Friday, April 07, 2006

Global Warming, the Sound and the Scientists Who are Studying Both

If you’re going to tomorrow’s Long Island Sound Citizens Summit conference in Bridgeport (or even if you’re not) you’ll be interested in this Hartford Courant story about Joop Varekamp and Ellen Thomas, husband-and-wife scientists who are among the main presenters at the event. Reporter David Funkhouser writes that they met in the Netherlands, in a chemistry class on the precipitation of carbonates:

Four decades later, the husband-and-wife team of scientists still study the comings and goings of carbon, and their work is shedding light on the effects of global warming on Long Island Sound….

Thomas, a paleo-oceanographer, works with foraminifera, miniscule creatures that form one of the bottom layers of the food chain. By studying the muddy sediments on the floor of the Sound, she looks back thousands of years to see what lived there, and under what conditions.

Varekamp, a geochemist and vulcanologist, also peers into the past - in Connecticut's case, to the end of the last ice age about 18,000 years ago when a receding ice sheet left behind a trough that would become Long Island Sound.

"We use information from the past to reconstruct how the environment has been changing, and then we bring it up to the modern day and compare that with the situation as it's being monitored by [other scientists]," he said.

The story also has a clear and concise summary of how global warming might be affecting the Sound. It's worth a read and it sounds as if the conference will be worth six or seven hours on a Saturday.


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