Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) allows one to measure minute traces of both cosmogenic and anthropogenic radioisotopes in many domains of the environment. One of the most popular application is 14C dating in archeology. However, 14C and other long-lived radioisotopes can also be used to study processes relevant to climate changes.
Discussions on climate change usually spark controversies on what might or might not happen with our climate in the near future. Since a better understanding of our earth system is a prerequisite for better predictions, any contribution to the former will slowly establish a more rational basis for these discussions. AMS has the power of tracing short-term effects of climate changes , e.g. the waxing and waning of glaciers in recent times. Great efforts are also under way with the help of AMS and other methods to get deeper insights into global ocean currents, a major contributor to the climate on earth. Another important area is the study of the CO2 cycle, which benefits from the 14C bomb peak.
Following Einstein's dictum that "it is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong", the view of a physicist interested in a better overall understanding of our earth system with respect to climate change will be presented.
Argonne Physics Division Colloquium Schedule