What might lie in the waters of Diss Mere? And could it help predict the future effects of climate change on Earth?
These are some of the questions at the heart of a major research project by the Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL), supported by a European Union fund, which will extract sediment samples from the Mere over the next week.
Researchers built a coring platform and started gathering annually laminated sediments today, in order to learn about geological events, potentially dating as far back as 10,000 years ago.
Dr Adrian Palmer, Senior Research Officer at the RHUL’s Centre for Quaternary Research, told the Diss Express: “The Diss Mere has always held some interest for us. There are laminates there that are the equivalent of tree rings.
“The prime focus of this project is to investigate whether there is any influence in the variations of solar activity.
“If you know how much it varies naturally and have an idea of the background conditions, you can input that into the models for future climate change.
“By doing that, we can predict in the future what the impact of man-made climate change can be.”
Dr Palmer said the university had known of the research potential for years — after a study by Sylvia Peglar in 1984 outlined in detail chemical and biological compositions in the Mere, from 5500 to 2500 years B.P. (Before Present) — but it had been waiting for grants.
The project, led by Dr Simon Blockley, has now been backed with £141,900 from the EU’s Marie Curie Fellowship, plus a grant from the Royal Society.
The Diss Mere is one of three locations around Europe being sampled — along with sites in France and Germany, which will be analysed during the next five years.
Once samples have been collected from all sites, the team intends to synchronise their data, in the hope of gaining a better understanding of how the planet might respond to climate change in the coming decades.
Dr Palmer stated elements of natural climate change in the past, which they may find evidence of in the Diss Mere, could possibly either enhance man-made climate change or even counteract it.
For updates on the project across the next week, you can follow the team’s progress on Twitter — @RHULGeography and @CQRRHUL