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Item #d93sep10

Three items from Nature, 364(6434), July 15, 1993 (see related account, News, this issue):

"Don't Touch That Dial," J.W.C. White (Inst. Arctic & Alpine Res., Univ. Colorado, Boulder CO 80309), 186. Discusses the significance of the following two papers. Human civilization appears to have developed during a period of unusual climatic stability; we should be leery of tinkering with the current climate system.

"Climate Instability During the Last Interglacial Period Recorded in the GRIP Ice Core," Greenland Ice-Core Project (GRIP) members, 203-207. Isotopic and chemical analyses reveal that the climate in Greenland during the interglacial period prior to the present one was characterized by a series of severe cold periods, which began extremely rapidly and lasted from decades to centuries. Since that interglacial was slightly warmer than the present one, these results raise questions about future warming from greenhouse gases.

"Evidence for General Instability of Past Climate from a 250-kyr Ice-Core Record," W. Dansgaard (Dept. Geophys., Univ. Copenhagen, Haraldsgade 6, DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark), S.J. Johnsen et al., 218 ff. A detailed stable-isotope record from GRIP shows that climatic instability on short time scales not only characterized the last glaciation, as recently reported, but also existed during the last interglacial and during the glacial cycle preceding it. The extreme stability of the Holocene may be the exception rather than the rule.

Item #d93sep11

"Extending the Vostok Ice-Core Record of Palaeoclimate to the Penultimate Glacial Period," J. Jouzel (Lab. Model. Clim. l'Environ., CEA/DSM CE Saclay, 91191, Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France), N.I. Barkov et al., Nature, 364(6436), 407-412, July 29, 1993.

The ice-core record of local temperature, dust accumulation and air composition at Vostok station, Antarctica, now extends back through two glacial periods (140-200 kyr ago) to the end of the preceding interglacial, yielding a new glaciological timescale for the whole record consistent with ocean records. Concentrations of CO2 and CH4 correlate well with temperature throughout the record.

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