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Physical sciences/Earth sciences/Geology/Geological events/Glaciation

A new series of radiocarbon measurements from Japan’s Lake Suigetsu should help make radiocarbon dating more precise and accurate, especially for older objects, researchers report.

The work could be used to refine estimates of the ages of organic material by hundreds of years. Archaeologists, for example, may be able to further specify the timing of the extinction of Neandertals or the spread of modern humans into Europe. And climate scientists may better understand the chains of events that led to the advance and retreat of the ice sheets during the last glacial period.

Earth’s climate will warm in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide compared to pre-industrial levels, but this increase may be slightly smaller than previous studies have estimated, researchers say.

This amount of warming, which refers specifically to global average surface air temperature, is called Earth’s climate sensitivity. Researchers need a better handle on this number in order to better assess the impacts of future climate change.