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UC Davis researchers plan to study sediment cores to predict future climate  (Source:
More carbon dioxide-related worries lead to a study of the Earth's rock/dirt cores in an effort to understand past climate transitions and to predict future climate conditions

Isabel Montañez, study leader and a geologist from the University of California at Davis, and a team of researchers, plan to study the cores of rocks and dirt around the world in an effort to understand transitions, such as those between icehouse and greenhouse states, in climate throughout history.

Scientists who have studied rocks and ice from 2 million years ago have already composed a record of Earth’s changing climate, but according to UC Davis researchers, the problem is that our atmosphere contains 25 to 30 percent more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than "at any point in that record." 

Now, worried by what the climate future may hold in regards to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted, the UC Davis research team is looking to study transitions between various climate-related states at different sites around the world through the cores of rocks and dirt. By understanding the past, they hope to predict the future. 

"Those past times of higher CO2 were much warmer, and there were processes operating that don't operate in our current climate,” said Montañez. "And they lead to amplified change, accelerated warming, changes in ice sheets, things like that."

The basis for the team's research are geologic events such as the burst of volcanic eruptions 55 million years ago, which filled the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and increased global temperatures. From there, the UC Davis team stated that the oceans were warmed, which led to the release of large amounts of methane, which accelerated warming. This caused the extinction event known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, and the team claims this could happen at some point today or in the future.  

"If we continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere and don't do something about abating those emissions, by the end of this century we are looking to be where we were 35 million years ago," said Montañez. 

Sediment cores contain minerals, shells and plants that can be used to measure levels of carbon dioxide as well as temperature. Through this, the UC Davis team is looking to study transitions between icehouse and greenhouse states. 

"These are all proxies [and] the technology that allows us to define these proxies has been revolutionized in the last decade in terms of its ability to do that and to actually read time in old sediments and rocks," said Montañez.  

The researchers also noted that scientists in the future will look at rock cores from today in order to understand the transition to the Anthropocene, or the age of man. Montañez said that the Anthropocene will end about "80,000 years from now," and that it will probably look much like the intervals seen in the past they are studying today. 

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RE: amusing
By gamerk2 on 3/3/2011 1:07:07 PM , Rating: 2
Over the long term, as in the past 300k years, yes, its been cooler. Short term though [as in, the last century], its clearly been warmer on average, and the warming is expected to be an exponential trend [IE: Slow starting, then rapidly accelerating].

So yeah, its not fair to look at a 300 year period to explain 100 years worth of change; that skews the average toward to cooler.

RE: amusing
By drycrust3 on 3/3/2011 2:11:33 PM , Rating: 5
Short term though [as in, the last century], its clearly been warmer on average, and the warming is expected to be an exponential trend [IE: Slow starting, then rapidly accelerating].

See this: this is exactly why corrupting your raw data is so dangerous! The Universtiy of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit emails showed that not only were they corrupting the raw data, but extraordinarily their scientists didn't think there was anything wrong with that!
How do we know that the average temperature has been warming for the last 100 years? Because our records tell us that! But didn't you corrupted your records to show that? Well, yes, we did! Ok, so you think that is ok? Yes. But isn't that unscientific? Well, yes it is. So essentially, despite the meticulous research of tens of thousands of scientists around the world, we don't actually know for sure what the climate was around the world for the last 100 years? Ummm ... yes. So the earth may have got warmer, or colder, or stayed pretty much the same and we just don't know? Correct.

RE: amusing
By TSS on 3/4/2011 11:10:47 AM , Rating: 3
But...but... There is a concencus! I'm super serial!

</Al Gore>

RE: amusing
By geddarkstorm on 3/3/2011 3:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
Thermodynamics would like to have a word.

Don't forget that the radiation back scattering (aka greenhouse) effect of CO2 is geometric with concentration. That is each doubling of CO2 increases temperature by the same amount. So, it is very much not exponential, nor could it ever be.

RE: amusing
By JediJeb on 3/3/2011 3:54:31 PM , Rating: 2
What if it is discovered that the position of the Continental Plates is the cause, should we then devote our full effort into trying to freeze them in place so they never move again?

In the past CO2 levels have been higher with lower temperatures than now, also temperatures have been higher with lower CO2 levels than we have now, so can we be certain humans are causing the warming simply because we emit CO2? Also how can we predict with certainty that the warming will become exponential? What if as the warming accelerates the flow of fresh water from ice melting shuts down the ocean currents and drives us into another ice age? Did they plug the millions of possible variables into the equations to support the conclusion of exponential warming or did they use only a few?

Man should take a lesson from past history and understand that climate has never been "stable" for very long at a stretch and take steps to adapt or we will have to suffer more when the consequences finally hit. We build cities along shorelines which we know have changed in the past with higher and lower sea levels yet we think that since we have established our presence there the shorelines should now never change because we can not tolerate such disobedience from nature. Man once crossed on dry land from Russia into North America, if he had built a city the size of New York along the shore line then, where would it be now? Under water just like New York will be some day as nature has its way with mankind. If instead we suddenly change from warming to cooling and the major coastal cities are then land locked with no ports because sea levels have fallen, will man they cry that we need to melt the polar caps so they can continue shipping goods into their ports without having to move the ports out to the water?

Mankind is not big enough to control the Earth, and until we understand that, we are doomed to a short existence. Adapt and survive, whine and complain only leads to extinction.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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