In a new study climate change might be far worse than thought.
The new information challenges the way researchers have worked out sea temperatures until now. This means that the temperatures may be increasing quicker than previously thought. The methodology generally used by the scientific community may be based on a mistake and so our understanding of climate change may be seriously flawed.
The new research suggests that hundreds of millions of years ago the oceans were much cooler than previously thought. If true then the global warming we are experiencing is unparallelled within the last 100 million years, and far worse than previously calculated.
The belief is that the ocean depths, and the surface of the polar ocean 100 million years ago were about 15 degrees warmer than they are today. But..they might have remained relatively stable, making the warming at present far more alarming.
Oceans cover 70% of the planet and play an important role in the climate. Knowing the extent to which their temperatures have changed over time is critical to understanding where we are headed.
The new study scientists have been reviewing shows we have been overlooking crucial processes when the temperature of the oceans from millions of years ago were gauged. Leading to the belief that they were warmer than they actually were. Temperatures have been calculated by studying the fossils of tiny marine organisms found in the sediment on the ocean floor. The shells of these small creatures takes on an oxygen isotope depending on how warm the water is. By looking at the oxygen content the temperature can be estimated when they were alive. This has led scientists to believe the sea temps have fallen by 15 degrees over the last 100 million years.
The new research shows that the amount of oxygen in those shells doesn’t actually remain constant over time, and the change can happen without any visible trace that would alert researchers to that change.
The perfectly preserved fossil may in fact not be so well-preserved and the estimates of paleotemps are now incorrect.
The French and Swiss research team behind the new work are hard at it to try to decide the proper paleotemps. More marine life found in the core sediments are being studied so we can clearly understand what took place in the sediment over geological time.