This coming spring/summer, Expedition 347 is venturing into the Baltic Sea Basin (BSB), a 373,000 km2 glacially eroded basin in Northern Europe, with Expedition Project Manager Carol Cotterill from our BGS Edinburgh Office.
Location of the Baltic Sea © NormanEinstein, May 25, 2006 and the proposed expedition drilling sites © ECORD
The answers to many globally significant questions relating to climate forcing, climate systems and microbial responses are locked in the deep sea sediments of the BSB, and a geotechnical drill ship complete with a team of international scientists and operations staff, all working in mobile laboratories, are heading out to attempt to answer them.
Typical geotechnical drillship used in a previous IODP offshore expedition, with our turquoise mobile lab containers
As this basin is located in the heart of an area that has been through numerous glacial fluxes, it holds an unparalleled and unique archive of high resolution information for climate change over the last 130,000 years. Expedition 347 aims to retrieve a complete record of this history and answer questions concerning the last interglacial period – can we tie together the North European terrestrial records with the Greenland ice core records and the North Atlantic oceanic records; the last ice age and whether the past Scandinavian Ice Sheet was active in causing climate changes or merely responded to changes; causes of the climatic fluctuations and how the microbial communities responded to changes between glacial and interglacial times. Importantly this wealth of scientific information can be used to help predict how climate interactions between the Asian monsoon systems, oceanic circulation and changes to the ice cover in the northern hemisphere may influence the BSB and North Western Europe in the future.
Carol on a previous expedition in 2009 – Chatting with the Operations Superintendant Dave Smith (BGS Loanhead) and driving the BGS ROV
If you want a more in-depth read on the scientific background, aims and objectives please follow the IODP link to the Scientific Prospectus. I’ll be taking a simple look at each of the 4 aims over the next few months in the run up to Expedition 347's launch. I’ll also be posting regular updates from Carol about life and the activities onboard as she sails out with the Expedition later year.