Energy & Sustainability See Inside A Shifting Band of Rain By mapping equatorial rainfall since A.D. 800, scientists have figured out how tropical weather may change through 2100 By Julian P. Sachs and Conor L. Myhrvold Courtesy of NOAA-NASA GOES Project The first indication that our expedition was not going as planned was the abrupt sputter and stop of the boat’s inboard engine at 2 a.m. The sound of silence had never been less peaceful. Suddenly, crossing the open ocean in a small fishing vessel from the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific Ocean seemed an unwise choice. A journey to a scientific frontier had led us to a different frontier altogether, a vast darkness punctuated by the occasional lapping wave. We are climate scientists, and our voyage (which ended safely) was one of many intended to help us do what at first glance seems impossible: reconstruct rainfall history back in time, across an ocean. By tracing that history, we can gain a better understanding of how the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, rising air temperatures and changes in tropical precipitation are likely to alter future climate patterns. We have traveled far and wide to numerous islands across the Pacific Ocean. This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Buy Digital Issue Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2013 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.