Unless drastic measures to combat climate change are not put in place, we may end up in a worse-than-imagined situation, as can be seen by the natural disasters being reported from all around the world. A new study has discovered that rising temperatures on the planet, or global warming, sets off a chain of events that only lead to more warming.
A duo of researchers at MIT studied deep-sea benthic foraminifera in sediments and statistical data for millions of years. Benthic foraminifera is a single-celled organism found in various marine ecosystems. The study has discovered a ‘warming bias’ in the climate of the planet. It suggests that even a small incident that contributes to warming, such as a volcano eruption, could lead to changes that could contribute to more warming.
They also found that in the Cenozoic era, warming periods were more prolonged than cooling periods. These warming periods are said to have reduced about five million years ago with the formation of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. The exact effects of the appearance of these ice sheets on climate are not yet known. But there are concerns that current climate conditions may kick the ‘multiplier effect’ back into gear, leading to increased warming.
“The Northern Hemisphere’s ice sheets are shrinking, and could potentially disappear as a long-term consequence of human actions,” said Constantin Arnscheidt, lead author and a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “Our research suggests that this may make the Earth’s climate fundamentally more susceptible to extreme, long-term global warming events such as those seen in the geologic past.”
The team also found a slight correlation between the climate fluctuations and the orbit of the Earth. Over longer periods of time, the orbit of the Earth has become more or less elliptical. “If we consider a multiplicative model, then modest warming, paired with this multiplier effect, can result in extreme events that tend to occur at the same time as these orbital changes,” said co-author Daniel Rothman, professor of geophysics at MIT.
The results of this study have been published in the Science Advances journal.
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