Climate crisis: Researchers have discovered ‘tipping points’ that triggered catastrophic change 55 million years ago.
SCIENTISTS have discovered the “tipping points” that set off Earth’s most dramatic episode of climate change 55 million years ago.
The revolutionary discovery casts doubt on prior theories concerning the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), one of Earth’s most catastrophic episodes of global warming. Until now, scientists thought the PETM was caused by massive volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) being released into the atmosphere by severe volcanic activity. However, the cause of this 150-year interval has remained a mystery.
Increased mercury levels have been discovered in rock samples obtained from the North Sea, according to new study from the University of Exeter.
The mercury, which was discovered shortly before the PETM started, could have been created by widespread volcanic activity.
More notably, the study discovered a rapid drop in mercury levels during the PETM’s early phases.
At least one carbon reservoir has collapsed, according to the discovery.
Carbon reservoirs are natural carbon storage sites that include huge forests, ocean life, the atmosphere, and even layers of the Earth’s crust.
The study implies that the Earth’s System contains “tipping points” where enormous amounts of CO2 can be released into the atmosphere, causing the greenhouse effect and rising temperatures.
CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion are one of the primary sources of climate change today.
The outcomes of the study could provide scientists with insight into how climate change will influence the Earth in the future.
“Greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane were released to the atmosphere during the start of the PETM in just a few thousand years,” said Dr Sev Kender of Exeter, who co-authored the paper.
“We wanted to see if big volcanic eruptions were to blame for this extraordinary greenhouse gas emission.
“We examined the mercury and carbon in the sediment cores to discover any past volcanism since volcanoes generate enormous amounts of mercury.
“What surprised us was that we didn’t uncover a straightforward link between increased volcanism and greenhouse gas emissions.”
The researchers discovered that volcanism only occurred in the early stages of the PETM, implying that the greenhouse gases had to come from somewhere else.
The PETM is regarded as one of the most rapid periods of global warming in human history.
Around the time that ice Greenland migrated away from mainland Europe, this epoch happened.
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