55 million years ago: Crocodiles & Palm trees in Arctic?

There is this idea amongst Denialists that climatologists don’t seem to know that Co2 levels have been higher in the past. According to the Denialist, not only is a climatologist a mad scientist already involved in the most successful world conspiracy of all time, with an evil agenda to create a COMMUNIST WORLD GOVERNMENT! (“Oh the humanity!“) but they can also seem to picture them as bumbling baffoons that don’t even know their own craft? How are they both the brilliant perpetrators of a world conspiracy and absolute morons that don’t know the history of earth’s climate as well? Oh the mind of a Denialist, who can fathom their ways?

Last year, the same group of researchers showed in Nature that tropical algae migrated into the Arctic Ocean during the PETM, when temperatures rose to 24oC. Current climate models are not capable of simulating such high temperatures in the Arcti, which has repercussions for the predictions of future climate change. In addition to Al Gore’s presentation, this type of research shows what a greenhouse world looks like, including palm trees and crocodiles in the Arctic.

via Climatic Chain Reaction Caused Runaway Greenhouse Effect 55 Million Years Ago.

The wiki also has an interesting introduction.

The Paleocene/Eocene boundary, 55.8 million years ago, was marked by the most rapid and significant climatic disturbance of the Cenozoic Era. A sudden global warming event, leading to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, alternatively “Eocene thermal maximum 1” (ETM1), and formerly known as the “Initial Eocene” or “Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum”,[1] (IETM/LPTM)), is associated with changes in oceanic and atmospheric circulation, the extinction of numerous deep-sea benthic foraminifera, and a major turnover in mammalian life on land which is coincident with the emergence of many of today’s major mammalian orders.

The event saw global temperatures rise by around 6°C (11°F) over 20,000 years, with a corresponding rise in sea level as the whole of the oceans warmed.[2] Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations rose, causing a shallowing of the lysocline. Regional deep water anoxia may have played a part in marine extinctions. The event is linked to a negative excursion in the δ13C isotope record, which occurs in two short (~1,000 year) pulses. These probably represent degassing of clathrates (“methane ice” deposits), which accentuated a pre-existing warming trend. The release of these clathrates, and ultimately the event itself, may have been triggered by a range of causes. However, an alternative mechanism has also been proposed.[3]

via Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Also very good on this is the free online movie Crude, the Incredible Journey of oil

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2 Responses to 55 million years ago: Crocodiles & Palm trees in Arctic?

  1. Of course more interesting than what caused this temperature fluctuation and the way Co2 in particular may have reinforced it is why it stopped and how come CO2 didn’t stop it from going down again?

    It is interesting no definitive reason is given for either the increase in temperature or decrease. The use of plant and animal productivity doesn’t ring well as we don’t really know how much life existed before and after or during this period. It is interesting that even with a 11 degree C increase in temperature terrestrial life blossomed and apes appeared for the first time.

    It is apparent to me that such a temperature rise is consistent with unknown deep ocean possibilities as well as sun variations. The oceans contain 300 times the heat content of the atmosphere so even a small change in ocean temperatures can generate massive changes in temperatures. It is easy to imagine that changes in currents or heat coming from the earth into the ocean through some giant break in the crust at the bottom of the ocean – really any small change in the flow of the ocean could easily cause massive changes in atmospheric temperature. Maybe an asteroid ripped a hole in the crust allowing massive release of magma into the ocean. Possibly it is just a change in current from a big comet hit or any number of reasons the water might have gotten warmer causing the extinction of ocean life and the extra heat apparently was positive effect on life above water. How odd because we are told heat will kill life and cause extinctions yet this heating caused a massive proliferation of life above the ocean.

    What is also interesting is that this massive increase in life is posited as the reason for the decline in temperature. It is really the burying of carbon in the form of dying plants and animals that caused the removal of carbon and CO2 from the system. If co2 is related to heat then the growth in life wouldn’t have caused a decrease in temperatures because all that carbon based life would have made the CO2 be present in the environment and until life died and was buried did the CO2 possibly get removed from the system. Also, this means life evolved under a high Co2 regimen which means it is unlikely high co2 is bad for life.

    Overall it is hard to see how Co2 could be a culprit in large climate change either way. It didn’t cause the temperature rise, we don’t have any direct evidence it enhanced temperatures any and it apparently had minimal effect on the reduction in temperatures.

  2. eclipsenow says:

    It is apparent to me that such a temperature rise is consistent with unknown deep ocean possibilities as well as sun variations.

    LogicLogic, you repeatedly make these sorts of assertions without linking to any peer reviewed material. I don’t want to appear to be hampering free speech, but as I have repeatedly requested you back up previous assertions on my blog with peer reviewed science, and you have repeatedly refused to do so, you are on notice.

    I don’t have *time* to try and chase down refutations to every cheap shot and silly assertion you make.
    EG: In our previous discussions I have linked to ELE events caused by global warming. Life HAS NOT always flourished in times of global warming in the deep past.

    In summary: Cold is bad, warm is good, “hot” is also very bad!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/crude/

    If you want your comments to to stay on my blog, please don’t behave like a troll. You just repeatedly assert stuff without backing it up. You have repeated the “life always thrives when it is hot” myth on previous threads without backing it up, even when asked to, repeatedly! Most science forums I visit would require this simple courtesy, and start to suspect you an internet troll on your refusing this simple request on the 3rd or 4th such request.

    This the 4th time I have requested source materials for your claims, and this “life thrives when it is hot” claim. You are on notice.

    Relevant source materials please, that demonstrate more complex life and more complex ecosystems develop as a result of it being hotter than today, or I will be deleting this comment. My blog, my rules, it’s that simple.

    If co2 is related to heat then the growth in life wouldn’t have caused a decrease in temperatures because all that carbon based life would have made the CO2 be present in the environment and until life died and was buried did the CO2 possibly get removed from the system.

    I’m not even quite sure what you are trying to say here. There’s both a shift in the grammar and a logical problem with this statement… one thing doesn’t lead into the next clearly. Please try again, and I’ll see if I can catch what you are saying.

    But CO2 IS RELATED TO HEAT, there’s no IF about it, unless you want to reverse everything we know about physics and spectrometry? The “Life evolved under higher Co2” statement might be true, but we’re talking about bacteria and crude organisms surviving in a fairly hot environment, not the complex and very fragile ecosystems that we see ON THE MOVE today! What time does spring start now compared to 2 decades ago? What time are certain moth eggs hatching, and does it coincide with the new leaf growth that they feed on? How are birds being affected by the lack of moth food in the system as various seasonal timing is thrown out of synchronisation? You don’t seem to have the most basic of basic introductions to global warming, and the MEASURABLE changes in the world’s ecosystems as a response, so I suggest picking up Tim Flannery’s “Weather Makers” and reading that introduction to global warming for dummies, before posting here again.

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