Most comprehensive database on past global changes is online


Climate scientists will now be able to more accurately study the pattern and causes of global surface temperature changes than was previously possible, thanks to a large international team of scientists contributing to PAGES (Past Global Changes), one of the University of Bern’s affiliated climate organizations.

Our knowledge of global temperatures before routine weather measurements relies on so-called “proxy” data – biological and geological sources that provide indirect information on past temperatures. Tree rings, for example, tend to grow thicker in warmer years, allowing indirect estimates of temperature change during the life of the tree. The PAGES2k database includes proxy data from a number of distinct sources including tree rings, corals, glacier ice, and marine and lake sediments as well as historic documents. This vital tool for climate reconstructions and climate modeling has now been published online in the Nature journal Scientific Data. It represents the most transparent, complete and fully described release of the PAGES2k dataset to date, providing an important resource for climate researchers interested in how the climate has changed from 1 AD to the present.

Past Global Changes (PAGES) is an international climate change research organization with its head office at the University of Bern. The PAGES2k database is the product of a community-wide effort of climate experts, coordinated by PAGES. The database gathers 692 records from 648 locations, with data sources covering all continents and oceans. Data were selected and vetted in a collaborative manner by members of the PAGES2k consortium, according to a consistent and transparent set of criteria. They are releasing the final database as ‘open data’, allowing anyone to download and use the data, which is provided in a standardized format with supporting code, ensuring the data is accessible to specialists and citizen-scientists alike.

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