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Early Climate

Trigger for past rapid sea level rise discovered

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1000pa (July 11, 2012) — The cause of rapid sea level rise in the past has been found by scientists at the University of Bristol using climate and ice sheet models. The process, named 'saddle-collapse', was found to be the cause of two rapid sea level rise events: the Meltwater pulse 1a (MWP1a) around 14,600 years ago and the '8,200 year' event.

The research is published July 11 in Nature.

Using a climate model, Dr Lauren Gregoire of Bristol's School of Geographical Sciences and colleagues unearthed the series of events that led to saddle-collapse in which domes of ice over North America became separated, leading to rapid melting and the opening of an ice free corridor. Evidence of these events has been recorded in...

Outstanding for the past 15 million years: Swiss Alps have influenced Europe’s climate since the Miocene

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1000pa (July 10, 2012) — Switzerland's highest peaks in the geologically young central Alps have been this high for quite some time, as a new study shows. 15 million years ago Europe's own mountain range was at least as high as today. Scientists at the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the Goethe University in Frankfurt and the ETH Zurich compared the isotopic ratios of water and oxygen in rocks in the Alps and Alpine foreland and were able to determine the height of the...

Natural climate shifts drove coral reefs to a total ecosystem collapse lasting 2,500 years

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1000pa (July 5, 2012) — Climate change drove coral reefs to a total ecosystem collapse lasting thousands of years, according to a paper published this week in Science. The paper shows how natural climatic shifts stopped reef growth in the eastern Pacific for 2,500 years. The reef shutdown, which began 4,000 years ago, corresponds to a period of dramatic swings in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). "As humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate is...

Pre-industrial emissions still causing temperatures to rise

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1000pa (July 4, 2012) — When evaluating the historic contributions made by different countries to the greenhouse gasses found in Earth's atmosphere, calculations generally go back no further than the year 1840. New research from Carnegie's Julia Pongratz and Ken Caldeira shows that carbon dioxide contributions from the pre-industrial era still have an impact on our climate today. Their work is published in Environmental Research Letters.

The burning of fossil fuels that came...

Pinpointing history of droughts through exploration of tree rings: Unexpected complexity in U. S. West's patterns of drought

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1000pa (July 2, 2012) — Through an exploration of tree rings and oxygen isotopes, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are now able to better pinpoint the history of droughts in the arid and semiarid areas of the American West.

A paper published in the online July 2 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explores the Medieval Climate Anomaly, a particularly warm period occurring in the northern hemisphere of the American West around 950 to 1250 C.E...

Ancient warming greened Antarctica, study finds

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1000pa (June 17, 2012) — A new university-led study with NASA participation finds ancient Antarctica was much warmer and wetter than previously suspected. The climate was suitable to support substantial vegetation -- including stunted trees -- along the edges of the frozen continent.

The team of scientists involved in the study, published online June 17 in Nature Geoscience, was led by Sarah J. Feakins of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and included...

Sea temperatures less sensitive to CO<sub>2</sub> 13 million years ago

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1000pa (June 6, 2012) — In the modern global climate, higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are associated with rising ocean temperatures. But the seas were not always so sensitive to this CO2 "forcing," according to a new report. Around 5 to 13 million years ago, oceans were warmer than they are today -- even though atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were considerably lower.

The unusual mismatch between sea temperatures and CO2 levels during this time...

Today's climate more sensitive to carbon dioxide than in past 12 million years

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1000pa (June 6, 2012) — Until now, studies of Earth's climate have documented a strong correlation between global climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide; that is, during warm periods, high concentrations of CO2 persist, while colder times correspond to relatively low levels.

However, in this week's issue of the journal Nature, paleoclimate researchers reveal that about 12-5 million years ago climate was decoupled from atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. New evidence of...

Sea temperatures less sensitive to CO2 13 million years ago

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In the modern global climate, higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are associated with rising ocean temperatures. But the seas were not always so sensitive to this CO2 "forcing," according to a new report. Around 5 to 13 million years ago, oceans were warmer than they are today -- even though atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were considerably lower.

The unusual mismatch between sea temperatures and CO2 levels during this time period hints that the...

Exceptional rise in ancient sea levels revealed

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1000pa (June 5, 2012) — Since the end of the last ice age 21,000 years ago, our planet has seen ocean levels rise by 120 meters to reach their current levels. This increase has not been constant, rather punctuated by rapid accelerations, linked to massive outburst floods from the ice caps. The largest increase, known by paleoclimatologists as 'Melt-Water Pulse 1A', proved to be enigmatic in many respects. A study recently published in Nature by a team from the CEREGE laboratory in...

Discovery of historical photos sheds light on Greenland ice loss

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1000pa (May 29, 2012) — A chance discovery of 80-year-old photo plates in a Danish basement is providing new insight into how Greenland glaciers are melting today.

Researchers at the National Survey and Cadastre of Denmark -- that country's federal agency responsible for surveys and mapping -- had been storing the glass plates since explorer Knud Rasmussen's expedition to the southeast coast of Greenland in the early 1930s.

In this week's online edition of Nature...

Gaseous emissions from dinosaurs may have warmed prehistoric Earth

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1000pa (May 7, 2012) — Sauropod dinosaurs could in principle have produced enough of the greenhouse gas methane to warm the climate many millions of years ago, at a time when Earth was warm and wet. That's according to calculations reported in the May 8th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

The hulking sauropods, distinctive for their enormous size and unusually long necks, were widespread about 150 million years ago. As in cows, methane-producing microbes aided...

New research brings satellite measurements and global climate models closer

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1000pa (May 7, 2012) — One popular climate record that shows a slower atmospheric warming trend than other studies contains a data calibration problem, and when the problem is corrected the results fall in line with other records and climate models, according to a new University of Washington study.

The finding is important because it helps confirm that models that simulate global warming agree with observations, said Stephen Po-Chedley, a UW graduate student in atmospheric...

Arabic records allow past climate to be reconstructed

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1000pa (Apr. 30, 2012) — Corals, trees and marine sediments, among others, are direct evidence of the climate of the past, but they are not the only indicators. A team led by Spanish scientists has interpreted records written in Iraq by Arabic historians for the first time and has made a chronology of climatic events from the year 816 to 1009, when cold waves and snow were normal.

The Arabic historians' records chronologically narrate social, political and religious matters, and...

New mechanism of past global warming? Thawing permafrost 50 million years ago led to global warming events

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1000pa (Apr. 4, 2012) — In a new study reported in Nature, climate scientist Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues elsewhere propose a simple new mechanism to explain the source of carbon that fed a series of extreme warming events about 55 million years ago, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), and a sequence of similar, smaller warming events afterward.

"The standard hypothesis has been that the source of carbon was in the ocean, in the...

Rising CO<sub>2</sub> levels linked to global warming during last deglaciation

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1000pa (Apr. 4, 2012) — Many scientists have long suspected that rising levels of carbon dioxide and the global warming that ended the last Ice Age were somehow linked, but establishing a clear cause-and-effect relationship between CO2 and global warming from the geologic record has remained difficult.

A new study, funded by the National Science Foundation and published in the journal Nature, identifies this relationship and provides compelling evidence that rising CO2 caused...

Rising CO2 levels linked to global warming during last deglaciation

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 Many scientists have long suspected that rising levels of carbon dioxide and the global warming that ended the last Ice Age were somehow linked, but establishing a clear cause-and-effect relationship between CO2 and global warming from the geologic record has remained difficult.

A new study, funded by the National Science Foundation and published in the journal Nature, identifies this relationship and provides compelling evidence that rising CO2 caused much of the global...

Coral links ice sheet collapse to ancient 'mega flood'

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1000pa (Apr. 3, 2012) — Coral off Tahiti has linked the collapse of massive ice sheets 14,600 years ago to a dramatic and rapid rise in global sea-levels of around 14 metres.

Previous research could not accurately date the sea-level rise but now an Aix-Marseille University-led team, including Oxford University scientists Alex Thomas and Gideon Henderson, has confirmed that the event occurred 14,650-14,310 years ago at the same time as a period of rapid climate change known as...

Precipitation impacts glacial melt, Patagonian Glacier study suggests

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1000pa (Mar. 30, 2012) — Glaciers play a vital role in Earth's climate system, and it's critical to understand what contributes to their fluctuation. Increased global temperatures are frequently viewed as the cause of glacial melt, but a new study of Patagonia's Gualas Glacier highlights the role of precipitation in the glacier's fluctuation.

The study, conducted by Sébastien Bertrand of Renard Centre of Marine Geology, Ghent University (Belgium) and Woods Hole Oceanographic...

Carbon dioxide was hidden in the ocean during last Ice Age

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1000pa (Mar. 29, 2012) — Why did the atmosphere contain so little carbon dioxide (CO2) during the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago? Why did it rise when Earth's climate became warmer? Processes in the ocean are responsible for this, says a new study based on newly developed isotope measurements.

This study has now been published in the scientific journal Science by scientists from the Universities of Bern and Grenoble and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research...

Scientists use rare mineral to correlate past climate events in Europe, Antarctica

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1000pa (Mar. 21, 2012) — The first day of spring brought record high temperatures across the northern part of the United States, while much of the Southwest was digging out from a record-breaking spring snowstorm. The weather, it seems, has gone topsy-turvy. Are the phenomena related? Are climate changes in one part of the world felt half a world away?

To understand the present, scientists look for ways to unlock information about past climate hidden in the fossil record. A team...

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Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...