Current research efforts tend to concentrate on global warming and the impact that a rise of a few degrees might have on past and present day ecosystems. This study shows that if global temperatures swing the other way by a similar amount, the result can be just as severe, at least for marine life.
However, the research team emphasise that the observed changes of the earth system in the Cretaceous happened over millions of years, rather than decades or centennial, which cannot easily be related to our rapidly changing modern climate conditions.
"As always it's a question of fine balance and scale," explains Thomas Wagner, Professor of Earth Systems Science at Newcastle University, and one of the leaders of this study.
"All earth system processes are operating all the time and at different temporal and spatial scales; but when something upsets the balance be it a large scale but long term natural phenomenon or a short and massive change to global greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic activity there are multiple, potential knock-on effects on the whole system.
"The trick is to identify and quantify the initial drivers and consequences, which remains an ongoing challenge in climate research."
|Contact: Thomas Wagner|