Taking the Temperature of Past Ocean Surfaces

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Science  08 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5485, pp. 1698-1699
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5485.1698

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Accurate reconstructions of past climatic conditions on Earth are important for modeling future climate change. Researchers use climate "proxies" from deep-sea sediments, corals, or ice cores to reconstruct these past climatic conditions, but as Nürnberg explains in this Perspective, different techniques often give different answers. A relatively new technique, Mg/Ca paleothermometry, is a particularly promising tool, especially in conjunction with oxygen isotope measurements on the same planktonic foraminiferal specimens. The power of this method is exemplified by the study by Lea et al.