This summer, geologists and oceanographers from Rutgers will lead a team of scientists to the southeastern Pacific Ocean aboard the JOIDES Resolution to investigate the history of oceanographic and hydrologic change along the northern margin of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and on the South American continent.
Why the southeast Pacific?
The southeast Pacific is home to the largest temperate ice masses in the Southern Hemisphere, the Northern and Southern Patagonia Icefields (NPI, SPI), which contribute a disproportionate amount to modern sea level rise relative to other mountain glaciers. Surface ocean conditions in the southeast Pacific exert primary control on southern South American climate and impact many other parts of the globe via oceanic and atmospheric teleconnections. However, few records with adequate temporal resolution to evaluate rapid (100 to 1000 yr) variations in sea surface and intermediate water properties extend beyond the Holocene. By collecting sediment cores from the region, we will extend climate records from the region to the Eemian, the warmest period of the last 200 ky and comparable to climate change estimates for the end of this century. Records from the Eemian period are important for understanding how the Patagonia icefields and regional oceanography will respond to a warmer than present climate.