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Aeolian processes and landforms in a polar desert: Proxy for regional climate variability?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Hamish
McGowan (University of Queensland)

Recent evidence has emerged from both snow pit studies and observational records of a regional climate cooling in the Ross Sea and McMurdo Dry Valleys region of the Antarctic continent. This cooling of approximately -0.7Cpd is superimposed on a longer term warming trend, and is believed to be the result of an ENSO driven variability in regional circulation patterns. In 2002 a field programme was initiated to investigate if evidence of such changing circulation patterns in the Ross Sea region could be retrieved from aeolian landforms in the Victoria Valley, McMurdo Dry Valleys. The focus of this study has been a barchan sand dune system in which it is believed a record of palaeowind characteristics may be preserved. This seminar will present an overview of this research programme, preliminary findings and forthcoming research activities against a background of the complexities of undertaking field based studies in a polar desert.

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