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TVRG: Earth's Climate Evolution - A Geological Perspective

20 February 2019
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Event type:
Regional Group, Evening Meeting
Organised by:
Thames Valley Regional Group
AECOM, Basingstoke
Event status:

The statement that ‘the climate is always changing’ is only meaningful if we know the drivers of that change, which we can find in the geological record. Moreover, as Scottish geologist James Hutton pointed out in 1795, knowing the past will help us to predict the future if past conditions recur. What we find in the rocks will support or disprove what climate models tell us.

Scientists began speculating about climate change late in the 17th century. Subsequent scientific and technological developments have led to formulation of a coherent theory of climate change. We have come a long way from the notion that erratic blocks of rock on British hills were deposited by Noah's flood. The past 30 years have seen dramatic advances in our knowledge of the variability of past climate change and its causes, enabling us to understanding what our climate is doing now and may do next.

Much of what we know comes from examining cores of marine sediment, along with ice cores, stalactites, tree rings and corals. Over the past one million years our climate has operated within narrow envelopes governed by orbital change and solar change. Over the past 2000 years those natural changes drove us into the Little Ice Age. Present orbital and solar properties are like those of the Little Ice Age, yet temperatures have begun rising. The only driver we can find to explain that divergence, in keeping with what we know of the drivers of past change, is the rise in CO2 emissions.  One is reminded of the saying that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.

If you wish to attend this evening presentation, please can you confirm by e-mail to


Colin Summerhayes (Emeritus Associate, Scott Polar Research Institute)


AECOM, Midpoint, Alencon Link, Basingstoke RG21 7PP


18:30 for 19:00 start