A CO2 warning etched in stone and sediment

A comprehensive new review of research on episodes of carbon-driven disruption of ocean and climate conditions over the last 300 million years shows the power of a big pulse of carbon dioxide to profoundly affect the environment.

The review, which is being published in the journal Science on Friday, concludes that the human-driven buildup of carbon dioxide under way now appears to be far outpacing past natural events, meaning that, for ocean chemistry particularly, the biological implications are potentially enormous — and laden with the kind of uncertainty that is hard to see as a source of comfort.

The paper grew out of a big 2010 workshop on “Paleo-ocean acidification and carbon cycle perturbation events” — junctures in earth history in the last several hundred million years when some great disturbance — such as spasms of volcanic activity — set off a big buildup of carbon in the atmosphere and oceans, driving climate change and pushing surface ocean waters toward the acid side of the pH scale. Click here for the agenda and presentations that built the foundation for the new paper.

 

 

Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, 1 March 2012. Full article.


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