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Methane gyrations last 2,000 years show human influnece on atmosphere

ast on a regional level, White said. During the Medieval Warm Period from about 1000 to 1270, there appears to have been a slight increase in biomass burning in Europe. In cooler periods like the Little Ice Age from roughly 1300 to 1850, biomass burning in the Northern Hemisphere appears to have decreased somewhat while anaerobic activity by bacteria in bogs and swamps probably increased, he said.

Involving the United States, New Zealand and Australia, the international project focused on ice cores from Antarctica's Law Dome, White said. "We could not have undertaken this study without all three countries," he said. "These types of projects are not cheap, and each group brought a unique line of expertise."

White said the team hopes to look at methane levels going back prior to 2,000 years ago. "The larger question is when humans began influencing the climate and nutrient system," he said. "We are in an unusually long interglacial period right now, and another interesting but unresolved question is whether humans, without forethought, have inadvertently kept Earth out of the next ice age by altering its energy budget."


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8-Sep-2005


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