After the ancient global warming, the climate on Earth was recovering for hundreds of thousands of years

(ORDO NEWS) — Approximately 56 million years ago, a massive release of greenhouse gases, believed to be caused by volcanic activity, triggered a period of sudden global warming known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

The results of the research, published in the journal Science Advances, show that before the above event, there was a temporary increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which led to a warming of the ocean.

It is important to note that the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere during this event was roughly equal to the current combined carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

“PETM is an important geologic climate event because it is one of the best comparisons to current climate change and can help inform how the Earth system will respond to current and future warming,” said study lead author Tali Babila from the University of Southampton.

The new findings are based on a survey of marine sediments in shallow waters along the US Atlantic coast. Since the sea level was higher during the PETM, and the areas of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey were under water at that time, the researchers chose sedimentary cores drilled in this place for study.

In addition, marine sediments contain small shells of tiny marine organisms called foraminifera that lived in the ocean’s surface waters. The chemical composition of these shells confirms the environmental conditions in which they formed.

The researchers were also able to reconstruct the exact time of ocean acidification.

The researchers concluded that the precursor signal in parts of Maryland speaks of a global event that likely lasted several decades or millennia.

The two carbon bursts resulted in radically different mechanisms and timescales for the recovery of the Earth’s carbon cycle and the climate system.

Moreover, carbon emissions during a sharp warming exceeded the ocean’s ability to accumulate carbon dioxide. It has taken tens of thousands of years for the Earth’s climate system to recover from extreme warming.

These events provide insight into how the Earth’s current climate might respond if fossil fuel use is not stopped and carbon emissions continue to rise at their current rate.

“Natural geological processes such as rock weathering and carbon burial showed that the Earth eventually recovered from global warming, but it took hundreds of thousands of years,” Vavila said.

Researchers are confident that urgent action is needed to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere to avoid long-term consequences.


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