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Unformatted text preview: y further back in time requires us to use proxy records.
Over long periods of time, substances whose physical and chemical properties change with the ambient climate at the time can be deposited in a systematic way to provide a continuous record of changes in those properties overtime, sometimes for hundreds or thousands of years. Generally, the layering occurs on an annual basis, hence the observed changes in the records can be dated. Information on temperature, rainfall, and other aspects of the climate that can be inferred from the systematic changes in properties is usually referred to as proxy data. Proxy temperature records have been reconstructed from ice core drilled out of the central Greenland ice cap, calcite shells embedded in layered lake sediments in Western Europe, ocean floor sediment cores from the tropical Atlantic Ocean, ice cores from Peruvian glaciers, and ice cores from eastern Antarctica. While these records provide broadly consistent indications that temperature variations can occur on a global scale, there are nonetheless some intriguing differences, which suggest that the pattern of temperature variations in regional climates can also differ significantly from each other.
What the proxy records make abundantly clear is that there have been significant natural changes in the climate over timescales longer than a few thousand years. Equally striking, however, is the relative stability of the climate in the past 10.000 years (the Holocene period).
To the extent that the coverage of the global climate from these records can provide a measure of its true variability, it should at least indicate how all the natural causes of climate change have combined. These include the chaotic fluctuations of the atmosphere, the slower but equally erratic behavior of the oceans, changes in the land surfaces, and the extent of ice and snow. Also included will be any variations that have arisen from volcanic activity, solar activity, and, possibly, human activities.
One way to estimate how all the various processes leading to climate variability will combine is by using computer models of the global climate. They can do only so much to represent the full complexity of the global climate and hence may give only limited information about natural variability. Studies suggest that t o date the variability in computer simulations is considerably smaller than in data obtained from the proxy records.
In addition to the internal variability of the global climate system itself, there is the added factor of external influences, such as volcanoes and solar activity .There is a growing body of opinion that both these physical variations have a measurable impact on the climate. Thus we need to be able to include these in our deliberations. 312
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Some current analyses conclude that volcanoes and solar activity explain quite a considerable amount of the observed variability in the period from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century’s, but...
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This note was uploaded on 09/17/2013 for the course LANGUAGE 13DL208 taught by Professor Wang during the Fall '13 term at East China Normal University.
- Fall '13