Centre for Ice and Climate – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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Centre for Ice and Climate

Ice core analysis and interpretation of ice-core derived data in a broad, climatic context is the topic of a new centre of excellence, Centre for Ice and Climate, starting April 2007. The centre is finansed by Danmarks Grundforskningsfond (the Danish National Research Foundation)


The buildup of greenhouse gases is dramatically changing Earth’s climate. It is intensively debated whether projected increases in global temperatures will melt the Greenland ice sheet and increase sea level by tens of meters. There is an urgent need to better understand past climate and improve future climate projections.

Our vision is to contribute to an improved understanding of the present and past warm interglacial periods by studying ice cores, and developing models to explain observations and predict the ice sheet response to climate change. Ice cores provide a comprehensive history of climate with high resolution and they document the full dynamics of the coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice system.

The proposed center will lead an international effort in cutting-edge climate research using deep Greenland ice cores and make a significant contribution to Danish International Polar Year activities on the evolution of the Greenland ice sheet.

Ideas and Goals of the centre

The centre work will focus of these main topics:

  • Finding the baseline: We will reconstruct Northern hemisphere climate during the last 11,000 years by using multi-disciplinary data and global-climate models. These studies will lead to a detailed reconstruction of the small 1-2 °C warming and its causes.
  • Studying a previous warm period: This work will involve reconstruction of the 5°C warmer climate during the Eemian period 120,000 years ago and its causes. It will supply input data to models of the evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet and sea level increases in a warm world, without anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
  • The first CO2 record from Greenland: CO2 records from Greenland ice cores are corrupted by the high level of chemical impurities in the ice. Modern techniques that simultaneously measure chemical components, CO2 gas and CO2 gas isotopes will provide a high resolution record for Greenland. This will be the first time information on the cycle, sources and sinks of CO2 are obtained in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Understanding the climate: Climate changes are often out of phase in the Northern and Southern hemisphere. Ocean circulation moves energy and carbon between the poles. Better models based on ice core data will advance our knowledge of the relationship between the two hemispheres.
  • International Center: The Center will be a focal point of the International activity for a new deep drilling project, NEEM, and for the International Polar Year activities on the stability of the Greenland ice sheet. This will provide an innovative environment for education and exchange of young researchers.

Centre outline, goals, and methods

A comprehensive description of the centre goals and the methods proposed to meet these goals is available in this PDF document.