Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

New Database Helps Scientists Track Climate Change Over Thousands Of Years

Spencer Platt
Getty Images
People march as they take part in a strike to demand action on the global climate crisis on September 20, 2019, in New York City.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a new database earlier this month. It’s called Nature’s Archives, and NOAA says it’s the most comprehensive temperature change database ever assembled.

Paul Roebber, a UWM distinguished professor of atmospheric science, says NOAA’s data gives context to changes climate scientists are observing.

"We know that the increases that we’re seeing now in carbon dioxide levels and temperature levels are unprecedented for hundreds of thousands of years. So that’s our way of being able to say, OK, we’re really doing something that’s really significant in terms of the climate system compared to what we’ve ever seen in the past,” Roebber says.

He says this new information from NOAA will help researchers bring more information to light. He calls it a process of self-correction.

"From the climate change perspective, what was known over the past 30 years of research is that self-correction has led unfortunately to an increasingly dire prognosis about the future of our climate because the initial projections, while certainly severe, were actually underestimates in the changes we’re already seeing and in terms of the projected change for the future,” Roebber says.

He’s a strong believer that arming people with the science behind climate change will allow them to make informed choices. A recent study from the International Institute for Applied Systems looks at the link between education and climate change.

“One of the reasons why education is important, that they pointed out, is because it shows a direct correlation to resiliency to climate change,” Roebber says. “It’s really important for us not to just mitigate or reduce our carbon emissions, but also to adapt to the changes that are actually going to occur regardless of what we do now. And less educated populations, less developed economies are more vulnerable to climate change.”

Have an environmental question you'd like WUWM's Susan Bence to investigate? Submit below.


Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.