By William James Burroughs

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4 D O T H E D A T A R E L A T E T O H U M A N E X P E R I E N C E ? 35 northerly latitudes from the last glaciation. Most pollens (from flowering trees and plants) and spores (principally ferns and mosses) are tiny. 1 mm) in diameter and the majority are around 30 mm. They have a waxy coat that protects them from decay. The size and shape of this outer wall, along with the number and distribution of apertures in it, are specific to different species and can be readily identified under a microscope.

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), Locksley Hall The scale of prehistoric climate change is almost incomprehensible. The broad features of the last ice age are well known. For much of the past 100 000 years (100 kyr), tens of millions of cubic kilometres of ice were piled up on the northern continents. Where Chicago, Glasgow and Stockholm now stand there was ice over a kilometre thick. Sea levels were as much as 130 metres lower since huge amounts of water were locked up in the ice sheets, and vast areas of what is now continental shelf were exposed for tens of thousands of years.

This is especially true of anything to do with ice sheets. As they waxed and waned they scoured the landscape clean of soil and the attendant vegetation. Around their margins, evidence of changing weather and shifting vegetation types was either removed for some periods, or during the coldest intervals there was no identifiable build-up of deposits. So, much of the evidence was obliterated and forming an accurate local picture of the sequence of past events is difficult or impossible. Nevertheless, inklings of 26 T H E C L I M A T E O F T H E P A S T 1 0 0 0 0 0 Y E A R S shorter-term climatic changes were evident in early studies.

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