Historic Climate Clues at Lake El’gygytgyn
— 3.6 million years ago an asteroid impacted the earth in what we currently call Russia. Professor Julie Brigham-Grette and her team braved Siberian weather and perched a giant drill atop frozen Lake El’gygytgyn to extract earth cores from the site of the impact. This important depositional record represents 3.6 million years worth of data concerning our planet’s climate history.
Among the many challenges facing the scientific community is determining why and how the Arctic climate system evolved from a warm forested ecosystem into a cold permafrost ecosystem. The Arctic region suffered this climate change sometime between 2 million and 3 million years ago during the mid-to-late Pliocene.
Now scientists are unlocking clues from the rocks of Lake El’Gygytgyn, a site where 3.6 million years ago an asteroid impacted the earth. Extracted sediment cores provide a continuous depositional record. The record scientists are studying from the site of the lake will provide, for the first time, an Arctic terrestrial perspective, reflecting new information of the mechanisms and dynamics of glacial-interglacial and millennial-scale change in the high-latitude region.
Scientists also help teachers build system science into the classroom during teacher training workshops.