Research CommentariesClimate

Warmer and Wetter 6000 Years Ago?

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Science  13 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5353, pp. 1003-1004
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5353.1003

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Measurement of past climate by looking at oxygen isotope ratios in marine material is a potentially powerful but problematic technique. Such an oxygen isotope "thermometer" is subject to variability because of changes in ocean salinity and the inherent isotope ratios of seawater. In his research commentary, Beck discusses results reported in the same issue by Gagan et al . in which a strontium/calcium isotope measurement was combined with an oxygen-18/oxygen-16 ratio measurement to better define and calibrate the paleoclimate determination. This double-tracer technique promises to offer important clues about the dynamics of the coupled ocean-atmosphere-climate system.