DESIRE (Dynamics of the Earth System and the Ice-Core Record) was part of Theme 2 QUEST (Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System) programme. The project involved an Anglo-French collaboration between QUEST and INSU (Institut national des sciences de l'univers). The project responded to a call to “explain the major changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentration over glacial-interglacial timescales”. The project had three strands. In the first strand, tools to improve understanding and modelling of methane were worked on; this included improvements to models, as well as new constraining datasets. In the second strand, similar improvements for CO2 were to be made. The third strand included model simulations and a major data compilation covering the 800,000 year ice core period.
Much of the early research in this project used the simple Earth system model GENIE, which generally yields robust results. For example, CO2-forced transient simulations over 650,000 years reproduced Antarctic temperature anomalies with a high correlation, broadly capturing the QUEST Final Report, June 2011 22 magnitude of glacial-interglacial temperature changes. This study found that warm peaks in interglacials are consistent with changes in the meridional overturning circulation.