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By Stager C.

ISBN-10: 0312614624

ISBN-13: 9780312614621

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Although nothing within the last million years perfectly matches today's 387 ppm CO2 context, much less the 550 to 600 ppm condition that we're considering in our moderate scenario, there is still much of value to learn from previous warmings. And this choice of a geologically recent time frame also allows us to take advantage of ice cores, the frozen archives of ancient air samples that lie buried in glaciers and continental ice sheets. The longest such records come from the two largest ice realms on the planet: Greenland and Antarctica.

Despite its different origin, the Eemian example clearly shows that even moderate heating can demolish plenty of ice; indirect but compelling signs of interglacial melting appear in stranded fossil deposits all over the world. Among the hundreds of exposed paleo reef sites that formed during the Eemian, the most reliable indicators of past sea level are those found on coasts that are geologically stable and therefore unlikely to have lifted or lowered the ancient deposits. One such site has been described in a study led by Paul Hearty, a geoscientist from the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia.

Computer models show us what can happen to climates in theoretical simulations, but geohistorical studies show what actually has happened in the past. Both approaches, the abstract and the concrete, have their strengths and limitations. Models can be constructed to simulate an infinite range of possibilities, but they may or may not be realistic. Paleo-ecological records are grounded in reality, but they can't necessarily be manipulated to answer specific questions; whatever information they happen to offer is all you get.

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Deep Future by Stager C.


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