TED Talk: Ancient Climate Mysteries Unveiled By Ice and Corals

ice sheet on water photo

Photo via christine zenino (chrissy575) via Fickr Creative Commons

How much of the mystery of past climates can be revealed by prehistoric ice? Rob Dunbar, an expert at reading the sagas told by ancient corals and sediments, is studying the ice of the Antarctic to find out how our climate has changed over the past 12,000 years. His work contributes to how we decide the maximum amounts of greenhouse gasses our atmosphere and earth systems can handle, and what we need to dip down to to stabilize the planet. In a powerful TED talk, Dunbar discusses how of all the problems we face with CO2, it's ocean acidification that scares him the most. But check out what sediment samples taken from the floor of the Antarctic ocean and centuries-old corals reveal about the ebb and flow of global temperatures.

Using evidence from sediments and corals reveals what is natural and what isn't about past and current temperature changes. It's incredible -- and startling -- to learn how today's temperatures and earth system chemistries vary from those of decades, centuries, and eons ago.

Dunbar is also a very talented nature photographer -- check out his awesome photographs of arctic animals.

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