Study of Fossil Shells in Belgium Indicates Warmer Summers in Europe

fossil shellsClimate researchers led by Earth scientist Niels de Winter, concluded from their study of fossil shells that a warmer climate has been causing summer to warm faster than winter in Europe. According to de Winters, the knowledge will enable them to better map the outcomes of the existing global warming in the North Sea area.

What Exactly did the Researchers Establish from Their Study of the Fossil Shells

The fossil shells studied by the researchers originally came from scallops, oysters, cockles and other molluscs that formed part of the construction of the Kieldrecht Lock during the Pliocene Age. The lock is the small waterway in the left-bank docks of the Antwerp Port in Belgium.

The mollusc studied by the researchers had actually existed in the North Sea around 3 million years ago. The accumulation of shells grew layer by layer, which the researchers described as similar to tree rings.

shell beach sandBased on the fossil shell formation, researchers were able to gather information stored in the shells during the lifetime of the molluscs. They analyzed the shells by conducting a ‘clumped isotope analysis’ approach, which enabled them to perform a more detailed analysis of the composition of the fossil shells. The study involved measuring the extent of the oxygen and carbon found in rare and heavy isotopes of the shells.

According to the report published by the researchers, their analysis of the carbonate content indicated how summers in the North Area had heated up much faster than it had during the winter season.

They established that winters during the Pliocene Age had warm temperatures of 2.5 degrees, while summers were warmer at about 4.3 degrees. The findings give a glimpse of the climate that people in Europe will face if the current trend continues. De Winter explained the difference in temperature between winter and summer indicates increased chances of more heat waves occurring during summers.