by Charles the moderator , July 6, 2019 in WUWT
Higher reactivity could explain temperature drop before last ice age
GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre
From time to time, there have been long periods of cooling in Earth’s history. Temperatures had already fallen for more than ten million years before the last ice age began about 2.5 million years ago. At that time the northern hemisphere was covered with massive ice masses and glaciers. A geoscientific paradigm, widespread for over twenty years, explains this cooling with the formation of the large mountain ranges such as the Andes, the Himalayas and the Alps. As a result, more rock weathering has taken place, the paradigm suggests. This in turn removed more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, so that the ‘greenhouse effect’ decreased and the atmosphere cooled. This and other processes eventually led to the ‘ice Age’.
In a new study, Jeremy Caves-Rugenstein from ETH Zurich, Dan Ibarra from Stanford University and Friedhelm von Blanckenburg from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam were able to show that this paradigm cannot be upheld. According to the paper, weathering was constant over the period under consideration. Instead, increased ‘reactivity’ of the land surface has led to a decrease in CO2 in the atmosphere, thus cooling the Earth. The researchers published the results in the journal Nature.