By Mark Strehl, Good Day Chicago Meteorologist - bio | email
Iowa State University's Alan Wanamaker studies Atlantic clam shells for clues to the ocean's past. (Credit: Photo by Bob Elbert/Iowa State University)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
Just think, the next time that you're having a bowl of clam chowder, the shells from the clams used to make your tasty treat may have been used to help scientists learn more about how the climate has changed over the past millennium.
A new study from Iowa State University has scientists dredging up clams from the bottom of the ocean to do radiocarbon and chemical analysis on those shells.
As it turns out clams can live up to 240 years (who knew?) in the waters off New England, and up to 500 years off the coast of Iceland - that's one tough clam! Each year, the clams add another ring, much like a tree does.
By studying those clams scientists have learned much information about ocean temps that correlate well with temp changes in the historical record.
Warmer readings during the Medieval times, and colder temps during the "Little Ice Age" (1550-1850).
Just another benefit of studying complex scientific issues just might be a "free" and very tasty lunch of clams.