Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dispelling the myth of bipolar glaciation 41 million years ago

31.08.2007
Large continental ice sheets did not exist in both hemispheres around 41 million years ago during the warmer-than modern conditions of the time.

This is the finding of scientists from the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), reported in Nature.

The Eocene epoch (55 to 34 million years ago) was the last interval of sustained global warmth in Earth's history, a likely consequence of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels much higher than today. It has been known for some time that, at the end of the Eocene, ice sheets on Antarctica first expanded to close their modern size. However, in a recent controversial move, it was proposed that, despite the high global temperatures of the time, very large ice sheets existed 8 million years earlier, not just on Antarctica but also in the Northern Hemisphere.

New findings from NOCS researchers show that, if ice sheets did exist during the controversial interval they must have been small and would have been easily accommodated on Antarctica with no need to invoke Northern Hemisphere glaciation. This result is more in keeping with other geological records and climate model results suggesting that the threshold for ice sheet inception would have been crossed earlier in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern Hemisphere because the South Pole has a continent sitting over it (Antarctica) while the North Pole has an ocean (the Arctic).

The NOCS group also identifies a short-lived event immediately preceding the controversial interval during which ocean temperatures briefly increased, the deep ocean became more acidic and the carbon cycle was perturbed by the contribution of isotopically light carbon to the ocean/atmosphere system. This finding hints at the operation of carbon cycle processes common to those thought responsible for the famous transient extreme warming events that occurred between 50 and 55 million years ago, providing a focus for future work aimed at better understanding climate-carbon cycle feedbacks.

Kirsty Edgar, Dr Paul Wilson and Philip Sexton of the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science, based at NOCS, used stable isotope analysis of fossil shells of foraminifera (microscopic marine organisms) and bulk sediment from deep-sea sediments to generate a record of climate change and estimate potential global ice volumes in the Eocene. Sediment cores were taken in the tropical Atlantic Ocean by the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP).

The Natural Environment Research Council funded this research via a UK ODP grant. Collaborator Yusuke Suganuma is based at the University of Tokyo, Japan.

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | 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

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>