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Ice scientist cracks warming mysteries
Denmark-born Joel Pedro at the Australian ice core drilling camp at Law Dome in Antarctica.

A Denmark-born scientist’s research has helped crack some of the mysteries of climate change after his PhD thesis was published last Monday.

Glaciologist Joel Pedro, a former Walpole Primary School, Denmark High School and Albany Senior High School student, examined temperature and carbon dioxide changes during the warming out of the last ice age in Antarctica.

Following two research trips to Antarctica in 2005 and 2008, Dr Pedro and two other scientists discovered that the warming process, which was previously thought to have taken 1000 years, instead took about 400 years.

“The coupled rise in temperature and natural increase in carbon dioxide that helped end the ice age took place gradually, over about 8000 years,” Dr Pedro said.

“What we have seen since the start of the industrial revolution is a similar carbon dioxide increase occurring over only a few hundred years.

“This is way faster than anything in the ice core record and it’s clearly human-caused.”

Dr Pedro said the small research group used ice core drilling to get samples from more than 1km a kilometre into the ice.

The samples were taken to labs in Hobart and, ironically Copenhagen, Denmark, to be examined.

“The results will give is more information to predict what will happen in the future,” he said.

Dr Pedro said visiting Antarctica was an adventure in itself, seeing penguins and braving summer temperatures as low as minus 30C.

“I remember stepping off the ship was amazing, just the sheer size of the place,” he said.

The research paper has been published in the journal Climate of the Past.

It was as part of a joint project between Dr Pedro from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, Tas Van Ommen from the ACECRC and Sune Rasmussen from the Niels Bohr Centre for Ice and Climate in Copenhagen.

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