A major challenge of modeling past climate change - and predicting the possible future patterns of the current climate warming - is that the data sets we have on Holocene climate changes in the polar regions are few and that existing ones are often hampered by noise, making comparisons between the two hemispheres difficult. New datasets are urgently needed in order to provide a firmer basis for modeling and understanding dynamic interactions between important components such as polar ice, atmospheric circulation patterns, sea-surface temperatures, sea-ice, and also for predicting potential consequences associated with regional climate changes. Without acquiring a better knowledge of the true natural climate variability of the Polar regions, it will be extremely difficult to assess the future importance of such underlying trends.
This cross-disciplinary proposal seeks to address these major limitations by launching a research programme that will collect and produce data on glacier variability throughout the last 10 000 years, a research effort that will be carried out in the polar regions of the World. Alpine glaciers represent natural systems that are particular sensitive to climate change (this we know from modern observations) and the sites chosen for this purpose are also located in areas that are witnessing rapid ongoing change including Spitsbergen and Sennalandet in Arctic Norway (northern hemisphere) as well as South Georgia and Kerguelen (southern hemisphere). Comparable datasets on glacier variability will provide new high-quality proxy-data on spatial, temporal, and scalar climate change through the Holocene. By doing so we will be able to construct accurate reconstructions of past shifts and trends in the major polar atmospheric circulation systems, as these are intimately linked to the physical activity of alpine glaciers.