About the project
"The top of the world is turning from white to blue in summer as the ice that has long covered the north polar seas melts away. This monumental change is triggering a cascade of effects that will amplify global warming and could destabilize the global climate system."
This quote by the sea ice specialist Peter Wadhams (26 September 2016) highlights Arctic sea ice decline as an exponent of the rapidly transforming Arctic climate. To assess the local and global implications of the on-going climate change in the Arctic, we study the Arctic climate evolution on historical to geological time scales. However, only few methods are available to examine sea ice cover beyond the satellite era (since the 1970s), severely restricting our understanding of sea ice in the climate system.
For this reason, we are developing and assessing environmental sedimentary ancient DNA from microscopic algae as a proxy for sea ice within aDNAPROX (2017–2019). This project is a unique cross-disciplinary collaboration bringing together palaeoceanographers and molecular ecologists from the Climate and Environment departments at Uni Research. We aim to provide essential, accurate knowledge on Arctic sea ice evolution and past sea ice variability to increase the understanding of Arctic climate change and its ensuing climatic, ecological, political and economic impacts. Since the project started in 2017, we have sampled sediments that were collected by researchers of the ERC-Synergy project Ice2Ice during scientific cruises in 2015 and 2016 to the Greenland Sea. We are now in the process of generating molecular, palynological and organic biomarker data from these sediments. The data will be used to evaluate the effect of degradation on and preservation of genetic information stored in marine sediments, to ultimately develop and apply sedaDNA as novel sea ice proxy on geological time scales extending ten to hundred thousand years.