Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Model Of Ancient Ocean Circulation May Help Predict Future Climate Change

Date:
October 24, 2008
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Measuring a chemical tracer in samples of ancient fish scales, bones and teeth, researchers have studied circulation in the Late Cretaceous North Atlantic Ocean. The Late Cretaceous was a time with high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and warm temperatures. Understanding such ancient greenhouse climates is important for predicting what may happen in the future. The new findings contradict some previous models.

Even though the Cretaceous Period ended more than 65 million years ago, clues remain about how the ocean water circulated at that time. Measuring a chemical tracer in samples of ancient fish scales, bones and teeth, University of Missouri and University of Florida researchers have studied circulation in the Late Cretaceous North Atlantic Ocean.

The Late Cretaceous was a time with high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and warm temperatures. Understanding such ancient greenhouse climates is important for predicting what may happen in the future. The new findings contradict some previous models.

Water masses are naturally imprinted with a chemical signature that reflects the geology in the land masses surrounding the area where they form. They carry this signature with them as they travel through the oceans, and the signature is recorded by fish skeletal material. If this fish debris is fossilized, so is the signature. MU and UF researchers collected 45 samples of 95- to 65- million-year-old fish debris from the Demerara Rise in the tropical western North Atlantic Ocean. They measured the chemical signature of these samples to estimate the source and circulation of intermediate waters during the Cretaceous Period.

“This technique allows us to track how water flowed in the Cretaceous oceans better than has been possible previously,” said Ken MacLeod, a professor of geological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. “Constraining ocean circulation patterns during greenhouse times, especially across the very large changes in the global carbon cycle that occurred during the interval we studied, is giving us a better understanding of how greenhouse oceans behave.”

Late Cretaceous atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were two to four times higher than today, which resulted in a greenhouse climate with tropical sea-surface temperatures rising to more than 34 degrees Celsius, 4 to 7 degrees Celsius (7 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than today.

“The chemical signatures we measured presented two surprising findings. Values were extremely low for open-ocean sites for most of the time between 95 and 65 million years ago, but they were interrupted by a shift that was larger and more rapid than anything previously documented in marine sediments. This shift happened precisely at the time of the largest disturbance to the global carbon cycle of the past 200 million years,” MacLeod said.

Based on the results, the researchers proposed the Late Cretaceous North Atlantic was characterized by sinking of warm, salty, equatorial waters, and that circulation became more vigorous or a new source of the chemical signature was introduced at the time of the disturbance to the carbon cycle. Both the persistent formation of warm, saline intermediate waters and enhanced mixing contradict leading paleoceanographic models for these times.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "New Model Of Ancient Ocean Circulation May Help Predict Future Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171448.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2008, October 24). New Model Of Ancient Ocean Circulation May Help Predict Future Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171448.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "New Model Of Ancient Ocean Circulation May Help Predict Future Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171448.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
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