Concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide on Earth grow in recent 200 years
In order to realize how the Earth’s climate has been changing, scientists need to study the most ancient Arctic ice layers, Alexander Makarov, director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, notes
Russian scientists from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI, St. Petersburg) say the concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide have been growing much quicker over recent 200 years, the institute’s Director Alexander Makarov said, adding the mentioned time period is the Industrial Age.
“Presently, we know for sure that the modern concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane have been growing much quicker than they did in the past. Similar rates of CO2 and CH4 in the Earth’s atmosphere have been registered earlier, but this quick growth has never been reported,” he said.
In order to realize how the Earth’s climate has been changing and to which extent the current processes have been affected by man-made factors, scientists need to study the most ancient Arctic ice layers, he added.
AARI’s scientists have presented results of studies, where they surveyed snow-firn layers (firn is the intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice) of an under-ice lake, Vostok, in Antarctica. The experts lifted ice from the depth of up to 70 meters – from four wells. Thus, they could reconstruct in detail how the climate in the Antarctica has been changing in recent 2,200 years.
According to the scientists, until the early 19th century, in the area of Lake Vostok, a slight cooling was observed, and the snow accumulation rate on the surface decreased. With the beginning of the industrial revolution, the temperature and the snow accumulation rate have increased.
Over a hundred years, the change was by 1.6 degrees – according to observations at the Vostok meteorological station. At the same time, the average snow accumulation rate in the past half century turned out to be the highest in 2,200 years.
However, the experts said, in comparing the research results with the data from ancient ice cores, it would not be correct to say the modern air temperature is beyond the natural variability.
AARI scientists have been researching ice cores for more than 50 years. Ice samples of up to 440,000 years old have been well studied.
In 2022, the scientists have begun studying ice aged 600,000 years. However, more accurate conclusions about the climate changes on the planet require studies of deeper ice layers – aged 1-2 million years or more. The scientists plan to conduct such surveys in the coming years