Carbon 'being released into atmosphere 10 times faster than in past'
London, June 6 (ANI): An international team of geologists has indicated that the rate of release of carbon into the atmosphere today is nearly 10 times as fast as during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), 55.9 million years ago, the best analog we can have for current global warming.
They believed that the rapid change might not allow sufficient time for the biological environment to adjust.
"We looked at the PETM because it is thought to be the best ancient analog for future climate change caused by fossil fuel burning," said Lee R. Kump, professor of geosciences, Penn State.
Investigations of the PETM are usually done using core samples from areas that were deep-sea bottom 55.9 million years ago. These cores consist of layers of calcium carbonate from marine animals that can show whether the carbon in the carbonate came from organic or inorganic sources.
Unfortunately, when large amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide or methane are in the atmosphere, the oceans become more acidic, and acid dissolves calcium carbonate.
Using the data collected from the cores, the researchers set up computer models to find the proper amounts of greenhouse gases and atmospheric temperature that would have resulted in the carbon isotope ratios observed in the cores.
The outcome was a warming of from 9 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit and an acidification event in the oceans.
The results appear in the current issue of Nature Geoscience (ANI)
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