Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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Saturday, 16 July 2011

DRAMATIC CLIMATE SWINGS LIKELY AS WORLD WARMS

Using research into the ancients behaviour of El Niño, scientists at Oxford and Leeds Universities predict that the dramatic climate swings behind both last year's Pakistan flooding and this year's Queensland floods in Australia are likely to continue as the world gets warmer.

They have discovered that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the sloshing of the warmest waters on the planet from the West Pacific towards the East Pacific every 2-7 years, continued during Earth's last great warm period, the Pliocene

The Pliocene (which lasted from 5 to 3 million years ago) had carbon dioxide levels similar to the present day, with global mean temperatures about 2-3ºC higher, so it is a useful test-ground for climate research. Ancient temperatures are derived from analysis of the chemical composition of the shells of small organisms, known as foraminifera, in ocean-floor sediments.

Full story on ScienceDaily.