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Timeline: Ice memory

Some of scientists’ gravest concerns about future climate change are rooted in the past. Records studied by paleoclimatologists reveal that the more extreme possibilities for this century and beyond — temperatures soaring, ice sheets vanishing, fertile lands withering into deserts — were realized previously on Earth when atmospheric greenhouse gas levels surged. At this summer’s AGU Chapman Conference on Abrupt Climate Change, researchers described this turbulent history through all manner of proxies – ice, tree rings, corals, marine and lake sediments, among others. But few talks went without a slide showing the wiggly line of a deep ice core. 

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