Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climatic chain reaction caused runaway greenhouse effect 55 million years ago

20.12.2007
In its December 20 issue, Nature reports new findings regarding a phase of rapid global greenhouse warming that took place 55 million years ago. This period of climate change is regarded as the best fossil analogue to current and future greenhouse warming.

Lead author is Appy Sluijs (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) and co-authors include Henk Brinkhuis, Gert-Jan Reichart (both from Utrecht University), Stefan Schouten (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: NIOZ), Jaap Sinninghe Damsté (NIOZ, UU), James C. Zachos (University of California at Santa Cruz), and Gerald R. Dickens (Rice University).

Analogous to the Earth's current situation, greenhouse warming 55 million years ago was caused by a relatively rapid increase of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. This phase, known as the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum (PETM), was studied using sediments that accumulated 55 million years ago on the ocean floor in what is now New Jersey. The new study shows that a large proportion of the greenhouse gases was released as a result of a chain-reaction of events. Probably due to intense volcanic activity, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere became higher and the ensuing greenhouse effect warmed the Earth. As a result, submarine methane hydrates (ice-like structures in which massive amounts of methane are stored) melted and released large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. This further amplified the magnitude of global warming, which comprised about 6o C in total. The study is the first to show such a chain reaction during rapid warming in a 'greenhouse world'.

The new research confirms that global warming can stimulate mechanisms that release massive amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere. Current and future warming will likely see similar effects, such as methane hydrate dissociation, adding additional greenhouse gases to those resulting from fossil fuel burning.

Last year, the same group of researchers showed in Nature that tropical algae migrated into the Arctic Ocean during the PETM, when temperatures rose to 24oC. Current climate models are not capable of simulating such high temperatures in the Arcti, which has repercussions for the predictions of future climate change. In addition to Al Gore’s presentation, this type of research shows what a greenhouse world looks like, including palm trees and crocodiles in the Arctic.

Earth and Sustainability
Utrecht University has organised its top-level research into fifteen focus areas, which are intended to promote high-quality research and contribute to solving major problems in society. The study described above falls under the category 'Earth and Sustainability', where research is conducted into many of the Earth's processes and how they relate to the countless dangers threatening life on Earth. This category also includes research on climate, energy, and sustainability and nanotechnologies. For more information, please visit www.uu.nl/focusgebieden.
Nature Article
‘Environmental precursors to rapid light carbon injection at the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary’ by Appy Sluijs, Henk Brinkhuis, Stefan Schouten, Steven M. Bohaty, Cédric M. John, James C. Zachos, Gert-Jan Reichart, Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté, Erica M. Crouch & Gerald R. Dickens.

Peter van der Wilt | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uu.nl

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Cause for variability in Arctic sea ice clarified
14.05.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

nachricht Arctic rivers provide fingerprint of carbon release from thawing permafrost
08.05.2019 | Stockholm University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

Im Focus: Recording embryonic development

Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells

The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cement as a climate killer: Using industrial residues to produce carbon neutral alternatives

20.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

When bees are freezing

20.05.2019 | Life Sciences

Machine learning speeds modeling of experiments aimed at capturing fusion energy on Earth

20.05.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>