The analysis of marine sediments has become a powerful research method in paleoclimatology. The composition of the sediments carried by rivers from the mainland to the ocean can be used as a basis for calculating variables such as temperature, precipitation and marine salinity. In the context of ongoing global climate change, the study of the past is fundamental to validating the accuracy of the climate models used to make predictions (read more at: agencia.fapesp.br/25845 and agencia.fapesp.br/23134).
A novel method of sediment analysis was proposed by Vinícius Ribau Mendes, a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), in Brazil, in an article published in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). As a tribute to its originality, the study was also featured in the section “Research Spotlights” of EOS: Earth & Space Science News, another AGU publication.
The study was conducted during Mendes’s PhD research with the support of a scholarship from FAPESP and was supervised by Paulo César Fonseca Giannini. The study also received funding via a Young Investigator Grant awarded to Cristiano Mazur Chiessi, a co-author of the article, and a research grant under FAPESP’s Multiuser Equipment Program awarded to Giannini.
Mendes and collaborators analyzed marine sediment cores collected off Brazil’s northeastern coast. A marine sediment core is a tubular sample of mud extracted from the sea bed to capture stratigraphic layers while preserving the depositional sequence; younger sediments are at the top, and older sediments are at the bottom.