New research into a missing link in climatology shows that the Earth was not overcome by a greenhouse period when dinosaurs dominated, but experienced rapid fluctuations in temperature and sea level change that resulted in a balance of the global carbon cycle. The study is being published in the March issue of Geology.
"Most people think the mid-Cretaceous period was a super-greenhouse," says Darren Gröcke, assistant professor and Director of the Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratory at McMaster University. "But in fact it was not to dissimilar to the climates over the past 5 million years."
By using high-resolution stable-isotope analysis from 95-million-year-old fossilized wood collected from Nebraska, Gröcke and his team were able to precisely correlate the terrestrial carbon cycle with that from deep-sea records. However, when they compared the carbon curves from both records, it was evident that a chunk of about 500,000 years was missing from the terrestrial record. Other records already indicated a drop in sea level, a 2-4ºC drop in oceanic temperature and a breakdown in oceanic stratification coincident with a marine extinction event.
Jane Christmas | EurekAlert!
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