From Popular Science: A team of high school students have co-authored a scientific journal paper with their University of Arizona grad student instructor that could have a serious impact on the reliability of climate models. Their work details the impact of shrinkage on dried, fossilized leaves–shrinkage that is often unaccounted for in climate models. By better accounting for this change in leaf size, the students found that researchers could significantly improve the accuracy of their climate models. Climate models are usually a mash-up of all kinds of data collected from various sources, much of which is stored up in the fossil record. And one of those sources is fossilized leaves, which researchers look at to determine what kind of climate reigned in a geographical region at a given point in time. Generally speaking, larger leaves are indicative of warmer, more favorable climates.

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