Fla. caves yielding ancient climate clues

Dec. 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Stalagmites in a limestone cave in northwest Florida are revealing clues to ancient weather patterns, says a scientist conducting a climate research project.

Darrel Tremaine of Florida State University said his goal in studying the natural formations on the floor of limestone caves formed by dripping water containing calcium carbonate is to compare ancient meteorological patterns with modern ones in the northern Gulf of Mexico region, an FSU release said Monday.

"By looking at trace elements [in the stalagmites] we can get an idea of very wet and very dry rainfall patterns and cycles," Tremaine said. "We'll better understand severe weather patterns."

The research team said it hopes to eventually create an analysis of monthly weather patterns stretching back over thousands of years as part of the three-year project.

"This is important because a record of past climate in our region would help to predict what's to come in response to human disturbances of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations," said FSU oceanography professor Jeff Chaton, who has worked with Tremaine.

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