"What we saw was something that looked very different. It wasn't just a muted version of the Chinese stalagmites," Cobb added.
Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist and modeler at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said this sort of research is useful for modelers, who can take these results and see whether they show up when they run their models.
If they do, researchers know the models are accurately replicating how climatic shifts in one region of the Earth affect other parts of the globe.
"They're putting out stuff that says, OK, look, these are really good targets for you to test your models against," he said. "Somebody like me sees something like this and we say, oh, I wonder if we did that [in a model], how well would we do?"
As it turns out, Schmidt is already halfway there. In 2011, he co-authored a paper in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters in which he modeled how the Heinrich events might have affected stalagmite formation in the tropical western Pacific.
Over the phone, he eyeballed his results with what Carolin and Cobb came up with in their recent paper.
"Now, the moment of truth," he said, looking at his figure.
What he saw was impressive. The results from the Carolin paper, with real data from real stalagmites, are almost "exactly what the model predicted in 2011," he said.
"How great is that?" Schmidt asked.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500