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Climate Researchers Seek Global Warming Clues in the Arctic's Svalbard Archipelago [Slide Show]

Rocks on a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean may offer fresh insights into previous worldwide climate change episodes

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CLAY CORES:

This is what the drill core segments look like inside those boxes. They are composed almost entirely of mud and clay laid down in an ocean basin millions of years ago. Kump's analyses have revealed that the PETM climate change was not nearly as rapid as the human-caused changes unfolding today.....[ More ]

A STROKE OF LUCK:

It turned out that a Norwegian mining company had cored, years earlier, through sediment layers covering the PETM episode. Kump and the other scientists were led to a large metal shed on the outskirts of Longyearbyen, the largest settlement on Spitsbergen, where the core is now housed, since cut into long cylinders stored in hundreds of flat, wooden boxes.....[ More ]

AT LAST:

Somewhere within the modest embankment of ancient mud and clay along this stream resides a previously undiscovered record of the PETM climate fever.....[ More ]

NOT FAR TO GO:

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FOLLOW THE EXPERT:

Kump [left] gets directions from Jenö Nagy, the group's expert on the local geology. A professor at the University of Oslo in Norway, Nagy led Kump and others to the PETM outcrops.....[ More ]

SANTA'S REALM:

Reindeer were among the more innocuous wildlife the team encountered on Spitsbergen.....[ More ]

GO AWAY, BEAR!:

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SNOW OR FERNS?:

Getting to the rocky outcrops that might entomb clues about the PETM meant a rugged, two-hour hike from the former coal-mining village of Longyearbyen. As Kump [right] observed slippery pockets of snow and stunted plants, he says he imagined a time when palm trees, ferns and alligators probably inhabited this area.....[ More ]

GROUP EFFORT:

Lee R. Kump, a geoscientist at The Pennsylvania State University, met up in Spitsbergen with a group of researchers from the U.S., England, Norway and the Netherlands. These 18 scientists, working together under the auspices of the Worldwide Universities Network, had reason to believe that rocks from this part of the Arctic could provide the most complete record of the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) yet discovered.....[ More ]

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