Sunday, January 31, 2021

Earth used to be cooler than we thought, which changes our math on global warming

Earth was cooler than we thought 6,000 years ago.Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

A long-standing mystery about the Holocene has a potential solution.

The last 12,000 years have been much cooler than previously thought, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature. And in contrast, human-caused warming of the atmosphere is even more anomalous than we’d realized. That’s because the study’s authors have found a new way to estimate historical temperatures which they say filters out seasonal shifts that had made past millennia seem warmer than they really were.

The findings offer a possible solution to an outstanding riddle about the recent history of climate change. The problem, called the Holocene warming conundrum, is that previous reconstructions of the historical climate showed a warm period from 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, followed by a period of cooling. Climate models of the same period, however, suggest that the planet would have been warming steadily.

By fine-tuning how we interpret the physical evidence of the changing climate, explains Samantha Bova, a paleoclimate researcher at Rutgers University and one of the study authors, “[the data] do show a warming that’s highly consistent with what is predicted by climate models.”

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