University of Innsbruck

Botanical Colloquium WS 2022/23

Microfossils in ice cores - Frozen records of past ecosystem dynamics

Dr. Sandra Olivia Brügger, Universität Basel und Paul Scherrer Institut, Schweiz

Glaciers preserve microfossils over millennia. Recent analytical advances allow extraction of these microfossils from ice archives in enough numbers to achieve continuous records of past environmental dynamics and to address ecological questions. We use optical analyses of pollen and spores as a proxy for vegetation composition and microscopic charcoal to infer fire activity from ice cores. In addition, we record spheroidal carbonaceous particles as a tracer for fossil fuel pollution during the Industrial period. Our array microfossil records covers major biomes with large-scale environmental reconstructions from glacier sites in the Alps, the Altai, the Andes, and Greenland, with an emphasis on studying environmental dynamics of the vast boreal biome in North America and Siberia. The large-scale reconstructions are based on excellent chronologies, particularly over the most recent 200 years, the period that experienced important climatic changes and an increasing globalization of economies. I will discuss the potential of ice palynology with case studies from individual ice cores, and then present the combined records to derive implications regarding global biomass burning and regional fossil fuel pollution history.

 17:00 – Lecture Hall A – Institute of Botany

Full program WS2022/23