Climate of the last million years: new insights from EPICA and other records
The papers in this issue originate from a symposium held in Venice in November 2008 to celebrate the official end of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA). The meeting brought together ice core scientists from around the world, but also a large group of renowned researchers from other backgrounds (marine and terrestrial archives, climate and ice sheet modelling) interested in the climate of the past million years. The papers in the issue therefore represent a cross-section of current advances and ideas in the science of this time period, albeit with a strong bias towards the findings of ice core science, and of the EPICA ice cores in particular. In this introductory paper, we first summarise the background, progress and achievements of the EPICA project, then outline the organisation and execution of the symposium, and finally describe very briefly the scientific papers that can be found in this issue. Ice cores have emerged in the last three decades as a cornerstone of palaeoclimate research for the most recent glacial–interglacial cycles ([EPICA Community Members, 2004] and EPICA Community Members, 2006 EPICA Community Members, One-to-one hemispheric coupling of millennial polar climate variability during the last glacial, Nature 444 (2006), pp. 195–198.[EPICA Community Members, 2006]). They complement the information about climate on land held in terrestrial archives, and about ocean circulation, chemistry and climate held in marine sediments. Together, these archives offer a wide range of constraints for climate models. Ice cores are able uniquely to supply direct information about greenhouse gas concentrations in the past, and play a strong role by combining data about a wide range of forcings (including greenhouse gases, solar and volcanic activity) with information about a wide range of responses. While the current volume focuses on the new EPICA ice cores, that work builds on a huge legacy of drilling expeditions, and analytical and scientific advances, from the pioneering studies in Greenland and at Byrd station in Antarctica, through the longest previous records from Vostok and Dome Fuji.