Monday, July 29, 2013

How can earth recover from increased CO2 emissions? Can rocks answer this question?

The climate change is thought by many environmentalists to be the biggest environmental threat of our time. Reducing the increase of carbon emissions is connected with many difficulties and there are many studies that deal with this topic. One of the most interesting ones comes from the Oxford University scientists who have studied the connection between climate change and rocks.

The conclusion of this latest study was that Earth can recover from high carbon dioxide emissions faster than previously  thought, and that this process takes around 300,000 years after emissions decline.

They have concluded this by studying the effects of climate change that occurred 93 million years ago by examining rocks from locations including Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, and South Ferriby, North Lincolnshire.

The purpose of examining these rocks was to determine how chemical weathering of rocks was able to re-balance the climate after vast amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) were emitted during more than 10,000 years of volcanic eruptions.

Chemical weathering refers to process where "CO2 from the atmosphere dissolved in rainwater reacts with rocks such as basalt or granite, dissolving them so that this atmospheric carbon then flows into the oceans, where a large proportion is 'trapped' in the bodies of marine organisms. "

By examining the rocks researchers discovered that chemical weathering increased with time, sinking away more CO2 as the world warmed and thus enabling the Earth to stabilize to a cooler climate within 300,000 years, up to four times faster than previously thought.

This study is another proof to thesis that Earth has many "secret mechanisms" that regulate climate and climate change effects which scientists are yet to discover. Perhaps the best thing to learn about our current and future climate is to look for the clues from the past.

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