Focusing on two glacial-to-interglacial transitions
Looy and her team also will look at an even earlier transition from a glaciated Earth 130,000 years ago to a time 113,000 years ago when it may have been locally warmer than today. Learning what the area looked like during that time will help Northern Californians anticipate how conditions will change as global temperature continues to rise over the coming decades.
"There are indications from ice cores and ocean drilling cores that the beginning of the previous interglacial may have been warmer than it is now, which is where it becomes interesting," said Looy. "We know what the Earth is like at today's temperature, but a lot of people are trying to predict what will happen if the earth warms 1 or 2 degrees Celsius (2-4 degrees Fahrenheit), or even more."
Charcoal in the lake sediments will also tell the researchers how Native Americans altered the environment through deliberate fires designed, for example, to increase acorn production by oaks.
One member of the team, Anthony Barnosky, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, will correlate this information with mammalian fossils collected from cave deposits in the area and that have been stored for decades in the Museum of Paleontology.
"You can view the core as a time machine by which we can define a continuous record of change, both climatic and vegetational, thou
|Contact: Robert Sanders|
University of California - Berkeley