London. A team of international scientists has discovered the reason behind one of the fastest and most dangerous instances of climate change in Earth’s history, which occurred 55 million years ago.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that high levels of mercury caused the Paleocene-Eocene (PETM, for its short) temperature maximum, an intense global warming lasting about 150,000 years and that led to significant increases in temperature.
The researchers found that amounts of mercury, detected in well-preserved North Sea sediment core samples, declined during the early stages of abrupt climate change, suggesting that some other carbon pool emitted significant greenhouse gases as the phenomenon progressed.
These gases were released by large volcanic eruptions, which are also responsible for the dispersal of the mercury, so the scientists set out to measure the mercury and carbon in the sediment core to detect any ancient volcanic activity.
“The surprise was that we did not find a simple relationship to the increase in volcanic activity during the release of greenhouse gases,” noted in the statement of study co-author Seif Kinder, from the University of Exeter, who referred to the hypothesis that there was a second source of gases after volcanic activity.
According to the scientists, the research, which also involved experts from the British Geological Survey, the University of Oxford, Heriot-Watt University and the University of California, Riverside, could open new avenues for study of how modern climate change affects the Earth. for centuries to come.
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