A recent research linked a massive natural effect of global warming which took place several millions of years ago to volcanic eruptions. The event, which happened 56 million years ago, occurred when Greenland split from Europe, and the North Atlantic Ocean was formed.
Earth suffered a massive global warming effect millions of years ago
Researchers from the University of California managed to prove the global warming effect was linked to the carbon emissions caused by volcanic eruptions. Most of this carbon came from frozen methane, or other reservoirs which were previously in a sedimentary form. Also, the warming effect is well-known under the name of PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum).
Researchers knew that, during this event, the global temperatures rose by an average of 5 degrees Celsius, and the rates of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubled. This was a serious change that befell Earth, and is similar to what might happen to our planet in the future.
Volcanic activity was responsible for PETM
Scientists have understood the increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon was responsible for PETM. However, they haven’t been able to tell what triggered this increase. After complex geological measurements and the development of climatic simulations, they managed to find out the carbon emissions came from the interior of the planet.
Although PETM was a pretty big ecological hazard, most species managed to adapt, and avoided extinction. This helped researchers in their study, as they studied the shells of some tiny marine life forms called foraminifera. Their shells reflected the environmental conditions these creatures had to face millions of years ago, and researchers could trace the changes in pH the seawater had suffered over time.
This data, combined with the climatic simulations, revealed how the massive amount of carbon released in the atmosphere was the result of intense volcanic activity. These releases exceed all the emissions we have produced so far, and everything we can produce from now on. However, Earth managed to recover, and this research can teach us the best methods to survive another global warming event.