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Ancient clams yield new information about greenhouse effect on climate

Cross-section of an ancient clam that shows the annual growth rings. - See more at: http://asnews.syr.edu

Cross-section of an ancient clam that shows the annual growth rings. - See more at: http://asnews.syr.edu

August 16, 2011

Data calls into question contemporary theories

Ancient fossilized clams that lived off the coast of Antarctica some 50 million years ago have a story to tell about El Niño, according to Syracuse University researcher Linda Ivany. Their story calls into question contemporary theories that predict global warming could result in a permanent El Niño state of affairs.
“The clams lived during the early Eocene, a period of time when the planet was as warm as it’s been over the last 65 million years,” says Ivany, a researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We used growth rings in their shells to analyze changes in year-to-year growth rate, and linked that to changes in climate that are characteristic of El Niño today.”