Topic: Glaciers

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Potential Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Climate change Environment Antarctica Glaciers

The Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is the segment of the continental ice sheet that covers West Antarctica, the portion of Antarctica on the side of the Transantarctic Mountains that lies in the Western Hemisphere. The WAIS is classified as a marine-based ice sheet, meaning that its bed lies well below sea level and its edges flow into floating ice shelves. The WAIS is bounded by the Ross Ice Shelf, the Ronne Ice Shelf, and outlet glaciers that drain into the Amundsen Sea.

774–775 carbon-14 spike

Environment Meteorology Astronomy Middle Ages Middle Ages/History Geology Glaciers Solar System

The 774–775 carbon-14 spike is an observed increase of 1.2% in the concentration of carbon-14 isotope in tree rings dated to 774 or 775, which is about 20 times as high as the normal background rate of variation. It was discovered during a study of Japanese cedar trees, with the year of occurrence determined through dendrochronology. A surge in beryllium isotope 10
, detected in Antarctic ice cores, has also been associated with the 774–775 event. It is known as the Miyake event or the Charlemagne event and it produced the largest and most rapid rise in carbon-14 ever recorded.

The event appears to have been global, with the same carbon-14 signal found in tree rings from Germany, Russia, the United States, Finland and New Zealand.

The signal exhibits a sharp increase of around 1.2% followed by a slow decline (see Figure 1), which is typical for an instant production of carbon-14 in the atmosphere, indicating that the event was short in duration. The globally averaged production of carbon-14 for this event is calculated as Q = 1.3×108 ± 0.2×108 atoms/cm2.

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