The field evidence for past variations in the Earth’s
climate and landscapes has been used by scientists for predicting future
climate change. So-called climate archives (e.g. lakes, soils) “collect”
data often continuously over long periods of time and provide ideal records
of past climate conditions. Therefore, investigations of climate archives,
preferably with a high time resolution, in different areas of the world
show global and regional differences in previous environmental conditions.
Regional field evidence enabled also the development of advanced computer
models of global and regional climate change, in which past changes in
atmospheric and oceanic circulation have been simulated. For example,
studies of Antarctic ice cores provided crucial information for the models
on long-term variations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane, hence
providing information about the modern global warming.
Overall, terrestrial as well as marine archives
are of great value in the study of climate and its vulnerability to sudden
changes and to establish future climate scenarios. In order to investigate
climate archives, a huge set of methods is available. Most methods are
suitable for different archives and mostly, several methods are applied
in one archive in order to reconstruct climate and previous landscapes.
In the lesson Quaternary paleoenvironments - archives
and methods, a small selection of widely used methods and terrestrial
archives is given.