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Professor uses samples from ocean floor to study climate change

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Texas weather is no joke! For any outside visitors coming into the scorching heat waves felt in the summer, believe it when we say, “We Texans can take the heat.”  For years, weather has been a topic of discussion across the world, but there’s one place here in San Antonio where climate change is being studied. SciTech Now visited the University of the Incarnate Word where we met Meteorology professor Dr. Gerald Mulvey, who teaches about climate change using samples taken from the Pacific Ocean floor.

We were unfamiliar with the fact that College Station was once at the edge of the ocean, so when Dr. Mulvey told us this fascinating fact, we were in awe. Our curiosity led us to further discussion about weather and the samples of ocean floor sitting in front of us. Leading us to his computer desk, he showed us a wealth of information, starting with a Google Earth map of where the samples came from. Traveling into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, we zoomed our way into a multitude of questions. Like what is causing climate change and how does it relate to man?

The samples taken from a sediment core of the ocean floor give insight as to what the weather was like ages ago. Inside you’ll find microscopic animals called diatoms (algae). Fossilized diatoms tell researchers about environmental conditions in past eras because of the layers that correspond to environmental cycles. Certain water conditions either preserve or kill diatoms. By understanding what the climate was years ago, we can begin to understand how fast the climate has changed throughout the eras, and what exactly is causing it.

The biggest factor affecting climate change has been man. “Climate change is mainly due to Carbon Dioxide (CO 2)… We need a reduction in that CO 2 in the atmosphere, even to just stabilize where we are, said Mulvey.“ This means, we as humans need to reduce our carbon footprint. “We have to plan for climate change… because it will take  a number of years, maybe as fast as 10 or 15 years… maybe as long as 50 or 75 years, but it will come.“ This includes the rising of the shorelines and ocean levels. Climate change requires a long time plan, as it deals with our security. It affects us in ways we never imagined, such as food production.  Farmers and other cultivators have taken notice and are developing hybrids of various foods that can survive in hotter, dryer, climates. This alone can help us preserve our Earth, our atmosphere, and stabilize climate change. Other ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to recycle, carpool, and buy local if possible.

Learn more about climate change in this episode of SciTech Now airing Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. on KLRN.

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