Claude Lorius


Premio Balzan 2001 per la climatologia

Progetto di ricerca 

Research on the Mechanisms Governing the Climate System

Global climate change has become a pressing topic of scientific research. The central problem is explaining the causes of the increase in temperature and the potential effects of this. The study of this problem is extremely complex because of the many factors that can contribute to global warming, whether natural or related to human activity. Thus an analysis of the history of thermal evolution of the surface of the earth is fundamental in distinguishing between changes that are "physiological" and those caused by human activity.

One of the most important methods of inquiry into past climate change is the study of polar ice, which is a natural laboratory preserving a “historic memory” of climate changes. Claude Lorius and his group worked for decades on this issue. They were the first to reconstruct not only the history of the Earth’s climate by analyzing polar ice, but also that of the composition of the atmosphere, derived from the analysis of air bub­bles that were trapped in the ice over hundreds of thousands of years. Research was carried out in particular on ice samples taken in proximity to Lake Vostok in Antarctica. Their re­search allowed them to establish the causal relationships between climate and con­tent of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In the context of this, Claude Lorius initially planned to finance three projects with the second half of the Balzan Prize, but in actual fact was also able to finance a fourth. The four groups of young researchers, each led by a senior researcher, presented their results in March 2008.

Project I
Antartic Palaeo-temperatures and Antarctic climate mechanisms: cross-use of water isotopes (dD, d18O) and air isotopes (d15N, d40Ar)
Senior Researcher: Jean Jouzel

Project II
Climate and atmospheric chemistry: Constraints due to isotopes of oxygen and sulfur
Senior Researcher: Joel Savarino

Project III
Study of impurities in the ice: aerosols and organic content
Senior Researcher: Jean Robert Petit

Project IV
Record of atmospheric CO2 during Stage 11, 400,000 years ago
Senior Researcher: Dominique Raynaud


Caillon N, Jouzel J, Severinghaus JP, Chappellaz J, Blunier T. 2003. A novel method to study the phase relationship between Antarctic and Greenland climate. Geophysical Research Letters. vol. 30 (17): 1899.

Caillon N, Severinghaus JP, Jouzel J, Barnola J-M, Kang J, Lipenkov VY. 2003. Timing of Atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic Temperature Changes Across Termination III. Science. 299.

Landais A, Chappellaz J, Delmotte M, Jouzel J, Bourg C, Blunier T, Caillon N, Cherrier S, Malaizé B, Masson-Delmotte V, Raynaud D, Steffensen JP. 2003. A tentative reconstruction of the last interglacial and glacial inception based on newgas measurements in the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) ice core. Journal of Geophysical Research. Vol. 108, No. D18, 4563.

Stenni B, Jouzel J, Masson-Delmotte V, Castellano E, Cattani O, Falourd S, Johnsen SJ, Longinelli A, Röthlisberger R, Sachs JP, Selmo E, Souchez R, Steffenssen JP, Udisti R. 2003. A high resolution site and source late glacial temperature record derived from the EPICA Dome C isotope record. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 217: 183-195.

Raynaud D et al. 2003. Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11 in the Vostok ice core: CO2 Forcing and Stability of East Antarctica. Droxler WA et al., editors. Earth’s Climate and Orbital Eccentricity: The Marine Isotope Stage 11 Question, 27-40. Washington (DC): American Geophysical Union.

North Greenland Ice-core project (NorthGRIP). Andersen KK, Barnola J-M, Bigler M, Biscaye P, Caillon N, Chappellaz J, Clausen HB, Dahl-Jensen D, Fischer H, Flückiger J, Fujii Y, Grønvold K, Gundestrup NS, Hansson M, Huber C, Hvidberg CS, Johnsen SJ, Johnson U, Jouzel J, Kipfstuhl S, Landais A, Leuenberger M, Lorrain R, Masson-Delmotte V, Miller H, Popp T, Raynaud D, Rothlisberger R, Ruth U, Samyn D, Schwander J, Shoji H, Siggard-Andersen M-L, Steffensen JP, Stocker T, Sveinbjörnsdóttir AE, Svensson A, Tison J-L, Thorsteinsso T, Watanabe O, Wilhelms F, White J. 2004. High resolution climate record of the Northern Hemisphere reaching into the last Interglacial period. Nature. 431: 147-151.

Landais A, Caillon N, Severinghaus JP, Barnola JM, Goujon C, Jouzel J, Masson-Delmotte V. 2004. Analyse isotopique à haute précision de l’air piégé dans la glace pour quantifier les variations de temperature. C.R.A.S Géosciences. 336: 963-970.

Landais A, Caillon N, Goujon C, Grachev A, Barnola JM, Chappellaz J, Jouzel J, Masson-Delmotte V Leuenberger M. 2004. Quantification of rapid temperature change during DO event 12 and phasing with methane inferred from air isotopic measurements. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 225: 221-232.

Landais A, Barnola J-M, Masson-Delmotte V, Jouzel J, Chappellaz J, Caillon N, Huber C, Leuenberger M, Johnsen S. 2004. A continuous record of temperature evolution over a whole sequence of Dansgaard-Oeschger during Marine Isotopic Stage 4 (76 to 62 kyr BP). Geophysical Research Letters. 31.

Landais A, Steffensen JP, Caillon N, Jouzel J. Masson-Delmotte V. 2004. Evidence for stratigraphic distortion in the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP) ice core during Event 5e1 (120 kyr BP) from gas isotopes. Geophysical Research Letters. 109: D06103.

Bulat S, Alekhina IA, Blot M, Petit JR, De Angelis M, Wagenbach D, Lipenkov DY, Vasilyeva L, Wloch D, Raynaud D, Lukin VV. 2004. DNA signature of thermo philic bacteria from the aged accretion ice of Lake Vostok: implications for searchinglife in extreme icy environments. Int. J. of Astrobiology. 3, 1: 1-12.

De Angelis M, Petit JR, Savarino J, Souchez R, Thiemens MH. 2004. Contribution of an ancient evaporitic-type reservoir to lake Vostok chemistry. Earth Planet. Science Lett. 222: 751-765.

Delmonte B, Basile-Doelsch I, Petit JR, Maggi V, Revel-Roland M, Michard A, Jagoutz E, Grousset FE. 2004. Comparing the Epica and Vostok dust records during the last 220,000 years: stratigraphical correlation and provenance in glacial periods. Earth Science Reviews”, 66: 63-87.

Delmonte B, Petit JR, Andersen KK, Basile-Doelsch I, Maggi V, Lipenkov VYa. 2004. Opposite regional atmospheric circulation changes over east Antarctica during the last climatic transition evidenced by dust size distributions changes. Climate Dynamics, 23:427-438.

Delmonte B, Petit JR, Basile-Doelsch I, Lipenkov VY, Maggi V. 2004. First characterization and dating of East Antarctic bedrock inclusions from subglacial Lake Vostok accreted ice, Environmental Chemistry. 1: 90-94.

Delmonte B, Basile-Doelsch I, Petit JR, Maggi V, Revel RM, Michard A, Jagoutz E, Grousset FE. 2004. Comparing the Epica and Vostok dust records during the last 220,000 years: stratigraphical correlation and origin in glacial periods. Earth Science Reviews. 66: 63-87.

EPICA Community Members. 2004. Eight Glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core. Nature. 429: 623-628.

Petit JR. 2004. Geophysical, geochemical, glaciological and energy balance model constraints to the Lake Vostok. Mater. Glyatsiol. Issled. 97: 91-100.

Landais A, Jouzel J, Masson-Delmotte V, Caillon N. 2005. The temperature evolution over rapid climatic events in Greenland: a method based on air isotopic measurements. CRAS. 377: 947-956.

Masson-Delmotte V, Jouzel J, Landais A, Stiévenard M, Johnsen SJ, White JWC, Werner M, Sveinbjörnsdóttir A, Fuhrer K. 2005. GRIP deuterium excess reveals rapid and orbital changes of Greenland moisture origin. Science. 309:118-121.

Alekhina IA, Petit JR, Lukin VV, Vasiliev NI, Bulat SA. 2005. Estimate for bacterial contents of 5G-1 borehole drilling fluid, Vostok station, Antarctica. Mater. Glyatsiol. Issled. [Data Glaciol. Stud.] 98: 109-117.

Delmonte B, Petit JR, Krinner G, Maggi V, Jouzel J, Udisti R. 2005. Ice core evidence for secular variability and 200-year dipolar oscillations in atmospheric circulation over East Antarctica during the Holocene. Climate Dynamics.

Gabrielli P, Planchon FAM, Hong S, Lee KH, Barbante C, Ferrari CP, Petit JR, Lipenkov V, Cescon P, Boutron CF. 2005. Trace elements in Vostok Antarctic ice during the last four climate cycles, “Earth and Planetary Science Letters”, 234: 249-259.

Hong S, Boutron CF, Barbante C, Do Hur S, Lee K, Gabrielli P, Capodaglio G, Ferrari CP, Turetta C, Petit JR, Lipenkov VYa. 2005. Glacial-interglacial changes in the occurrence of Pb, Cd, Cu and Zn in Vostok Antarctic ice from 240,000 to 410,000 years BP. J. Environ Monit. Dec. 7 (12):1326-31.

Raynaud D, Barnola J-M, Souchez R, Lorrain R, Petit JR, Duval P, Lipenkov V. 2005. The record for marine isotopic stage 11. Nature. 436: 39-40.

Siegenthaler U, Stocker TF, Monnin E, Lüthi D, Schwander J, Stauffer B, Raynaud D, Barnola J-M, Fischer H, Masson-Delmotte V, Jouzel J. 2005. Stable Carbon Cycle-Climate Relationship During the Late Pleistocene. Science. 310: 1313-1317.

Huber C, Leuenberger M, Spahni R, Flückiger J, Schwander J, Stocker TF, Johnsen S, Landais A, Jouzel J. 2006. Isotope Calibrated Greenland Temperature Record over Marine Isotope Stage 3 and its Relation to CH4. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 243 (3-4): 504-519.

Landais A, Masson-Delmotte V, Jouzel J et al. 2006. The glacial inception as recorded in the NorthGRIP Greenland ice core: timing, structure and associated abrupt temperature changes. Climate Dynamics. 2, 26 (2-3): 273-284.

Landais A, Barnola J-M, Kawamura K, Caillon N, Delmotte M, Dreyfus G, Jouzel J, Masson-Delmotte V, Minster B, Freitag J, Leuenberger M, Huber C, Schwander J, Etheridge D, Morgan V, Van Ommen T. 2006. Air 15N in modern firn and glacialinterglacial ice: a model-data mismatch during glacial periods in Antarctica? Quat. Sci.Rev. 25 (1-2): 49-62. Morin S, Savarino J. 2006. Une nouvelle application des isotopes stables del’oxygène. L’actualité chimique. 303: 14-18.

EPICA Community Members. 2006. One-to-one coupling of polar climate variability. Nature. 444: 195-198.

Gaspari V, Barbante C, Cozzi G, Cescon P, Boutron CF, Gabrielli P, Capodaglio G, Ferrari C, Petit JR, Delmonte B. 2006. Atmospheric iron fluxes over the last deglaciation: climatic implications. Geophysical Research Letters. 33.

Lavire C, Normand P, Alekhina I, Bulat S, Prieur D, Birrien JL, Fournier P, Hänni C, Petit JR. 2006. Presence of Hydrogenophylus thermoluteolus DNA in accretion ice in the subglacial Lake Vostok, Antarctica, assessed using rrs, cbb and hox. Environmental Microbiology. 8 (12): 2106-2114.

Baroni M, Thiemens MH, Delmas RJ, Savarino J. Mass-independent sulfur isotopic compositions in stratospheric volcanic eruptions. 2007. Science. 315: 84-87.

Morin S, Savarino J, Bekki S, Cavender A, Shepson PB, Bottenheim JW. 2007. Major influence of BrO on the NOx and nitrate budgets in the Arctic spring, inferred from Δ17O(NO3-) measurements during ozone depletion events. Environ. Chem. 4: 238-241.

Morin S, Savarino J, Bekki S, Gong S, Bottenheim JW. 2007. Signature of Arctic surface ozone depletion events in the isotope anomaly (Δ17O) of atmosphericnitrate. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 7: 1451-1469.

Savarino J, Kaiser J, Morin S, Sigman DM, Thiemens MH. 2007. Nitrogen and oxygen isotopic constraints on the origin of atmospheric nitrate in coastal Antarctica. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 7: 1925-1945.

Dreyfus G, Parrenin F, Lemieux-Dudon B, Durand G, Masson-Delmotte V, Jouzel J, Barnola J-M, Panno L, Spahni R, Tisserand A, Siegenthaler U, Leuenberger M. 2007. Anomalous flow below 2700 m in the EPICA Dome C ice core detected using d18O of atmospheric oxygen measurements. Climate of the Past, Special issue (EPICA ice cores age scales). 3: 341-353.

Parrenin F, Barnola J-M, Beer J, Blunier T, Castellano E, Chappellaz J, Dreyfus G, Fischer H, Fujita S, Jouzel J, Kawamura K, Lemieux-Dudon B, Loulergue L, Masson-Delmotte V, Narcisi B, Petit JR, Raisbeck G, Raynaud D, Ruth U, Schwander J. 2007. The EDC3 chronology of the EPICA Dome C ice core, Climate of the Past, Special issue (EPICA ice cores age scales), 3: 485-497.

Landais A, Masson-Delmotte V, Nebout NC et al. 2007. Millenial scale variations of the isotopic composition of atmospheric oxygen over Marine Isotopic Stage 4. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 258 (1-2): 101-113.

Jouzel J, Masson-Delmotte V, Cattani O, Dreyfus G, Falourd S, Hoffmann G, Minster B, Nouet J, Barnola J-M, Chappellaz J, Fischer H, Gallet JC, Johnsen S, Leuenberger M, Loulergue L, Luethi D, Oerter H, Parrenin F, Raisbeck G, Raynaud D, Schilt A, Schwander J, Selmo E, Souchez R, Spahni R, Stauffer B, Steffensen JP, Stenni B, Stocker TF, Tison JL, Werner M, Wolff E, Wolff W. 2007. Orbital and Millennial Antarctic Climate Variability over the Past 800,000 Years. Science. 317.

Baroni M, Thiemens MH, Delmas RJ, Savarino J. 2007. Mass-independent sulfur isotopic compositions in stratospheric volcanic eruptions. Science. 315.

Jouzel J, Masson-Delmotte V, Cattani O, Dreyfus G, Falourd S, Hoffmann G, Nouet J, Johnsen SJ, Leuenberger M, Oerter H, Parrenin F, Raisbeck G, Schwander J, Souchez R, Selmo E, Stenni B, Stocker T, Werner M. 2007. Orbital and millennial Antarctic climate variability over the last 800,000 years. Science. 317: 793-796.

Alekhina I, Marie D, Petit JR, Lukin VV, Zubkov VN, Bulat S. 2007. Molecular analysis of bacterial diversity in kerosene-based drilling fluid from the deep ice borehole at Vostok, East Antarctica. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 59: 289-299.

Xu J, Hou S, Ren J, Petit JR. 2007. Insoluble dust in a new core from Dome Argus, central Antarctica. J. Glaciol. 53 (180): 154-155.

Delmonte B, Andersson PS, Hansson M, Schöberg H, Petit JR, Basile-Doelsch I, Maggi V. 2008. Aeolian dust in East Antarctica (EPICA-Dome C and Vostok): provenance during glacial ages over the last 800 kyr. Geophys. Res. Lett.

Lambert F, Delmonte B, Petit JR, Bigler M, Kaufmann PR, Hutterli MA, Stocker TF, Ruth U, Steffensen JP, Maggi V. 2008. Dust-climate couplings over the past 800,000 years from the EPICA Dome C ice core. Nature.

Delmonte B, Delmas RJ, Petit JR. 2008. Comments to “Dust Provenance in Antarctic Ice during Glacial Periods: from where in southern South America?” by D.M. Gaiero. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L08707, doi:10.1029/2007GL032075.

Laurantou A, Lavric JV, Köhler P, Barnola J-M, Paillard D, Michel E, Raynaud D, Chappellaz J. 2010. Constraint of the CO2 rise by new atmospheric carbon isotopic measurements during the last deglaciation. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 24, GB2015 doi:10.1029/2009GB003545, 2010.

Excerpt from the: The Balzan Prizewinners’ Research Projects: An Overview 2016