Ancient Lessons for Our Future Climate

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Science  29 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5697, pp. 821-822
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103025

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Climate models and efforts to explain global temperature changes over the past century suggest that the average global temperature will rise by between 1.5º and 4.5ºC if the atmospheric COconcentration doubles. In their Perspective, Schrag and Alley look at records of past climate change, from the last ice age to millions of years ago, to determine whether this climate sensitivity is realistic. They conclude that the climate system is very sensitive to small perturbations and that the climate sensitivity may be even higher than suggested by models.