In the history of the earth major changes have taken place. At certain moments the world was warmer than it is today and during ice ages it was much colder. At this moment a lot of attention has been given to global warming by the media, NGO’s and politicians. In this ongoing debate scientists are often asked to come up with facts: When did global warming start? How much warmer is it today? How warm will it be a hundred years from now?
Scientists that try to answer these questions related to climate change are called palaeoclimatologists (‘palaios’ is Greek for ‘old’). They use information from natural climate “proxies”, such as tree rings, ice cores, corals and sediments that record variations in past climate for times prior to instrumental weather measurements. The information from these proxies can be used to estimate, for example, temperatures in the past and to make climate models.
This project is the first try to use a new proxy for temperatures in the past: stable isotopes in water beetles. You can find the main results of this study on this website. If you want, you can also get some more information about what stable isotopes are and how they can be used in water beetles to estimate past temperatures.
A pdf file with detailed information about the project can be found here as well.