Dr. Lev Tarasov
Canada Research Chair in Glacial Dynamics Modelling
Research Involves: Climate change and ocean environment modelling
Research Relevance: The research chair will investigate the mutual interactions between past and present ice sheets and climate to expand our understanding of potential climate system thresholds and instabilities.
Ice, water, and climate
A 15-20 meter rise in sea-level within 500 years, a 10 degrees Celsius rise in regional temperatures around the North Atlantic within 20 years… no… these are not from the latest Hollywood adventure, but well-documented events from the last deglaciation.
Climate change has become a pivotal environmental issue, with the polar and sub-polar regions expected to experience the strongest change. Abrupt climate change carries potentially the greatest impact but is also the most difficult aspect of climate dynamics to pin down. Changes in the amount of melt-water entering the Arctic Ocean may have played a critical role in abrupt climate events. Dramatic accelerations of outlet glaciers and ice-streams in Greenland and Antarctica have also increased concerns about future changes in sea-level.
With multi-kilometre thick ice-sheets, torrential melt-water flows, and pulses of ice-berg discharges, the last glacial cycle offers a window into large-scale climate change. Ice and climate oscillations have left a multitude of signatures in the continuously deforming surface of the earth, in relic landforms, and in geochemical and biological records. Deciphering the sum total of these records, however, continues to be a major challenge.
As a Canada Research Chair in Glacial Dynamics Modelling, Dr. Tarasov intends to sharpen our understanding of and delineate the uncertainties associated with the interactions between ice and climate. This will be accomplished through large ensemble modelling of the glacial climate system, using sophisticated ice-climate-earth computer models calibrated against extensive paleo data-sets. This statistical melding of observational records with modelling will allow the determination of clear error bars for model results and an objective integration of these diverse paleo-records.
Through a collaborative and interdisciplinary Earth System Science approach, this modelling will contribute to our understanding of potential climate system thresholds and instabilities. Improved constraints on past and future ice and climate evolution will also support ongoing discussions concerning the policy response to global change.