Earth Recovered from Prehistoric Global Warming Faster Than Previously Thought
ScienceDaily (Apr. 21, 2011) — Earth may be able to recover from rising carbon dioxide emissions faster than previously thought, according to evidence from a prehistoric event analyzed by a Purdue University-led team.
When faced with high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising temperatures 56 million years ago, Earth increased its ability to pull carbon from the air. This led to a recovery that was quicker than anticipated by many models of the carbon cycle -- though still on the order of tens of thousands of years, said Gabriel Bowen, the associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences who led the study.
"We found that more than half of the added carbon dioxide was pulled from the atmosphere within 30,000 to 40,000 years, which is one-third of the time span previously thought," said Bowen, who also is a member of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. "We still don't know exactly where this carbon went, but the evidence suggests it was a much more dynamic response than traditional models represent."
Bowen worked with James Zachos, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to study the end of the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, an approximately 170,000-year-long period of global warming that has many features in common with the world's current situation, he said.
Article continues: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110421151919.htm