Study Confirms Direct Link Between CO2 and Antarctic Ice Sheets

Norman Wu's photo essay Life Beneath Antarctic Ice
Photo by Norman Wu

A team of scientists have confirmed a direct link between declining CO2 levels and the formation of Antarctic ice caps some 34 million years ago.

It's kinda like inverse Global Warming. During the Eocene-Oligocene transition atmospheric CO2 levels reached a tipping point of 760 parts per million (ppm) causing the Antarctic ice sheet to form. The biggest climate change since a meteor-sized can of whoopass allegedly took out the dinosaurs.The findings came from a team of scientists from Cardiff, Bristol and Texas A&M; universities who extracted microfossils from rocks in East Africa village of Stakishari. They mapped out large expanses of bush and wilderness to piece together the underlying local rock formations.

Professor Paul Pearson from Cardiff University, who led the mission said: "About 34 million years ago the Earth experienced a mysterious cooling trend. Glaciers and small ice sheets developed in Antarctica, sea levels fell and temperate forests began to displace tropical-type vegetation in many areas."

Co-author Dr Gavin Foster from the University of Bristol Earth Sciences Department said: "By using the rather unique set of samples from Tanzania and a new analytical technique that I developed, we have, for the first time, been able to reconstruct the concentration of CO2 across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary - the time period about 34 million years ago when ice sheets first started to grow on Eastern Antarctica. "

It took a drilling rig and hundreds of meters of samples to find the exact piece of history they were looking for. There's also the part about braving the lions and hyenas of the African wilderness.

Co-author Dr Bridget Wade from Texas A&M; University Department of Geology and Geophysics added: "Our study is the first to provide a direct link between the establishment of an ice sheet on Antarctica and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and therefore confirms the relationship between carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and global climate."

Currently, we are pushing about 400 ppm in atmospheric CO2 levels and undoubtedly disasters like Katrina are the result. Yah, I know...the levees also kinda sucked. But prior to our Industrial Revolution, we were at 275 ppm and I think it's high time we returned.

That said, I think we're decades off from doing scenes from The Day After Tomorrow. In case you've forgotten what a brilliant piece of cinema that movie is, here's a recap.

The Day After Tomorrow

Source: Physorg
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