Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Thawing permafrost 50 million years ago led to extreme global warming events
http://phys.org/news ^ | 04-09-2012 | Provided by University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Posted on 04/09/2012 6:18:02 AM PDT by Red Badger

In a new study reported in Nature, climate scientist Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues elsewhere propose a simple new mechanism to explain the source of carbon that fed a series of extreme warming events about 55 million years ago, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), and a sequence of similar, smaller warming events afterward.

"The standard hypothesis has been that the source of carbon was in the ocean, in the form of frozen methane gas in ocean-floor sediments," DeConto says. "We are instead ascribing the carbon source to the continents, in polar latitudes where permafrost can store massive amounts of carbon that can be released as CO2 when the permafrost thaws."

The new view is supported by calculations estimating interactions of variables such as greenhouse gas levels, changes in the Earth's tilt and orbit, ancient distributions of vegetation, and carbon stored in rocks and in frozen soil.

While the amounts of carbon involved in the ancient soil-thaw scenarios was likely much greater than today, implications of the study appear dire for the long-term future as polar permafrost carbon deposits have begun to thaw due to burning fossil-fuels, DeConto adds. "Similar dynamics are at play today. Global warming is degrading permafrost in the north polar regions, thawing frozen organic matter, which will decay to release CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This will only exacerbate future warming in a positive feedback loop."

He and colleagues at Yale, the University of Colorado, Penn State, the University of Urbino, Italy, and the University of Sheffield, U.K., designed an accurate model―elusive up to now―to satisfactorily account for the source, magnitude and timing of carbon release at the PETM and subsequent very warm periods, which now appear to have been triggered by changes in the Earth's orbit.

Earth's atmospheric temperature is a result of energy input from the sun minus what escapes back to space. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs and traps heat that would otherwise return to space. The PETM was accompanied by a massive carbon input to the atmosphere, with ocean acidification, and was characterized by a global temperature rise of about 5 degrees C in a few thousand years, the researchers point out. Until now, it has been difficult to account for the massive amounts of carbon required to cause such dramatic global warming events.

To build the new model, DeConto's team used a new, high-precision geologic record from rocks in central Italy to show that the PETM and other hyperthermals occurred during periods when Earth's orbit around the sun was both highly eccentric (non-circular) and oblique (tilted). Orbit affects the amount, location and seasonality of solar radiation received on Earth, which in turn affects the seasons, particularly in polar latitudes, where permafrost and stored carbon can accumulate.

They then simulated climate-ecosystem-soil interactions, accounting for gradually rising greenhouse gases and polar temperatures plus the combined effects of changes in Earth orbit. Their results show that the magnitude and timing of the PETM and subsequent hyperthermals can be explained by the orbitally triggered decomposition of soil organic carbon in the circum-Arctic and Antarctica.

This massive carbon reservoir at the poles "had the potential to repeatedly release thousands of petagrams of carbon to the atmosphere-ocean system once a long-term warming threshold was reached just prior to the PETM," DeConto and colleagues say. Until now, Antarctica, which today is covered by kilometers of ice, has not been appreciated as an important player in such global carbon dynamics.

In the past, "Antarctica and high elevations of the circum-Arctic were suitable locations for massive carbon storage," they add. "During long-term warming, these environments eventually reached a climatic threshold," with permafrost thaw and the sudden release of stored soil carbon triggered during the Earth's highly eccentric orbits coupled with high tilt.

The model described in the paper also provides a mechanism that helps to explain relatively rapid recovery from hyperthermals associated with orbital extremes occurring about every 1.2 million years, which had until now been difficult.

Overall, they conclude, "an orbital-permafrost soil carbon mechanism provides a unifying model accounting for the salient features of the hyperthermals that other previously proposed mechanisms fail to explain." Further, if the analysis is correct and past extreme warm events can be attributed to permafrost loss, it implies that thawing of permafrost in similar environments observed today "will provide a substantial positive feedback to future warming."


TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society; Russia; US: Alaska
KEYWORDS: agw; alaska; antarctica; catastrophism; climate; climatechange; globalwarming; globalwarminghoax; globullwarming; italy; russia
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-57 next last

This is thawing permafrost on the North Slope along the Sagavanirktok River near Deadhorse, Alaska. Credit: Courtesy of Kevin Schaefer of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado Boulder

1 posted on 04/09/2012 6:18:16 AM PDT by Red Badger
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Ping!..........


2 posted on 04/09/2012 6:19:01 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

doomed !!

doomed i tell you !!

we all are


3 posted on 04/09/2012 6:20:55 AM PDT by beebuster2000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Likely not. Looks like a pork project in the making.


4 posted on 04/09/2012 6:23:44 AM PDT by lurk
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Wouldn’t it have to warm FIRST in order to melt the permafrost and THEN release the CO2?


5 posted on 04/09/2012 6:24:23 AM PDT by Roccus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

OK, so thawing permafrost released CO2.

Now... what caused the permafrost to thaw?


6 posted on 04/09/2012 6:25:58 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Roccus

That’s what I thought, but I’m not a politically motivated scientist and the GSA did not put me up in a Holiday Inn express.


7 posted on 04/09/2012 6:26:41 AM PDT by 98ZJ USMC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Those damn mammoths and T-rex driving SUVs back then!


8 posted on 04/09/2012 6:26:57 AM PDT by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Roccus

I think the point is that orbital fluctuations caused the permafrost to begin melting and that released carbon in the form of methane and other gases that sped up the process in a catastrophic manner.....


9 posted on 04/09/2012 6:27:38 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Roccus

BMTA

Maybe they got their ‘model’ too close to a heating duct.


10 posted on 04/09/2012 6:27:56 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Two topics: (1) what caused the permafrost to warm and thaw? (2) just because your model fits THESE data, doesn’t mean your model is “true”.

In other words, it drives me nuts when these ‘scientists’ fail to THINK. If the PERMAfrost melted/thawed, then the earth must have ALREADY been warming. If the earth was ALREADY warming, then snow cover would be retreating as well, and the albedo (reflection of IR off snow cover) was decreasing as well.

It defies simple logic to “believe” the premise that CO2 rise precedes temp rise CAUSED by CO2 release. *IF* the PERMA frost is no longer permanent, and thus releasing CO2, then it MUST have been experiencing prior warming? RIIIIGGGHHHTTT?????

This very issue came up with ALGORE’s Inconvenient Truth — the WARMING in his two graph lines PRECEDED CO2 increase by 400 - 1000 YEARS. Geesh, not this crap again.

But, I bet they were well funded in this research ...


11 posted on 04/09/2012 6:28:19 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur: non vehere est inermus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

U


12 posted on 04/09/2012 6:28:31 AM PDT by nixonsnose (Let's see all you lawyers argue your way out of hell.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

The new view is supported by calculations estimating interactions of variables such as greenhouse gas levels, changes in the Earth’s tilt and orbit, ancient distributions of vegetation, and carbon stored in rocks and in frozen soil.

Why do I doubt this math?


13 posted on 04/09/2012 6:29:25 AM PDT by nixonsnose (Let's see all you lawyers argue your way out of hell.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2
Overall, they conclude, "an orbital-permafrost soil carbon mechanism provides a unifying model accounting for the salient features of the hyperthermals that other previously proposed mechanisms fail to explain."
14 posted on 04/09/2012 6:29:42 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2
OK, so thawing permafrost released CO2. Now... what caused the permafrost to thaw?
His High Asininity, The Great Priest of GloBull himself, Al Gore, tells us that "the relationship between carbon and temperature is complicated..."

That's right, Al baby. Complicated in that CO2 increases generally LAGGED temperature increases by as much as 800 years... throughout the entire history of life on earth.

15 posted on 04/09/2012 6:32:22 AM PDT by samtheman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
orbital flucuations

Hmmmm... the Earth is closer to the Sun in WINTER, and further away in SUMMER (or at least for our hemisphere).

16 posted on 04/09/2012 6:32:29 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

If permafrost releases methane gas when it thaws are those permafarts????


17 posted on 04/09/2012 6:34:02 AM PDT by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

But it doesn’t stay that way.
The orbit of the earth alters periodically, slowly, over thousands of years, to where the opposite is true for a looooong time until it comes back to the beginning of the cycle............


18 posted on 04/09/2012 6:36:26 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Thawing permafrost 50 million years ago led to extreme global warming events

Extreme enough to eventually allow the emergence and existence of a human species?

19 posted on 04/09/2012 6:39:41 AM PDT by meadsjn (Sarah 2012, or sooner)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Everyone knows this is false as the only source of global warming is man made CO2. /s
20 posted on 04/09/2012 6:40:31 AM PDT by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

“polar permafrost carbon deposits have begun to thaw due to burning fossil-fuels,”

So what was the cause of the permafrost thaw 50 MY ago? Fer shur it was not burning fossil fuels.

This is an unfounded assertion based on political correctness and imposition of Official Reality.


21 posted on 04/09/2012 6:41:52 AM PDT by DBrow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

“what caused the permafrost to thaw?”

Apparently you are unaware of man’s massive burning of carbon-based fuels 55 million years ago....

More seriously, this I believe is the explanation:
“PETM and other hyperthermals occurred during periods when Earth’s orbit around the sun was both highly eccentric (non-circular) and oblique (tilted)”

I gather that this is a “feedback” explanation: initial warming caused by variations in Earth’s orbit that placed it closer to the sun triggers a release of carbon which in turn creates a global warming effect that amplifies this initial warming, so then the patterns keeps repeating/amplifying. Of course, if it keeps amplifying, it’s not obvious to me (I’m no climate scientist) what makes the cycle stop and reverse. Nevertheless, as explained, the cycle sounds plausible, and note that there is ZERO contribution of humans to make it happen!


22 posted on 04/09/2012 6:42:19 AM PDT by DrC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
"an orbital-permafrost soil carbon mechanism provides a unifying model accounting for the salient features of the hyperthermals that other previously proposed mechanisms fail to explain."

Maybe it used to be cloudy all the time.

23 posted on 04/09/2012 6:47:06 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
The orbit of the earth alters periodically, slowly, over thousands of years, to where the opposite is true for a looooong time until it comes back to the beginning of the cycle............

True. Also true is that WINTER for us is SUMMER for those in the Southern Hemisphere.

The point is that whether closer or further away, the temp of the Earth doesn't change, or the change is so small it is negligible.

24 posted on 04/09/2012 6:53:15 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Today, on Anthony Watt’s blog, is an important discussion directly related to this topic:

Did Shakun et al. really prove that CO2 preceded late glacial warming? [Part 1]

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/08/did-shakun-et-al-really-prove-that-co2-precede-late-glacial-warming-part-1/


25 posted on 04/09/2012 7:00:05 AM PDT by theBuckwheat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
"Scientist Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues elsewhere propose a simple new mechanism to explain the source of carbon that fed a series of extreme warming events"

I have an even simpler model of global warming that these idiots seem to have missed: Warming causes Thawing

I validate this model every time I take a chicken out of the freezer. Some how these geniuses want us to believe the opposite i.e. that the initial warming that caused the melting in the first place is NOT responsible for the subsequent warming. I simply don't buy it.

26 posted on 04/09/2012 7:00:05 AM PDT by norwaypinesavage (Galileo: In science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of one individual)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DrC
Earth’s orbit around the sun was both highly eccentric (non-circular) and oblique (tilted)”

Tilted? in relation to what? And why would that matter?

However, let's go with that theory.

initial warming caused by variations in Earth’s orbit that placed it closer to the sun triggers a release of carbon which in turn creates a global warming effect that amplifies this initial warming, so then the patterns keeps repeating/amplifying.

If the Earth occupies a HIGHLY ECCENTRIC orbit, then not only is it CLOSER to the SUN for a short amount of time but it is also FURTHER from the SUN for a much longer amount of time.

This would make it an iceball that gets ICE burnt off it's equator once a 'year'. (Wonder how long a 'year' was back then?)

27 posted on 04/09/2012 7:03:39 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: DrC
“PETM and other hyperthermals occurred during periods when Earth’s orbit around the sun was both highly eccentric (non-circular) and oblique (tilted)”

And since neither of these is true of the Earth's orbit currently, the basis for their model is false.

28 posted on 04/09/2012 7:12:40 AM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Thawing permafrost 50 million years ago led to extreme global warming events

This would have been before the advent of the industrial revolution, right? Also, I'm thinking it was probably an extreme global warming event that led to the thawing permafrost as well as to the temporary end of all of the previous glaciations.
29 posted on 04/09/2012 7:17:42 AM PDT by aruanan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

I a related story I caught the very end of James Cameron’s new documentary about the Titanic on the National Geographic Channel. He spends the last minute whining about the next “iceberg” to hit us all, global warming. Avoid this show at all costs.


30 posted on 04/09/2012 7:22:56 AM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Ah, yes; UMass/Amherst, my alma matter. Where snarly, IQ 80 “victims of a racist, homophobic, sexist, white society” can get a “Doctorate in Social Justice.” ANYTHING coming out of UMass that is not engineering, physical science, or forestry, has become a huge pile of crap.


31 posted on 04/09/2012 7:27:36 AM PDT by pabianice (")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

Read the original article and they blame the perma frost melting because of burning of fossil fuel. It’s still ‘man made’.


32 posted on 04/09/2012 7:31:01 AM PDT by Dudoight
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

The picture of the North Slope is missing one very important feature: the trillions of mosquitoes that inhabit that place! In the summer the swarms are so thick they blot out the sun, therefore preventing the permafrost from melting. Perhaps in the Eocene there were no mosquitoes?


33 posted on 04/09/2012 7:33:37 AM PDT by epithermal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

“Now... what caused the permafrost to thaw?”

My follow up question: What caused the permafrost to refreeze? according to their theories, there should have been a runaway greenhouse effect that would have left the Earth “warm” forever. How do their models explain all the organic matter now frozen?


34 posted on 04/09/2012 7:40:53 AM PDT by running_dog_lackey
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
climate scientist Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues elsewhere propose a simple new mechanism to explain the source of carbon that fed a series of extreme warming events about 55 million years ago, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), and a sequence of similar, smaller warming events afterward.

Bush's fault.

35 posted on 04/09/2012 7:49:47 AM PDT by Dixie Yooper (Ephesians 6:11)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Silly me....

I thought Warming caused thawing....

How does somebody propose that “thawing” could possibly be a driving mechanism for warming?

Oh...I forgot, these are the same clowns who failed to recognize that Warming causes the increase in CO2 levels, so they’ve grown accustomed to inverting cause and effect.


36 posted on 04/09/2012 7:56:10 AM PDT by G Larry (We are NOT obliged to carry the snake in our pocket and then dismiss the bites as natural behavior.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2

Now now. Stop bringing logic in to the mix. The bottom line for all of this nonsense is that when Momma Earth decides she’s done with us there isn’t anything we can do about it. You can’t run and you can’t hide so we all might as well have a good time while we can.
Helping keep mankind warm for almost 65 years.


37 posted on 04/09/2012 7:56:10 AM PDT by rktman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: pabianice

What IS a “Doctorate in Social Justice.”?.............

38 posted on 04/09/2012 7:57:18 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
>>He and colleagues at Yale, the University of Colorado, Penn State, the University of Urbino, Italy, and the University of Sheffield, U.K., designed an accurate model―elusive up to now...< They're essentially admitting that past climate models are inaccurate, but hey, now they've got it right. Right.
39 posted on 04/09/2012 7:59:17 AM PDT by Norseman (Defund the Left-Completely!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Norseman

Way back in the Stone Age when I went to college, we were taught never to make your data fit the problem...........


40 posted on 04/09/2012 8:13:53 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: UCANSEE2
Now... what caused the permafrost to thaw?

I think the people of BEDROCK driving around in the FLINTMOBILES!! /s

41 posted on 04/09/2012 8:42:41 AM PDT by ExCTCitizen (If we stay home in November '12, don't blame 0 for tearing up the CONSTITUTION!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Going by the idea that current global warming is man-made, we must deduce that the dinosaurs had created enormous carbon footprints from their callous industrious methods that led to the thawing of permafrost 50 million years ago. Shame on them!


42 posted on 04/09/2012 9:17:34 AM PDT by Marko413
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

This entire article presupposes AGW, a fraudulent theory.

That makes this article birdcage liner.

Even the picture is bogus. You think wave action & current might have just a little something to do with shoreline erosion? You can see this type of erosion on any steep sloped beach or riverside in the world.


43 posted on 04/09/2012 9:53:29 AM PDT by Mister Da (The mark of a wise man is not what he knows, but what he knows he doesn't know!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Marko413

44 posted on 04/09/2012 11:07:30 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Doctorate in Social Justice

The best part is that for "women, people of color, and people of gender," the tuition is waived.

45 posted on 04/09/2012 11:49:07 AM PDT by pabianice (")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: pabianice

“Social Justice Education - Ed.D.

Social Justice Education Website

“Social Justice Education is an interdisciplinary program of study with a focus on social diversity and social justice. Social Justice Education provides graduate coursework and opportunities for reflective practice for students concerned with issues of equity, social justice, and the development of a liberated consciousness.

“The Masters program of study focuses upon the reflective practice of social justice education; the Doctoral program of study focuses upon research that is informed by the reflective practice of social justice education. Social Justice Education graduates are employed in a wide variety of community service and university and college settings.”


46 posted on 04/09/2012 11:51:34 AM PDT by pabianice (")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: pabianice

I’m a person of gender...........so I get a free pass?..............


47 posted on 04/09/2012 12:29:21 PM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: ExCTCitizen

OH... it wasn’t dinosaur farts?


48 posted on 04/09/2012 12:56:26 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
I think the point is that orbital fluctuations caused the permafrost to begin melting and that released carbon in the form of methane and other gases that sped up the process in a catastrophic manner.....

All right, Beatrice, there was no alien. The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.


49 posted on 04/09/2012 1:01:38 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Dudoight
Read the original article

I would , but science fiction has so much politics in it lately that it's boring.

50 posted on 04/09/2012 1:05:51 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-57 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson