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Warm periods of the past

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Michelle Cain.

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Worlds that are warmer than today have a particular relevance for the future. Although no period in the past is exactly analogous to the climate of the future, they all hold lessons about the impacts of warmth, and provide test cases, outside their calibration range, for models.

The last interglacial, around 125,000 years ago, had particular warmth at the poles, and sea level considerably higher than today. It holds the advantage that it is relatively well-documented, allowing the climate dynamics affecting polar regions and ice sheets to be examined. The Pliocene, around 3 million years ago offers the most recent period where warmth is associated with CO2 levels comparable to those of today. Going back further (up to aroiund 50 million years ago) we reach more extreme warmth in conditions where Earth’s geography was different to that of today. Our speakers will discuss their fascinating findings, built on novel geochemistry and Earth system modelling, about the causes and consequences of warmth in these periods. We will finish with a panel discussion about how these results inform us about what to expect and what to avoid in the future.

14.00 Introductions

14.05-14.40 Gavin Foster (University of Southampton)

14.40-15.15 Erin McClymont (Durham University) Living in a 400 ppmv CO2 world – lessons we might learn from the Pliocene epoch

15.15-15.40 Tea

15.40-16.15 Emilie Capron (Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark) Back to the future? Climate clues from the Last Interglacial

16.15-16.50 Dan Lunt (University of Bristol) Climate and climate sensitivity from past warm periods – what do the models tell us?

16.50-17.30 Panel discussion about implications for future.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Science series.

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