial-interglacial periods is the long-term change in the orbital configuration of the Earth relative to the sun, and it was a period about 425,000 years ago called Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11, that best resembles the orbital conditions of today. Unfortunately, several glacial-interglacial cycles have taken place since then, and a large part of the evidence archived in the geological record has been removed. Where records do exist, there are fundamental gaps in our knowledge related to: the timing of events; the duration of the warm period; the stability of the climate; whether or not this period was warmer and wetter than today, and; how the vegetation responded. This project seeks to address these issues using stalagmites deposited in caves in the northern Alps that have been protected from physical and chemical erosion. Preliminary work has shown that many stalagmites exist which are suitable for a study into MIS 11 climate variability.

FWF Project FT007100
P.i.: Gina Moseley
Co-applicant: Christoph Spötl
Duration: 2015-2018

R. Lawrence Edwards (University of Minnesota)
Hai Cheng (Xi'an Jiaotong University)
Marc Luetscher (our group)
Yuri Dublyansky (our group)
Philip Hopley (University of London)
Tobias Kluge (University of Heidelberg)
Dan Lunt and Emma Stone (University of Bristol, Bristol Research Initiative for the Dynamic Global Environment)
Eric Wolff (Cambridge Centre for Climate Science)