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One of the limits of climatology is that we only have about a hundred years of scientifically gathered weather data, and we know that they don’t give us the full story. Paleoclimatologists find ways to figure out what the weather was like before we had thermometers, rain gauges, and written records. The natural world has recorded its own stories in tree rings, lake sediments, ice, cave deposits, and fossils, and paleoclimatologists can put that information together to assemble thousands of years of climate history.

The findings of paleoclimatology show that past droughts have been more severe and have lasted even longer than the Dust Bowl in the 1930s or drought in the 1950s – by centuries, in some cases. Paleoclimatology helps us understand the full range of natural variability.