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Abrupt Climate Change

"Searching for Abrupt Climate Change precursors using ultra high resolution ice core analysis." Project by Climate Change Institute, University of Maine supported by the National Science Foundation grant ARC-1203640.

Learn more about the project

ACC project description.

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In this NSF funded project we address one of the grand challenges in paleoclimate science – Abrupt Climate Change (ACC) and one of the grand challenges to future sustainability – predicting the path of future climate change. Ice core records provided the foundation for the realization that climate can change abruptly to a new state in just a few years. Therefore, in this proposal we suggest that by using even more in-depth investigation into ice cores, made available by transformative laser based ice core analysis, we will be able to probe into resolution levels far beyond those currently utilized and as a consequence we can search for precursors for abrupt change not previously recognizable. Our proposal addresses a critical Arctic, Antarctic and globally significant process (ACC) and our primary hypothesis (a search for ACC precursors) focuses directly on new understanding and the development of predictive tools. In addition, our proposal will significantly enhance interpretation of past climate in the Arctic, Antarctic and adjacent regions providing new ultra high resolution ice core records.

Impact on other ice core projects

Our research will contribute to several paleoclimate research projects


A 2 Million+ Year Ice Climate Archive


Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2


Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution

WAIS Divide

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Ice Core.


Climate of the Antarctic and Southern America


International Trans Antarctic Scientific Expedition

Project publications and presentations

P. A. Mayewski, S. B. Sneed, S. D. Birkel, A. , and K. A. Maasch. Holocene warming marked by abrupt onset of longer summers and reduced storm frequency around Greenland. Journal of Quaternary Science, in press, 2014.

S. B. Sneed, P. A. Mayewski, W. Sayre, M. Handley, A. V. Kurbatov, K. C. Taylor, P. Bohleber, and D. Wagenbach. Validation of micrometer resolution chemical analysis of ice cores by LA-ICP-MS. Journal of Glaciology, in review, 2014.

Project participants

Michael Handley
Douglas V. Introne
Andrei V. Kurbatov
Paul A. Mayewski
Sharon B. Sneed