Sulphur isotope-trapped Antarctic snow links ancient volcanic eruptions and climate change

analysis of antarctic snow 9

The ancient volcanic eruptions are linked to climate changes. But, to establish it, detailed study of the remnants of volcanic smoke locked up in Antarctic ice is needed. Sulphur isotopes trapped in the ice could reveal if dust and ash eruptions that occurred up to a million years ago, were large enough to reach the upper atmosphere, blocking sunlight in the process.

To provide a record of historical eruptions, the ice cores are drilled. This is done by Melanie Baroni, at the Universite Joseph Fourier in St Martin d’Heres, France and his team. After making the study, Baroni explained that particles erupted from major volcanoes spread across the globe. These particles in turn, get deposited as thin layers on the Antarctic snow.

It is in the Antarctic region; these layers are well-preserved and are not contaminated by human-made sulphur emissions, thus making it the ideal place to make the study. Baroni says,

It is helping us to work out the climatic impact that these eruptions have. From the ice core we have identified many stratospheric eruptions, including one in 1259 and one in 1450.

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