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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: We don't care
By spread on 3/3/2011 8:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
Oh no! What a sham. Having to cut down on pollution and waste.

I guess there's no point in clean energy and electric vehicles.

RE: We don't care
By TSS on 3/4/2011 11:29:23 AM , Rating: 2
Considering electric vehicles will need power, which requires the grid to be upgraded (enviromental impact) and a heck of alot more power generation (done by coal), i very much doubt there's any point in them. The only pollution they clear up is noise pollution, atleast until politicians start legislating sirenes because a deaf person got hit, or a normal person sues a car company because they didn't look "but also didn't hear it comming". And just wait untill your replacing batteries for 65 million vehicles.

As for clean energy, that's a fallacy. There is no clean energy. Because there is no free energy. Wind energy isn't free - the wind needs that energy. Take it from the wind, and it might stop raining in certain areas. Solar isn't free either - it converts what would heat up the surface of the earth and converts it into electricity (not to mention plants need sunlight - no growing stuff beneath solar panels). Because solar panels aren't used much that we don't notice this effect yet. But before we started installing mass installations of huge wind turbines nobody though the wind could actually lose power either.

So while i'm pretty sure you didn't mean to, you are correct.

RE: We don't care
By kjboughton on 3/4/2011 2:56:54 PM , Rating: 2
CO2 isn't a pollutant, no matter how much you wish it were.

And for (obvious) reasons, there will always be waste. See: Laws of Thermodynamics.

That being said, we all strive for more efficient means of energy production.

My point still stands though. This is a tech website, and seeing as how my initial comment has achieved a rating of "5" (as of today, 3/4/2011) it appears as though a vast majority of DailyTech's readers also agree with me, and not with you.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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