Oxygen gas in ice cores has shown evidence for abrupt climate change.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of Zina Deretsky/National Science Foundation
Global Warming Can Impact Monsoons and Lower Crop Production
News story originally written on June 11, 2009
Researchers from the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Oregon State University have been comparing oxygen isotopes in air that was captured in ice cores to learn more about the climate of the past. They also looked at data from ancient stalagmites found in caves.
The ice cores were gathered from different locations in Antarctica and Greenland. They contain air bubbles that were trapped as the ice formed over tens of thousands of years.
The researchers found that the climate warmed about 14,700 years ago, and there was more vegetation growth for at least 200 years. The researchers then compared these findings with data from an earlier study that determined the amount of rainfall that fell in China over many millennia by examining stalagmites in caves. They discovered that this period of low vegetation growth corresponded with a time of reduced monsoon rainfall.
This shift happened over a few decades, which is a very quick time period for climate to change. The researchers warn that observations of past climate events may not be able predict future conditions. Given the important roll that monsoon rains play in sustaining billions of people, however, this connection between climate change and monsoon patterns may be an dangerous sign of what climate change in the 21st century may bring.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
Isotopes are different "versions" of an element. All atoms of an element have the same number of protons. For example, all hydrogen atoms have one proton, all carbon atoms have 6 protons, and all uranium...more
Antarctica is unique. It is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. The land is barren and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. Antarctica is almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle...more
Frozen water is found in many different places on Earth. Snow blankets the ground at mid and high latitudes during winter. Sea ice and icebergs float in the chilly waters of polar oceans. Ice shelves fringe...more
Earth’s climate is warming. During the 20th Century Earth’s average temperature rose 0.6° Celsius (1.1°F). Scientists are finding that the change in temperature has been causing other aspects of our planet...more
Rain is precipitation that falls to the Earth in drops of 5mm or more in diameter according to the US National Weather Service. Virga is rain that evaporates before reaching the ground. Raindrops form...more
To figure out the future of climate change, scientists need tools to measure how Earth responds to change. Some of these tools are global climate models. Using models, scientists can better understand...more
Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. "The data will help give us a better road map to what a future...more