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Secrets found in Siberian crater lake

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 July 2012

Startling new evidence on climate change has been uncovered from a Siberian crater lake.

Startling new evidence on climate change has been uncovered from a Siberian crater lake. 

An international team found a close connection in warming and cooling between the Arctic and Antarctic, says the journal Science. 

The findings, just released, come from a probe of sediments taken in 2009 at unique Lake El'gygytgyn, in Chukotka, which was formed when a huge meteorite hit the Earth 3.6 million years ago. 

The lake, with a rim diameter of 18km,  is seen as containing unique secrets of the planet's past climactic secrets because it was never covered by glaciers.

As a result, it contains an uninterrupted build-up of sediment which scientists can use to unlock information on warming and cooling. 

A key finding is exceptional climate warming in the Arctic, previously unknown to experts. 

These extreme warm periods matched warming in the Antarctic which were known about from previous studies, so indicating a correlation between the two polar regions in climate change.

The lead researchers uncovering this 'climate coupling' were Martin Melles of the University of Cologne, Germany; Julie Brigham-Grette of the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and Pavel Minyuk of Russia's North-East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute in Magadan.

The study - which suggests the Siberian lake's past could hold the key to future global climate changes - were 'a successful partnership in very challenging conditions. These results make a significant contribution to our understanding of how Earth's climate system works, and improve our understanding of what future climate might be like'.

Seeking to explain the 'coupling', they say warming in Antactica may have reduced the cold water masses flowing into the North Pacific, resulting in warmer surface waters, higher temperatures and increased precipitation on land.

Or melting of the Antarctic ice sheet may have led to a rise in sea levels, with warmer water reaching the Arctic through the Bering Strait. 

'The uniqueness of the climate archive becomes clear when you keep in mind that with these core samples we advanced about 30 times further into Earth's history, as is the case with the longest ice cores off the Greenland ice cap', said Melles.

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