Academic journal article The Science Teacher

New Climate Record

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

New Climate Record

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A stalagmite in a West Virginia cave has yielded the most detailed geological record to date on climate cycles in eastern North America over the past 7,000 years. The new study confirms that during periods when Earth received less solar radiation, the Atlantic Ocean cooled, icebergs increased, and precipitation fell, creating a series of centurylong droughts.

A research team led by Ohio University geologist Gregory Springer examined the trace metal strontium and carbon and oxygen isotopes in the stalagmite, which preserved climate conditions averaged over periods as brief as a few years. The scientists found evidence of at least seven major drought periods during the Holocene era. "This really nails down the idea of solar influence on continental drought," says Springer, an assistant professor of geological sciences. The findings are published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Geologist Gerald Bond suggested that every 1,500 years, weak solar activity caused by fluctuations in the Sun's magnetic fields cools the north Atlantic Ocean and creates more icebergs and ice rafting, or the movement of sediment to ocean floors. …

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