Ancient sea slugs could hold clues to climate change

file000530038358A new study from the University of Michigan says that the shells of 125-thousand year old sea slugs could hold a glimpse into future impacts of climate change.

Researchers examined the shells of slugs to determine water temperatures some 125 thousand years ago during what’s called the interglacial period.

That was a brief time of warming between two glacial periods, which scientists say closely resembles our current climate.

Ian Winklestern is the lead author on the study. He said they found that the warming trend of the period ended up releasing fresh water from the melting Greenland ice shelf and brought temperatures in Bermuda down 18 degrees.

“For Bermuda specifically you’re talking about no coral reefs could survive that, dramatic changes to that area’s weather. We found summer temperatures there that were colder than winter temperatures are today.”

Winklestern said the dramatic shifts in climate shut down the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which cycles warm water from the tropics into the North Atlantic.

He said this could be a sign of what’s to come as the Greenland Ice Sheet now continues to melt.