Skip to comments.Ancient natural global warming ( Studies from the Artic )
Posted on 02/27/2011 1:27:52 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Arctic environment during an ancient bout of natural global warming
Scientists are unravelling the environmental changes that took place around the Arctic during an exceptional episode of ancient global warming. Newly published results from a high-resolution study of sediments collected on Spitsbergen represent a significant contribution to this endeavour. The study was led by Dr Ian Harding and Prof John Marshall of the University of Southamptons School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES), based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.
Around 56 million years ago there was a period of global warming called the PaleoceneEocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), during which global sea surface temperatures increased by approximately 5°C.
The warming of the oceans led to profound ecological changes, including the widespread extinction of many types of foraminifera, tiny single-celled organisms with distinctive shells. Plankton that had previously only prospered in tropical and subtropical waters migrated to higher latitudes. Similar changes occurred on the land, with many animals and plants extending their distributions towards the poles.
Although environmental changes associated with the PETM at low- to mid-latitude settings and high southern latitudes are well documented, we know less about these changes at high northern latitudes, explained Dr Harding.
Information about the Arctic environment during the PETM has come predominantly from sediment cores drilled from under the pack ice on the Lomonosov Ridge (~ 88°N) by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP Site 302-4A). However, these cores do not span the entire PETM and therefore do not provide a complete picture.
Information from other Arctic sites is needed for a better understanding of PETM environmental conditions, such data can then in turn be used in computer models which will improve our understanding not only of past climatic conditions but also enhance our ability to predict future perturbations, said Dr Harding.
To help fill this knowledge gap, Dr Hardings team turned to a site (~78 °N) on Spitsbergen in the high Arctic. Here, 2.5-kilometre-thick sediments span the critical period. During the PETM, the site would have been at around 75 °N, the difference in position being due to the slow movement of tectonic plates over millions of years.
Through analyses of plankton and the chemical and magnetic characteristics of the sediments, they were unambiguously able to identify a 15-metre succession of exposed sediment representing the approximately 170 thousand year PETM event.
At the base of the segment they found the preserved remains of the cyst-forming dinoflagellate Apectodinium augustum, a planktonic species diagnostic of the PETM across the globe. In fact, the species was already present in Spitsbergen before the shift in carbon isotope composition formally marking the onset of the PETM, suggesting that environment change was by then already well underway.
Along with data from other sites, their Arctic evidence suggests not only that sea level began to rise well before the formal onset of the PETM, but also that it peaked about 13,000 years into the period. At the same time, increased surface-water run-off from the land dampened water-column mixing and led to stratification, with an upper freshened layer that overlay denser, more saline seawater beneath.
By carefully comparing their results with those from IODP Site 302-4A to the north, they found evidence for regional differences in the environmental manifestations of the PETM in high northern latitudes. For example, the evidence from the IODP site suggests that the sunlit surface layer of the ocean was often depleted of oxygen, the results from Spitsbergen suggest that oxygen depletion was largely restricted to the bottom waters and sediments. In addition, they found that pollen from flowering plants was scarce, unlike at the IODP site, suggesting that conditions around the Spitsbergen Central Basin may not have been conducive to the growth of flowering plants during the PETM.
Because this geologically short-lived event is represented by such an expanded section at Spitsbergen by comparison to other deep water sites, this locality has provided us with opportunities for further high-resolution studies of the PETM, which we are currently preparing for publication, concluded Dr Harding.
The researchers are Ian Harding, Adam Charles , John Marshall, Heiko Pälike, Paul Wilson, Edward Jarvis, Robert Thorne, Emily Morris, Rebecca Moremon, Richard Pearce and Shir Akbari of SOES, and Andrew Roberts of the Australian National University, Canberra.
Preliminary field work was funded by The Millennium Atlas Company Limited, and a second expedition with other members of the palaeo-Arctic Climates and Environments (pACE) group was funded by the Worldwide Universities Network.
Harding, I. C., Charles, A. J., Marshall, J. E. A., Pälike, H., Roberts, A. P., Wilson, P. A., Jarvis, E., Thorne, T., Morris, E., Moremon, R., Pearce, R. B. & Akbari, S. Sea-level and salinity fluctuations during the PaleoceneEocene thermal maximum in Arctic Spitsbergen. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. (2011).doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.12.043
And this is from the UK.... University of Southampton.
|Thoughts for the day
“this is from the UK.... University of Southampton”
I’ve noticed that the people in the UK aren’t engaged in such a polar battle between liberals and conservatives as the US - basically because the left has already won there.
As a result, there is often more honesty in these cases, because they don’t fight everything like a war.
It’s like you can find on British university sites the admission that the whole “polar shifts” idea is purely based on a wobbly statistical analysis, and you CANNOT observe some clear evidence on the bottom of the ocean, as you would think from the white line/black line images that you see on Wikipedia.
It is important to know whether the poles “swap”, as we know that the magnetic field has been reducing a LOT, and without the idea of “swaps”, it would greatly bolster the young Earth argument.
Most brits lost their religion long ago, so they don’t seem to realize the liberals are fighting a war with Christians on this issue, so you get more honesty from their academia a lot of the time.
Tax us Trillions and we'll feel much better knowing that no Foraminifera were harmed.
” In addition, they found that pollen from flowering plants was scarce, unlike at the IODP site, suggesting that conditions around the Spitsbergen Central Basin may not have been conducive to the growth of flowering plants during the PETM.”
For once the original paper is easily available:
Well worth reading.
Is this how the last significant technological civilization killed itself? /s
The most extreme change in Earth surface conditions during the Cenozoic Era began at the temporal boundary between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs . This event, the PaleoceneEocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, alternatively "Eocene thermal maximum 1" (ETM1), and formerly known as the "Initial Eocene" or "Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum", (IETM/LPTM)), was associated with rapid (in geological terms) global warming, profound changes in ecosystems, and major perturbations in the carbon cycle.
Global temperatures rose by about 6°C (11°F) over a period of approximately 20,000 years. Many benthic foraminifera and terrestrial mammals went extinct, but numerous modern mammalian orders emerged. The event is linked to a prominent negative excursion in carbon stable isotope (δ13C) records from across the globe, and dissolution of carbonate deposited on all ocean basins. The latter observations strongly suggest that a massive input of 13C-depleted carbon entered the hydrosphere or atmosphere at the start of the PETM. Recently, geoscientists have begun to investigate the PETM in order to better understand the fate and transport of increasing greenhouse-gas emissions over millenial time scales.
Earth surface temperatures increased by about 6°C from the late Paleocene through the early Eocene, culminating in the "Early Eocene Climatic Optimum" (EECO). Superimposed on this long-term, gradual warming were at least two (and likely more) "hyperthermals". These can be defined as geologically brief (<200,000 year) events characterized by rapid global warming, major changes in the environment, and massive carbon addition. Of these, the PETM was the most extreme and perhaps the first (at least within the Cenozoic). Another hyperthermal clearly occurred at approximately 53.7 Ma, and is now called ETM-2 (also referred to as H-1, or the Elmo event). However, additional hyperthermals likely occurred at about 53.6 Ma (H-2), 53.3 (I-1), 53.2 (I-2) and 52.8 Ma (informally called K, X or ETM-3). The number, nomenclature, absolute ages, and relative global impact of the Eocene hyperthermals are the source of considerable current research. Whether they only occurred during the long-term warming, and whether they are causally related to apparently similar events in older intervals of the geological record (e.g., the Toarcian turnover of the Jurassic) are open issues.
Average global temperatures increased by ~6°C (11°F) within about 20,000 years. This is based on several lines of evidence. There is a prominent (>1) negative excursion in the δ18O of foraminifera shells, both those made in surface and deep ocean water. Because there was a paucity of continental ice in the early Paleogene, the shift in δ18O very likely signifies a rise in ocean temperature. The temperature rise is also supported by analyses of foraminifera Mg/Ca and ratios of certain organic compounds (TEX86).
Due to the positive feedback effect of melting ice reducing albedo, temperature increases would have been greatest at the poles, which reached an average annual temperature of 10 to 20 °C (50 to 68 °F); the surface waters of the northernmost Arctic ocean warmed, seasonally at least, enough to support tropical lifeforms requiring surface temperatures of over 22°C.
Clear evidence for massive addition of 13C-depleted carbon at the onset of the PETM comes from two observations. First, a prominent negative excursion in the carbon isotope composition (δ13C) of carbon-bearing phases characterizes the PETM in numerous widespread locations from a range of environments. Second, carbonate dissolution marks the PETM in sections from the deep-sea.
The total mass of carbon injected to the ocean and atmosphere during the PETM remains the source of debate. In theory, it can be estimated from the magnitude of the δ13C excursion, the amount of carbonate dissolution on the seafloor, or ideally both. However, the shift in the δ13C across the PETM depends on the location and the carbon-bearing phase analyzed. In some records of bulk carbonate, it is about 2; in some records of terrestrial carbonate or organic matter it exceeds 6. Carbonate dissolution also varies throughout different ocean basins. It is extreme in parts of the north and central Atlantic Ocean but far less pronounced in the Pacific Ocean. With available information, estimates of the carbon addition range from about 2500 to over 6800 gigatons 
The timing of the PETM δ13C excursion has been calculated in two complementary ways. The iconic core covering this time period is the ODP's Core 690, and the timing is based exclusively on this core's record. The original timing was calculated assuming a constant sedimentation rate. This model was improved using the assumption that 3He flux is constant; this cosmogenic nuclide is produced at a (roughly) constant rate by the sun, and there is little reason to assume large fluctuations in the solar wind across this short time period. Both models have their failings, but agree on a few points. Importantly, they both detect two steps in the drop of δ13C, each lasting about 1,000 years, and separated by about 20,000 years. The models diverge most in their estimate of the recovery time, which ranges from 150,000 to 30,000 years. There is other evidence to suggest that warming predated the δ13C excursion by some 3,000 years.
The climate would also have become much wetter, with the increase in evaporation rates peaking in the tropics. Deuterium isotopes reveal that much more of this moisture was transported polewards than normal. This would have resulted in the largely isolated Arctic ocean's taking on a more freshwater character as northern hemisphere rainfall was channelled towards it.
Despite the global lack of ice, the sea level would have risen due to thermal expansion. Evidence for this can be found in the shifting palynomorph assemblages of the Arctic ocean, which reflect a relative decrease in terrestrial organic material compared to marine organic matter.
At the start of the PETM, the ocean circulation patterns changed radically in the course of under 5,000 years. Global-scale current directions reversed; for example, deep water in the Atlantic flowed from north to south instead of the usual south to north. This "backwards" flow persisted for 40,000 years. Such a change would transport warm water to the deep oceans, enhancing further warming.
The lysocline marks the depth at which carbonate starts to dissolve (above the lysocline, carbonate is oversaturated): today, this is at about 4 km, comparable to the median depth of the oceans. This depth depends on (among other things) temperature and the amount of CO2 dissolved in the ocean. Adding CO2 initially shallows the lysocline, resulting in the dissolution of deep water carbonates. This deep-water acidification can be observed in ocean cores, which show (where bioturbation has not destroyed the signal) an abrupt change from grey carbonate ooze to red clays (followed by a gradual grading back to grey). It is far more pronounced in north Atlantic cores than elsewhere, suggesting that acidification was more concentrated here, related to a greater rise in the level of the lysocline. In parts of the southeast Atlantic, the lysocline rose by 2 km in just a few thousand years.
You mean the Flintstones?....LOL!
Seems to me that they have decided that the warming was blamed on CO2....
From the attic or from the Arctic?
I believe that is a Warmists website
Filed under: * Climate Science * Greenhouse gases * Paleoclimate * Reporting on climate gavin @ 10 August 2009
The problems probably started with the title of the paper Carbon dioxide forcing alone insufficient to explain PalaeoceneEocene Thermal Maximum warming which on its own might have been unproblematic. However, it was paired with a press release from Rice University that was titled Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong, containing the statement from Jerry Dickens that
Since the know-nothings agree one hundred per cent with these two last statements, it took no time at all for the press release to get passed along by Marc Morano, posted on Drudge, and declared the final nail in the coffin for alarmist global warming science on WUWT (Andrew Freedman at WaPo has a good discussion of this). The fact that what was really being said was that climate sensitivity is probably larger than produced in standard climate models seemed to pass almost all of these people by (though a few of their more astute commenters did pick up on it). Regardless, the message went out that climate models are wrong with the implicit sub-text that current global warming is nothing to worry about. Almost the exact opposite point that the authors wanted to make (another press release from U. Hawaii was much better in that respect).
What might have been done differently?
First off, headlines and titles that simply confirm someones prior belief (even if that belief is completely at odds with the substance of the paper) are a really bad idea. Many people do not go beyond the headline they read it, they agree with it, they move on. Also one should avoid truisms. All models are indeed wrong they are models, not perfect representations of the real world. The real question is whether they are useful what do they underestimate? overestimate? and are they sufficiently complete? Thus a much better title for the press release would have been more specific Global warming: Our best guess is likely too small and much less misinterpretable!
Secondly, a lot of the confusion is related to the use of the word model itself. When people hear climate model, they generally think of the big ocean-atmosphere models run by GISS, NCAR or Hadley Centre etc. for the 20th Century climate and for future scenarios. The model used in Zeebe et al was not one of these, instead it was a relatively sophisticated carbon cycle model that tracks the different elements of the carbon cycle, but not the changes in climate.
It was a wierd event says Gavin...of the Climate Scientists group....Post #19.