The past is the key to the future

Climate research in the Earth Sciences focuses on learning from Earth’s history by observing the present and using this as the basis to project the future planet. By studying rock samples and biological remains found in the Earth’s crust - both on land and in the oceans - we learn that Earth’s past climate shows periods with strong varying conditions, and with sometimes catastrophic events that influenced life and the environment. Part of the work involves improving the geological time scale, so that we can determine more precisely what happened when and where and why.

Are we ready for the future?

Questions that take centre stage in our climate research are for example: how catastrophic will the current worldwide rise in temperature become? How will climate change influence our soils and sediments, our lakes, our groundwater, our oceans, etc.? Our biggest cities are in coastal areas, so how much and how quickly will the sea levels rise in the years to come? And, while looking back in the past: how and where did life begin and evolve?