Russian science foundation project N17-17-01270

Climate and environmental reconstructions over the last millennium from Mt. Elbrus ice cores in the Northern Caucasus and southern part of European Russia 


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High-mountain paleoclimatic archives are catastrophically disappearing as a result of the intensive modern warming, degradation of glaciers, and the growing anthropogenic burden. In the framework of this project the North Caucasus ice cores will be obtained and stored in the paleoclimatic data repository, created for this purpose. One part of the archive will be stored for future research, whereas the other part will be analyzed employing modern analytical methods. The ice cores will be analyzed for the isotopic and chemical composition, the concentration of microparticles and black carbon with the following reconstruction of air temperature, atmospheric precipitation, atmospheric pollution, and regional volcanic activity based on that data. Climate models developed during the last decade are employed to gain understanding of the dynamics of climate over the last millennium. The newly obtained indirect paleoclimatic data for the North Caucasus will be compared with the results of the numerical climate modeling within the framework of PMIP3/CMIP5 programs. Climate variability will be analyzed for the last millennium, more specifically, it is expected to consider the pre-industrial period (1750-1900 AD) and the last 50 years separately based on the data of the NCEP/NCAR, ERA-INTERIM, CFSR reanalysis. Based on the comparison of simulation results for the selected time intervals we will obtain quantitative estimates of the relative contribution of natural and anthropogenic factors to the climatic regional variability in the North Caucasus. The question of the precipitation genesis in the mountainous areas of North Caucasus will be examined separately. It is planned to carry out numerical simulation experiments to reproduce the meteorological regime for individual contrasting summers using a mesoscale non-hydrostatic atmospheric model WRF-ARW. The proportion of local and advective moisture in precipitation will be determined based on the analysis of model fields of moisture content, cloud cover, wind divergence, vorticity field, and precipitation field  The assessment of the sensitivity of the model towards some key factors potentially having a strong impact on the regional climate (e.g. the surface temperatures of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, surface temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic, as well as the Arctic sea ice) will be carried out. These effects will be studied in separate modeling experiments using the ECHAM5 global general circulation model of the atmosphere, that is characterized by high resolution. The major focus of the project will be on the study of warm periods and periods of “undisturbed” climate, which will allow to better understand and explain the magnitude of the modern warming, the retreat of the glaciers, the anthropogenic impact, and other related natural processes occurring in the North Caucasus at present. The only in Europe and in southern Russia glacial archive of paleoclimatic data, covering the last 2000 years, will be preserved and studied as a result of the implementation of this project. The data obtained over the course of this project will allow for the first time to precisely reconstruct the amount of precipitation, the composition of atmospheric aerosols, the repeatability of dry periods, the history of air pollution for the North Caucasus and the adjacent region.