Rapid shifts in temperatures have altered the global climate repeatedly in Earth history, and some scientists worry that the rapid warming seen in recent decades could trigger such a change now. Still, little is known about what drives these global convulsions in climate, also known as “abrupt climate changes.”

A new project by the U.S. Department of Energy, however, aims to shed some light on the mystery. IMPACTS, or the Investigation of the Magnitudes and Probabilities of Abrupt Climate Transitions, is to bring together six national laboratories “to build more comprehensive computer models … and to make accurate predictions before abrupt climate change strikes again,” Science Daily reports.

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