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A new paleothemometer to reconstruct and understand climate change

Analysing geologic temperature change using a new isotope-based thermometer provides important clues about climate change
A new paleothemometer to reconstruct and understand climate change
Scientists suggest that abrupt changes in the geological record, such as the termination of ice ages, occur when the climate system exceeds critical tipping points. Reconstructions of these temperature changes can test climate model simulations and improve climate scientists’ understanding of tipping points in the modern climate.

This was the goal of the EU-funded CLIMBP (Into the icehouse - ocean temperatures from clumped isotopes in benthic and planktic foraminifera across the Eocene-Oligocene climate transition) initiative. Specifically, the project investigated past climate transitions by using a new and powerful paleo-thermometer – carbonate clumped isotopes on foraminifera.

Within CLIMBP a new correction scheme for the clumped isotope thermometer was developed which allows to accurately measure past temperature changes based on relatively small samples. The researchers also calibrated the ‘carbonate clumped isotope thermometer’ for different calcites, biogenic and synthetic origins.

These newly-developed methods, corrections and calibrations were then applied in a range of different paleoclimate case studies.

This research is important as sudden temperature shifts in the past can be compared to modern anthropogenically driven climate change. CLIMBP not only provides an important basis for ongoing and future applications to paleoclimate research, but also influences hydrocarbon reservoir and geothermal energy resources research.

Related information


Tipping points, clumped isotopes, climate change, paleoclimate studies
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