World Transformation: Reversing Global Warming
 Reversing Global Warming
picture 29 Apr 2004 @ 09:03, by ming

From Synergic Earth News: BBC Science -- UK scientists claim they now know how Earth recovered on its own from a sudden episode of severe global warming at the time of the dinosaurs. Understanding what happened could help experts plan for the future impact of man-made global warming, experts say. Rock erosion may have leached chemicals into the sea, where they combined with carbon dioxide, causing levels of the greenhouse gas to fall worldwide. UK scientists report the details of their research in the journal Geology. About 180 million years ago, temperatures on Earth rapidly shot up by about 5 Celsius. The cause is thought to have been a sudden release of huge amounts of methane from the sea bed. Methane is itself a greenhouse gas but it is short-lived. However, it is easily oxidised to carbon dioxide (CO2) which lingers in the atmosphere for long periods of time. Plants and animals were affected by the sudden rise in atmospheric CO2. Scientists have found evidence of a marine mass extinction during this period that killed off 84% of bivalve shellfish. Over a period of about 150,000 years, the Earth returned to normal and life continued flourishing. How this happened was a mystery, but now scientists from the Open University in Milton Keynes claim to have a possible answer. "Our new evidence has shown that this warming caused the weathering of rocks on the Earth's surface to rapidly increase by at least 400%," said Dr Anthony Cohen, who led the research. "This intense rock-weathering effectively put a brake on global warming through chemical reactions that consumed the atmosphere's extra carbon dioxide." They discovered that intense rock weathering coincided with warm conditions and high atmospheric CO2. ... "Global warming is affecting the climate today, but it's very difficult to predict what's going to happen," Dr Cohen told BBC News Online. "The reason for doing these studies is that you get the whole history. If you learn what happened then, that can inform how you deal with [the same problem] in future." (02/04/04)

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