The ability to anticipate the projected consequences of anthropogenic greenhouse warming in the coming centuries is critical if policy makers are to implement realistic and achievable mitigation measures. The levels of predictive precision currently available through global circulation models (GCM’s) is, however, insufficient for this task due to shortcomings in their ability to realistically simulate the complexities of global climate. A possible solution is to use real-world palaeodata to quantitatively model parameters, and against which to test the predicted outcomes. The potential value of much of this data is, however, limited due to its predominantly qualitative nature and a combination of chronological problems associated with conventional dating methods. In this project proposal (QUARCTIC: QUantifying ARCTIC responses to past climate change), we propose to produce highly accurate and precise quantitative palaeoenvironmental data sets from lake sequences throughout the Arctic region by the use of chironomid analysis and distal volcanic ash (‘microtephra’) chronology. Both techniques are relatively modern within palaeoenvironmental research, with their combination in QUARCTIC being entirely novel. It is anticipated that the project results will lead to the development of a data set of high precision palaeotemperature curves correlated by a framework of precise ash isochrons. The quantified precision of such results will be what is required if GCM’s are to provide data of use in policy formulation, especially in the Arctic region where palaeodata is lacking and GCM prediction poor.
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