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November 29 2012

Cave clue to 13,000 winters

Over 13,000 years ago a stalagmite began to grow in a cave in Oregon.

Each winter rainwater from the land above made its way through the cave's ceiling and dripped onto the floor. As each layer of the stalagmite formed, oxygen and carbon isotopes within these raindrops were captured and preserved inside the rock.

Now, thousands of years later, a team led by Oxford University scientists is using the data locked inside this stalagmite to get a glimpse of the ancient winter climate of Western North America.

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