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Synchronizing Palaeoclimate data for better understanding of the Solar effect on European Climate

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SYNC (Synchronizing Palaeoclimate data for better understanding of the Solar effect on European Climate)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2018-08-31

A grand solar minimum anticipated from 2020 to 2070 raises the possibility of interruption of present-day Global Warming for a few decades. However, the magnitude of resultant regional effects, such as flooding and cooling, may be significantly underestimated in current climate models, since a similar situation has never been recorded by instrumental data. Between AD 1400 and 1850, Europe experienced a period of cooling known as the Little Ice Age, which was associated with episodes of persistently very low solar activity. In England, the freezing weather, together with changes in rainfall patterns, had a strong impact on agriculture and society, with famine and disease killing millions. Nowadays, vulnerability to natural climate variability and the collateral impact on the economies are commensurately heightened because of the global population expansion and complexity of its societal infrastructure.

This project aims to clarify the important climatic role, and potential regional effects, of future variations in solar activity. The main objective is to generate robust regional palaeoclimatic information for past periods of grand solar minima, to substitute for the lack of instrumental data, as a basis for reducing the uncertainty of future predictions. Both solar activity and climate variability during the last 5,000 years are reconstructed from the lacustrine record of Diss Mere in the UK. The reconstructions are thus linked to other palaeoclimate records in Europe using regional time markers deposited in their sediments.
During the funded period, 01 September 2016- 31 December 2016, the fellow has carried out several research activities:

-Coring campaign in Diss Mere, Norfolk (UK). A total of four sediment cores (15 m long) were collected from the lake. For coring a UWITEC deep lake coring system was provided by German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ-Potsdam) in Germany. The cores are stored at Royal Holloway, University of London, the host institution.

- Lab work. All the sediment cores were split in two half and described. High-resolution digital photos of the cores were taken. The four sediment profiles were compared and correlated using macroscopic marker layer identified on all the cores in order to perform a continuous composite profile of the complete sediment sequence of the lake (15 m of length).
Sampling for thin sections (10 cm sections with 2 cm overlapping), tephra (every 10 cm) and radiocarbon dating (where macro remains were found) have been also carried out.

- Public engagement at Diss. The fellow was interviewed by a local newspaper at the town of Diss and was invited to participate in a radio show BBC radio Norfolk.
The result will be the most accurate evaluation of the solar-climate phasing (the time between the shift in the solar activity and the response of the climate system) to date, and the study of the regional atmospheric circulation during episodes of persistent solar minimum. The data generated will ultimately be used to validate climate models developed at the Met Office in order to improve predictions.
Coring platform during the coring campaign at Diss Mere in September 2016