13 Jul 2007

Midges shed new light on climate change

Fossilised midges have helped scientists identify two episodes of abrupt climate change that suggest the UK climate is not as stable as previously thought. Open University scientist Dr Peter van Calsteren was part of a research team that discovered where climate shifts occurred and the temperature of the atmosphere at the time.

Evidence suggests that these shifts (the first around 9,000 years ago and the second around 8,000 years ago) were due to changes in the Gulf Stream, which normally keeps the UK climate warm and wet.

Each shift saw the average summer temperature in the North West fall by an average of 1.6 degrees - approximately three times the amount of temperature change currently attributed to global warming. The detection of these events will allow experts to understand more clearly what can happen when the climate system is disturbed.

The study, led by Liverpool University in collaboration with The Open University; University of Swansea; University of Exeter; Edge Hill University and University College London, was published in Geology.

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