Monday, June 18, 2012

Our future climate still remains a mystery

The science has generally acknowledged the ongoing climate change phenomenon, and what scientists mostly do these days is trying to predict how our future climate will look like. Given the large number of variables (many of which are yet to be fully understood) that affect our climate it is practically impossible to accurately predict future weather and climate patterns.

Because of this many scientists have turned to studying Earth's past. They believe that the best answers about future climate change can be obtained by studying similar climate conditions in Earth's past.

This „blast to the past“ in search of answers usually refers to the Eemian warm period, which began around 125,000 years ago, when average temperatures on Earth were likely several degrees higher than today.

This period was also said to be characterized by large parts of the Greenland ice being melted, and global sea level being higher than today, something that is widely expected to occur in not so distant future from now, given the constant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Though this method gives plenty of material that can be compared to draw some important conclusions it is far from being perfect, as it can also lead to some very important differences.

The EU scientists have discovered that the Eemian warm period differed from the present day conditions in one important aspect - the development in the Arctic Ocean.

Since Arctic's sea ice is continuously melting in today's conditions the logical thing to assume would be that Arctic was ice free in the Eemian period but this wasn't the case.

Dr Bauch at the Academy of the Sciences and the Literature Mainz warned climate change scientists by saying that "obviously, some decisive processes in the Eemian ran off differently, like the transfer of ocean warmth towards the Arctic. Models should take this into consideration if they want to forecast the future climate development on the basis of past analogues like the Eemian."