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Changes in the study of paleoclimate during the past 50 years can be demarcated by three revolutions. Plate tectonics was a major (“Kuhnian”) revolution. Two smaller, but nevertheless significant, revolutions were the ocean-drilling revolution and the climate-model revolution. The history of paleoclimate studies shows, in general, an evolution from geographically and/or temporally focused studies in the pre-plate tectonics era, to development of paleoclimate proxies and studies of global climate patterns, to predominantly global studies in connection with paleoclimate modeling; the revolutions have been responsible for some of the shifts in focus. In the most recent decade, new questions posed by global studies and paleoclimate models have driven a reexamination of, and new focus on, geographically and/or temporally focused work. Even more recent advances in geochronology, coupled with the current new energy in developing paleoclimate proxies, are showing the beginnings of a new cycle and hold promise of creating a fourth revolution: the human-impacts revolution.

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