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Abrupt Climate Change


Extinction of Neanderthals Was Not a Climate Disaster Scenario

For the past few decades, scientists have offered several competing theories for what led to the extinction of the Neanderthals, with much of the debate focusing on the relative roles of climate change versus conflict with modern humans. Now one theory can be ruled out. New research by a multidisciplinary, international team?including paleoclimatologist Konrad Hughen of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution?shows that Neanderthals did not die out at a time of extreme and sudden climatic change, as some researchers have suggested.

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The Ocean Conveyor

ocean conveyor

A global system of currents, often called the Ocean Conveyor, carries warm surface waters from the tropics northward. At high…

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Fresher Ocean, Cooler Climate

Fresher Ocean, Cooler Climate

Large and climatically sensitive regions of the North Atlantic Ocean have become less salty since the late 1960s, a trend that could alter global ocean circulation and spur climate changes by the 21st century.

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Joyce, Evans Give Testimony on Oceans to Congress

Joyce, Evans Give Testimony on Oceans to Congress

WHOI scientists Rob Evans and Terry Joyce testified June 8 before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans, chaired by Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) in a continuing effort to help educate the U.S. House of Representatives on the oceans.

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Abrupt Climate Change Brought to Public Attention in Hollywood Movie

The movie The Day After Tomorrow, released today by 20th Century Fox, paints a dramatic picture of the effects of climate change – and raises questions about the boundary between science and science fiction. How fast can Earth’s climate change? Will global warming raise sea level and flood coastal cities? If our climate cools, will it spawn an “ice age” in our lifetimes?

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New Study Reports Large-scale Salinity Changes in the Oceans

Tropical ocean waters have become dramatically saltier over the past 40 years, while oceans closer to Earth’s poles have become fresher, scientists reported today in the journal Nature. Earth’s warming surface may be intensifying evaporation over oceans in the low latitudes–raising salinity concentrations there–and transporting more fresh water vapor via the atmosphere toward Earth’s poles.

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Fossil Records Show Methane in Seafloor Sediments Released During Periods of Rapid Climate Warming

Scientists have found new evidence indicating that during periods of rapid climate warming methane gas has been released periodically from the seafloor in intense eruptions. In a study published in the current issue of the journal Science, Kai-Uwe Hinrichs and colleagues Laura Hmelo and Sean Sylva of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) provide a direct link between methane reservoirs in coastal marine sediments and the global carbon cycle, an indicator of global warming and cooling.

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Sedimentary Record Yields Several Centuries of Data

Sedimentary Record Yields Several Centuries of Data

Natural climate changes like the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period are of interest for a few reasons. First, they occur on decade to century time scales, a gray zone in the spectrum of climate change. Accurate instrumental data do not extend back far enough to document the beginning of these events, and historical data are often of questionable accuracy and are not widespread geographically.

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