When these organisms die, the radiocarbon begins to slowly dissipate; scientists can estimate a specimen’s age by measuring what’s left. How red it is tells how quickly things turn over.” His work focuses on the mysterious rise in carbon dioxide that occurred in the atmosphere between 18,000 and 11,000 years ago, as the planet emerged from the last glacial period.“The whole biosphere is labeled with carbon-14,” says John Southon, Earth system science researcher and Keck lab co-founder who manages the facility. “We’re trying to find out where the excess CO came from, because if we can’t explain it, that means our climate models are flawed,” Southon says.The team conducting the research consists of scientists from the U.
“High-precision carbon-14 measurements are made for scientists working in every carbon pool on Earth,” Druffel says, “from atmospheric CO at Barrow, Alaska, to foram shells from Antarctic Ocean sediment, to earthquake-disturbed soil on the San Andreas fault, to black carbon in the deep Pacific.” Circle of life Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope formed in the atmosphere by cosmic rays and absorbed by plants, animals and all other living things.The wine-residue-bearing amphorae, which amazingly were found intact, are reliably dated as being from the fourth millennium BC.This is a period known as the Copper Age when early Europeans began using metal tools and more complex social structures and trading networks began to evolve.Like the Sherlock Holmes of vino, Fuller investigates whether the bottles indeed contain the fruit of very good years – or a cheap replacement.Dating fine wine is one of the more unusual projects underway at UC Irvine’s W. Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, where scientists use radiocarbon technology to estimate the age of organic material.
He’s checking core samples from the ocean floor to see if the carbon was somehow trapped in the deep sea before being released back out into the atmosphere.