Montañez, study leader and a geologist from the University of California at
Davis, and a team of researchers, plan to study the cores of rocks and dirt around
the world in an effort to understand transitions, such as those between
icehouse and greenhouse states, in climate throughout history.
who have studied rocks and ice from 2 million years ago have already composed a
record of Earth’s changing climate, but according to UC Davis researchers, the
problem is that our atmosphere contains 25 to 30 percent more carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere than "at any point in that record."
worried by what the climate future may hold in regards to the amount of carbon
dioxide emitted, the UC Davis research team is looking to study transitions
between various climate-related states at different sites around the world
through the cores of rocks and dirt. By understanding the past, they hope to
predict the future.
past times of higher CO2 were much warmer, and there were processes
operating that don't operate in our current climate,” said Montañez. "And
they lead to amplified change, accelerated warming, changes in ice sheets,
things like that."
for the team's research are geologic events such as the burst of volcanic
eruptions 55 million years ago, which filled the atmosphere with carbon
dioxide and increased global temperatures. From there, the UC Davis team stated
that the oceans were warmed, which led to the release of large amounts of
methane, which accelerated warming. This caused the extinction event known as
the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, and the team claims this could happen at
some point today or in the future.
we continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere
and don't do something about abating those emissions, by the end of this
century we are looking to be where we were 35 million years ago," said
cores contain minerals, shells and plants that can be used to measure levels of
carbon dioxide as well as temperature. Through this, the UC Davis team is
looking to study transitions between icehouse and greenhouse states.
are all proxies [and] the technology that allows us to define these proxies has
been revolutionized in the last decade in terms of its ability to do that and
to actually read time in old sediments and rocks," said Montañez.
researchers also noted that scientists in the future will look at rock cores
from today in order to understand the transition to the Anthropocene, or the age
of man. Montañez said that the Anthropocene will end about "80,000 years
from now," and that it will probably look much like the intervals seen in
the past they are studying today.