FSU Grad Student Studies Ancient Weather Patterns

By: Nate Harrington Email
By: Nate Harrington Email

Tallahassee, FL -- February 9, 2012 --

Oceanography graduate student Darrel Tremaine never thought his research of ancient weather patterns would lead him here...to the caves of Northwest Florida.

He's using stalagmites that have grown in these caves to determine what the weather was like millenia ago.

Darrel Tremaine says, "Pretty amazing. When you go into a cave, you take a look around and you realize this cave's maybe been here, a million years. And the formations, we have them dated back to 25,000 years, when the Earth was last glaciated."

It's kind of like the rings on a tree..a cross-section of underground stalagmite can tell Tremaine tons of information about the weather above ground thousands of years ago, like how much rain fell and what temperatures were like.

"The variations in the oxygen and carbon inside the stalagmites tell you a story about the micro climate, what's going on inside the cave and outside the cave.

The ultimate goal of his research is chart these ancient weather patterns and provide base information for long-term climate forecasts.

"Gather as much information as we can to inform these global climate models that are going on so we can predict, if atmospheric CO2 is going up, what are the temperatures on Earth going to look like, what is sea-level going to do. And the way we do that is by looking backwards in time."

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