Dr. Jason P. Briner spreads the word about the effects of global climate change on ice sheets

Posted by Tara Lerman At 5:00 p.m. on Friday Feb. 22 the Geosciences department presented its annual Lester W. Strock lecture in Davis Auditorium, which featured a talk by geologist and State University of Buffalo professor Jason P. Briner on the effects of climate change on the polar ice sheets. Students and community members filled nearly all of the seats in the auditorium.

Dr. Briner began his presentation of "The Response of Ice Sheets to Abrupt Climate Change" by showing the audience a photograph of the Greenland ice sheet that he took last summer. He explained that global temperatures have experienced a warming trend in the last 100 years and supported his findings with a surface temperature anomaly map.

Briner focused on two ice sheets, one located in the Antarctic and the other around Greenland. Each season, a larger percentage of the ice sheets melt than in previous years. Last July, nearly 97% of the Greenland ice sheet melted.

After presenting a background of the effects of climate change on the Greenland ice sheets, Dr. Briner introduced some of the work he is currently doing in Greenland. He conducts fieldwork with a small group of SUNY Buffalo students for a period of a few weeks. He and his students determine the timing of glacier movements by dating rocks using a cosmogenic isotope.

"If we know the rate of 10-Beryllium production, and we take a rock sample, we can determine the rate at which it is produced and the age of the rock's surface can be calculated," explained Briner.

So what's next for this geologist? Although his work in Greenland is not yet completed, Dr. Jason Briner will soon head to northern Alaska to test the effect of climate change on the ocean.

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