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Images: Sunspots, Sea Changes, and Climate Shifts

WHOI paleoceanographer Konrad Hughen (left) and WHOI Research Associate Daniel Montlucon pour liquid nitrogen into sediments retrieved from the seafloor to freeze and preserve them. (Photo by Tim Eglinton, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution )

Sediments accumulate over time in layers on the seafloor, and they contain fossil shells of surface-dwelling microscopic marine animals. The shells incorporate radiocarbon and other isotopes from seawater that existed when the animals lived, and hence provide a chronological record of past ocean conditions. (Photo by Tim Eglinton, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI scientists Konrad Hughen has analyzed seafloor sediments from the Cariaco Basin off Venezuela, a unique place where a confluence of environmental conditions makes its sediments very sensitive detectors of climate changes.