A virtually unbroken record of climate change has been found in an 80m thick layer of sediment in Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan. It's likely to be an incredibly important discovery that will help us better understand past and present climate patterns.
The discovery provides a “missing link” for understanding how earth, air and water have interacted over the last five million years.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, took a series of samples from alternating layers of dust and soil in the canyon. They will analyse these samples to work out how much moisture there was in the earth over the epochs.
“Over the past five million years, the land surfaces of Eurasia appear to have more actively contributed to the land-atmosphere-ocean water-cycle than previously acknowledged,” says paleo researcher Charlotte Prud'homme.
Currently, most of the research on how Earth’s weather systems have changed focuses on oceans, lakes, and ice caps. This is one of the first opportunities scientists have to thoroughly investigate how climate has evolved in a landlocked region like Central Asia, and what role these weather systems have on the global climate.
The researchers are focusing most of their investigation on the epochs which took place between five to 2.6 million years ago - the last time concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were comparable to what they are now.
It's therefore likely to be an incredibly valuable discovery that will make the task of understanding the formation of past and present climate patterns easier and will give us more confidence in forecasting what the future holds as well.