Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Mystery of an Ancient Global Warming Recovery

The Earth may be able to recover from rising carbon dioxide emissions faster than previously thought, according to evidence from a prehistoric event analyzed by a Purdue University-led team.

When faced with high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising temperatures 56 million years ago, the Earth increased its ability to pull carbon from the air. This led to a recovery that was quicker than anticipated by many models of the carbon cycle - though still on the order of tens of thousands of years, said Gabriel Bowen, the associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences who led the study.

"We found that more than half of the added carbon dioxide was pulled from the atmosphere within 30,000 to 40,000 years, which is one-third of the time span previously thought," said Bowen, who also is a member of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. "We still don't know exactly where this carbon went, but the evidence suggests it was a much more dynamic response than traditional models represent."

... Plants prefer carbon-12 during photosynthesis, and when they accelerate their uptake of carbon dioxide it shifts the carbon isotope ratio in the atmosphere. This shift is then reflected in the carbon isotopes present in rock minerals formed by reactions involving atmospheric carbon dioxide, Bowen said.

"The rate of the carbon isotope change in rock minerals tells us how rapidly the carbon dioxide was pulled from the atmosphere," he said. "We can see the fluxes of carbon dioxide in to and out of the atmosphere. At the beginning of the event we see a shift indicating that a lot of organic-derived carbon dioxide had been added to the atmosphere, and at the end of the event we see a shift indicating that a lot of carbon dioxide was taken up as organic carbon and thus removed from the atmosphere."

A paper detailing the team's National Science Foundation-funded work was published in Nature Geoscience.

via The Mystery of an Ancient Global Warming Recovery.


John said...

What caused the global warming 56 million years ago??????

Xeno said...

Man is a real cause of environmental change, but not the only cause.

Sam said...

John, did you think the Earth was in some kind of stasis?

I think it is extremely unfortunate that the idea that the Earth has NEVER been in a period of "stasis" is only just now dawning on some folks. While the actions and habits of Mankind have certainly affected the world, it is frankly impossible to know just how much. (However, that's no excuse for irresponsibility! There is definitely evidence supporting our effects on it!) The Earth has gone from having no oxygen to having more than we have now. Same with carbon dioxide. Same with methane. This is not the coldest it's been nor the hottest. I honestly feel like the first step in the right direction is to understand that all of "this" changes all the time. Our parents did us a grave disservice teaching us that Creationism BS.

Barry Day said...

Creationism BS.?????

The truth which can stand on its own Sam.
Gods are an extraterrestrial race of beings.

Well worth watching ALL FIVE,The first half of the first starts out zzzzz but force your self and you will be amazed.

Barbara Joy O'Brien - Co-author of 'Genius of the Few'

Sam said...

Oh, yes. Creationism BS, absolutely. Thanks for the laughs, though.