Up to now, the results of climate simulations have sometimes contradicted the analysis of climate traces from the past.
Up to now, the results of climate simulations have sometimes contradicted the analysis of climate traces from the past. A team led by the physicist Thomas Laepple from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam and the climatologist Kira Rehfeld from the University of Tübingen has therefore brought together experts in climate models and climate tracks to clarify how the discrepancies come about. The surprising result has now been published in the journal Nature Geoscience: in a way, both sides are right. Climate models correctly simulate global temperature trends, but often underestimate the strength of regional climate fluctuations, especially over the course of decades to centuries.
In order to understand the causes and consequences of climate fluctuations, researchers examine climate archives, such as trees, lakes and marine sediments or even ice. Over the course of centuries and millennia, the climate has continuously varied, leaving behind traces. Understanding natural climate changes enables better assessments of what lies ahead with man-made climate change. Anticipating how humankind can prepare for the consequences of increasing global warming is of paramount importance. “We will feel the effects of climate change primarily regionally,” says physicist Prof. Dr. Thomas Laepple of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Potsdam. “In some regions, droughts will become more frequent, potentially leading to crop failures over extended periods. Elsewhere, we will witness more powerful hurricanes.”
Image: Cave minerals (speleothems) in a cave in Brazil are one of the climate archives that can be used to reconstruct past climates. (Credit: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Kira Rehfeld)