Calibrating the Isotopic Paleothermometer

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Science  29 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5441, pp. 910-911
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.910

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From the study of tiny bubbles of air trapped in ice, geoscientists hope to unravel the history of Earth's atmospheric composition. In particular, as discussed in the Perspective by Jouzel, researchers want to understand how temperatures have changed over time and what role human activity plays in these changes. Jouzel comments on results published in the same issue by Severinghaus et al. and Lang et al. , in which the authors establish that isotopic analysis of trapped air can provide quantitative information about abrupt climate change. With the data in hand, researchers should be able to learn more about the mechanisms that cause such rapid changes.