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UC Davis researchers plan to study sediment cores to predict future climate  (Source: web0.greatbasin.net)
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 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.


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