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South Pacific caves may give climate clues

July 29, 2011 at 7:32 PM   |   Comments

TUSCALOOSA, Ala., July 29 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say caves on a small island in the Pacific could provide a better understanding of weather patterns occurring as far back as 10,000 years ago.

Researchers from the University of Alabama will descend into the caves of the small South Pacific island of Niue to study stalagmites they say contain a record of about 10,000 years of El Nino-driven rainfall patterns, a university release said Friday.

Geologists led by Paul Aharon will remain on the island until Aug. 5 conducting research funded by the National Science Foundation, the release said.

The scientists say the centuries of rainfall records in the stalagmites that can be revealed through laboratory analysis will provide insights into how the El Nino/La Nina patterns have historically affected climate change and how global weather patterns may change in the future.

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