Geologic studies provide a valuable perspective on the importance of greenhouse forcing for climate change. On both Pleistocene and tectonic time scales, changes in climate are positively correlated with greenhouse gas variations. However, the sensitivity of the system to greenhouse gas changes cannot yet be constrained by paleoclimate data below its present large range. Geologic records do not support one of the major predictions of greenhouse models—namely, that tropical sea surface temperatures will increase. Geologic data also suggest that winter cooling in high-latitude land areas is less than predicted by models. As the above-mentioned predictions appear to be systemic features of the present generation of climate models, some significant changes in model design may be required to reconcile models and geologic data. However, full acceptance of this conclusion requires more measurements and more systematic compilations of existing geologic data. Since progress in data collection in this area has been quite slow, uncertainties associated with these conclusions may persist for some time.

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