Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Killer methane burps caused massive global warming

15.09.2005


Researchers have uncovered new evidence of a sudden, fatal dose of global warming 180 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. The scientists’ findings, published in Nature, 14 September, could provide vital clues about the climate change we are experiencing today.



PhD student Dave Kemp, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, and supervisors Drs. Angela Coe and Anthony Cohen from the Open University Department of Earth Sciences, along with Dr. Lorenz Schwark of the University of Cologne, discovered evidence suggesting that vast amounts of methane gas were released to the atmosphere in three massive ‘methane burps’ or pulses. The addition of methane, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere had a severe impact on the environment, warming Earth about 10°C, and resulting in the extinction of a large number of species on land and in the oceans.

Dr Angela Coe says: “We’ve known about this event for a few years through earlier work by our team and others, but there’s been a great deal of uncertainty about its precise size, duration, and underlying cause. What our present study shows is that this methane release was not just one event, but 3 consecutive pulses that occurred within a 60,000 year interval. Importantly, our data demonstrate that each individual pulse was very rapid. Also, whilst the methane release was very quick, we’ve found that the recovery took much longer, occurring over a few hundred thousand years.”


The methane came from gas hydrate, a frozen mixture of water and methane found in huge quantities on the seabed. This hydrate suddenly melted, allowing the methane to escape. The OU researchers based their findings on geochemical analyses of mudrocks that are preserved along the Yorkshire coast near Whitby, UK, and date from the Jurassic Period of geological time.

Dave Kemp says: “The methane was released because slight wobbles in the Earth’s orbit periodically bring our planet closer to the Sun, warming the oceans sufficiently to melt the vast reserves of hydrate. We believe that this effect was compounded by volcanic emissions of other greenhouse gases. After the methane was released into the atmosphere from the seabed it reacted rapidly with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is also a powerful greenhouse gas that persists in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years, and it was this gas which caused such a massive global warming effect”.

Dr Anthony Cohen adds: “One of the most important aspects of the study is that it provides an accurate timescale for how the Earth, and life, reacted to a sudden increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Today we are releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. It is possible that the rate at which carbon dioxide is being added to the atmosphere now actually outstrips the rate at which it was added 180 million years ago. Given that the effects were so devastating then, it is extremely important to understand the details of past events in order to better comprehend present-day climate change. With this information, we are better informed about what action needs to be taken to mitigate or avoid some of the potential detrimental future effects.

Owen Gaffney | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nerc.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>