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Ecologists Use Oceanographic Data to Predict Future Climate Change - Windows to the Universe

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Ecologists and oceanographers are attempting to predict future climate based on that of the past.
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Image Courtesy of Chuck Greene, Cornell

Ecologists Use Oceanographic Data to Predict Future Climate Change
News story originally written on November 7, 2008

Scientists have been looking at the climates of the past in the Arctic region, and they think this information can help predict what might happen with the Earth's climate in the future.

The scientists looked at the patterns of climate change in the Arctic over the last 65 million years. In that time, the Earth has undergone different periods of warming and cooling. When the Earth warms, sea ice in the Arctic gets smaller; when the Earth cools, Arctic sea ice expands.

After studying the ocean currents of the Arctic Ocean and the Northern Atlantic Ocean, the scientists have learned that ocean circulation changes when the Earth's climate is warmer or cooler. Dr Charles Greene, the lead scientist of this study, explains that when the climate changes and gets warmer in Arctic, waters in the Arctic Ocean send freshwater that has melted south to the North Atlantic Ocean. Once these waters flow to the south, they change the ocean circulation patterns and change the temperature of the water. These changes impact what life can live in different parts of the worlds oceans and affects the Earth's climate, possibly making the climate cool due to the changes in ocean circulation.

Last modified December 10, 2008 by Becca Hatheway.

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