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First plants caused ice ages
Date:2/1/2012

to incubators. Over three months they were able to measure the effects the moss had on the chemical weathering of the rocks.

They then used an Earth system model to establish what difference plants could have made to climate change during the Ordovician Period.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter said: "This study demonstrates the powerful effects that plants have on our climate. Although plants are still cooling the Earth's climate by reducing atmospheric carbon levels, they cannot keep up with the speed of today's human-induced climate change. In fact, it would take millions of years for plants to remove current carbon emissions from the atmosphere."

Professor Liam Dolan of Oxford University, one of the lead researchers, said: "For me the most important take-home message is that the invasion of the land by plants a pivotal time in the history of the planet brought about huge climate changes. Our discovery emphasises that plants have a central regulatory role in the control of climate: they did yesterday, they do today and they certainly will in the future."


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Contact: Sarah Hoyle
s.hoyle@exeter.ac.uk
44-013-927-22062
University of Exeter
Source:Eurekalert

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