28 May 2010:
Huge CO2 `Burps’ from Oceans
May Have Contributed to End of Last Ice Age
Analyzing sediment cores from the Southern Ocean, scientists believe that large, periodic releases of deep-ocean carbon dioxide into the atmosphere may have played a role in climate swings in earlier eras,
including the ending of the last Ice Age 18,000 years ago. Using radiocarbon dating techniques, an international team of researchers analyzed the carbon content of tiny marine creatures called foraminifera found in marine sediment. Comparing that data with CO2 and temperature data from Antarctic ice cores, the scientists concluded that CO2 would build up over thousands of years in the deep ocean, and then periodically be released into the atmosphere in a large “burp.” These CO2 pulses were massive, roughly equivalent to the amount of CO2 emitted by fossil fuel burning since the industrial revolution. Such a large release of CO2 warmed the atmosphere and may have played a role in ending ice ages. Reporting in the journal Science
, the researchers said that the CO2 “burps” — coupled with the warming and cooling of the Earth driven by changes in the planet’s orbit around the sun — may have played an important role in past cycles of glaciation and deglaciation.
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