Monday, September 24, 2012

Earth’s geological past can give clues for future climate

Climate change threat is looming large and many scientists from all over the world are involved into making future climate predictions. Climate change is multidimensional issue that includes various different factors which makes it extremely difficult for scientists to accurately predict future climate. Recently, however, many scientists have turned their focus in studying earth's past as a way to help gather the data that should give them clues in predicting future changes.

Our planet's geological past is one of the best ways in obtaining clues. As Dr. Wan Yang from the Missouri University of Science and Technology said :“ The formation of rocks has everything to do with climate.“

He further explained this by saying that „different climate settings have different sediments, soil types and vegetation“, all of which can be used as valuable guide in scientific efforts to predict future climate.

Yang did most of the field work in northwest China because it's one of the few places to have an ancient land record, dating all the way back from Pangea, the supercontinent that existed between 200 million and 350 million years ago.

This period is very interesting to climate change scientists because approximately 250 million years ago, the greatest mass extinction in the Earth's history occurred, and scientists are still searching for a strong link between climate change and this huge loss of species.

There have been plenty of different theories discussing this mass extinction event but science still can't be sure about what were the real causes that caused this huge loss of our planet's biodiversity.

The currently dominant scientific theory is that 250 million years ago the Earth's climate shifted from icehouse to greenhouse and remained in greenhouse state for about 230 million years, returning back to icehouse state roughly 30 million years ago.