Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carbon Dioxide Role In Past Climate Revealed

Date:
April 25, 2005
Source:
British Antarctic Survey
Summary:
Researchers at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the University of California, Santa Cruz have discovered that Earth's last great global warming period, 3 million years ago, may have been caused by levels of CO2 in the atmosphere similar to today's. Reporting this week in a leading Earth Science journal, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, the scientists describe how they tested two widely held ideas that attempted to explain the balmy conditions on Earth at that time.

Researchers at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the University of California, Santa Cruz have discovered that Earth's last great global warming period, 3 million years ago, may have been caused by levels of CO2 in the atmosphere similar to today's.

Reporting this week in a leading Earth Science journal, Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, the scientists describe how they tested two widely held ideas that attempted to explain the balmy conditions on Earth at that time. Their findings clearly demonstrate that studying past climates can help us to understand the likely impact of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

BAS Principal Investigator Dr Alan Haywood said, 'There are two schools of thought about past warm intervals. Many scientists suggest that they were caused by ocean currents (like the Gulf Stream) moving greater amounts of warm water from the tropics to the polar regions. Others speculate that increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere initiated warming all over the planet. We used the latest supercomputing technology combined with chemical analysis of seabed sediments to make a sophisticated reconstruction of past sea temperatures. If the warming was caused by ocean currents, we would expect to see cooling at the tropics and warming at the poles. Conversely, if CO2 was the cause then we would expect both the tropics and the poles to warm. The sea temperature pattern we found points the finger squarely at CO2 rather than the ocean currents. This is a real breakthrough for those of us investigating past climate -- we've made a major contribution to a long standing argument and our findings are critical to understanding how climate may respond to emissions of greenhouse gases in the future'.

Clues to past sea-surface temperature come from tiny marine algae that live near the surface. They produce chemicals called alkenones that record the sea temperature. When the algae die they sink and become part of the seabed. Therefore, a record of past sea temperatures is stored within the sediments. Sea-surface temperatures were also predicted using a climate model running on a sophisticated supercomputer based at Manchester. This is capable of billions of calculations per second.



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Antarctic Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

British Antarctic Survey. "Carbon Dioxide Role In Past Climate Revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050425105901.htm>.
British Antarctic Survey. (2005, April 25). Carbon Dioxide Role In Past Climate Revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050425105901.htm
British Antarctic Survey. "Carbon Dioxide Role In Past Climate Revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050425105901.htm (accessed August 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Icelandic authorities briefly raised the aviation warning code to red on Friday during a small eruption at the Holuhraun lava field in the Bardabunga volcano system. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins