Dynamics of past warm climates

Published: 28/3 - 2012 Last updated: 3/10 - 2012

Thematic area: Climate sensitivity and thresholds

An iceberg is conceived: This close up photo taken in Antarctica in October 2011 shows a crack in the Pine Island Glacier 30 km long by 70 km wide and growing wider by 2 m a day. The crack is the precursor an iceberg the size of New York City expected to break loose by the end of 2011/early 2012. Pine Island Glacier has experienced accelerated melting over the last decade because of an increased flow of warm water underneath it, raising concerns of an imminent collapse that could destabilize the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Photo: NASA/Digital Mapping System team/ Michael Studinger

Warm periods in Earth´s history

DYNAWARM seeks to improve our understanding of the climate system in a warmer world by studying thresholds, the processes that govern them, and their behaviour in past and future warm climates. Specific topics of investigation include:

  1. the possibility of thresholds in the response of sea ice cover, ice sheets and Arctic biota to global warming
  2. characterizing the ocean during past warm periods, in particular the temperature and circulation in the North Atlantic and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation in the tropical Pacific.


An interdisciplinary approach combining physical oceanography, paleoceanography and numerical modelling will be used to address these unknowns.

Project Staff