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Climate change - Learning from the past climate

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Past climates reveal the future

A team of top EU and international scientists collected data from around the world to gain a clearer picture of possible future climate changes.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

The PAST4FUTURE (Climate change - Learning from the past climate) project was a multidisciplinary initiative involving 23 EU and international partners. Consortium members investigated climate change using palaeoenvironmental data from ice cores, marine sediments, cave deposits, and coral and pollen records. Researchers reconstructed climate change during the present and second-to-last interglacial periods, known as the Holocene and the Eemian, respectively. An interglacial is a mild period between ice ages and is associated with melting ice and changes in vegetation. Therefore, PAST4FUTURE helped scientists to gain better understanding of the processes involved. Knowledge of the previous interglacial is important because for thousands of years the Arctic and Antarctic experienced temperatures similar to those projected for the year 2100. The study of detailed data from past warm periods enabled researchers to predict more accurately possible changes to ocean currents, sea level, sea ice and weather patterns, and their impact on the environment and humanity. Data collated by the consortium has helped to reduce the level of uncertainty when predicting future global and regional climate change. Results have significantly strengthened the understanding and quantification of climate dynamics and feedback processes occurring during interglacials. This will be used to improve computer models in order to achieve a greater understanding of the physical and biogeochemical processes involved in the dynamics of interglacial climates. PAST4FUTURE brought together over 450 data sets from various archives and different geographical regions, with many data sets being of unmatched high resolution. The geographical distribution of the data sets and the excellent time resolution enabled the use of data sets and models over a longer time period than ever before and involving a much wider range of conditions. Project results will be disseminated to both governmental and non-governmental organisations and thereby inform the international debate regarding the climate change threat. In addition, the activities conducted by PAST4FUTURE are helping to train the next generation of climate scientists.

Keywords

Past climates, climate change, palaeoenvironmental, interglacial, Holocene, Eemian

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