12 Jul 2017

Huge new climate database charts 2000 years of temperatures

8:41 pm on 12 July 2017

A New Zealand scientist has helped build a massive database that will shed light on global temperature changes over the past two millenia.

Smoke pollution

A New Zealand Professor said the database was the most comprehensive collection of its kind. Photo: 123rf

The PAGES2k information was released in the Nature journal's open-source database by a large team of international scientists.

The information comes from a range of sources including tree rings, corals and glacier ice.

GNS Science and Victoria University researcher Nancy Bertler provided data from the Ross Sea region, which she said was a particularly climate-sensitive area in the Antarctic.

She said she now has access to a playground of high-quality information she could not previously use.

"Now other people can use this data without having to have full inside knowledge of the intricacies of that particular record.

"So I can now access the data and use tree rings or marine sediment records without being the specialist in that."

Associate Professor Bertler said the database was the most comprehensive collection of its kind and went back to the start of the Common Era (1 AD).

"During that time period we also see some already significant natural climate variability," she said.

"We're going beyond the time period where humans have affected the climate (the last 150-200 years). We get a really good view of what normal climate situations look like."

The database would be used by policy makers around the world.

Professor Bertler said it would also be included in analysis from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

"These models are really critical to prepare our policymakers and communities to adapt to changes.

"But it also provides a very important tool for policy makers to think about mitigation. How much they think it would be worthwhile to push for reduced CO2 emissions for example."