Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have overcome a seeming weakness of global climate models. They had previously not been able to simulate the extreme warm period of the Eocene. One aspect of this era that particularly draws interests to climatologists: It was the only phase in recent history when greenhouse gas concentration was as high as researchers predict it to be for the future. The AWI scientists have now found that the apparent model weakness is due to a misinterpretation of the temperature indicator TEX86. These molecules, which are produced by archaea do not record the surface temperature of the ancient ocean as expected, but rather the temperature of water depths up to 500 metres. In the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, the scientists report on this new finding which has now made it possible to correctly simulate the temperature distribution of the Eocene in climate models.

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