A pioneering study has revealed a previously unknown mechanism that significantly affects Earth’s climate.
The research was conducted by a Ph.D. at the Hebrew University. Candidate Kaushal Gianchandani, under the guidance of Professor Nathan Baldor and Hezi Gildor of the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University, in collaboration with Professor Uri Adam and Sagi Maor of the Hebrew University, along with Dr. Alexander Farnsworth and Professor David Lunt of University of BristolUnited kingdom.
This cutting-edge research, published in Nature CommunicationsIt applies a new analytical model developed by three Hebrew University researchers two years ago, focusing on wind-driven circulation at the ocean surface and highlighting the pivotal role of ocean basin geometry.
This study explores climate over a period Cretaceous period About 145 to 66 million years ago, when there was a lot of carbon dioxide (warm gas) in the air. It looks at how large ocean eddies, which transport warm water from the tropics to the poles, affect the temperature difference between these two regions. This temperature difference is crucial to understanding why so many different plant and animal species existed during the Cretaceous period.
In their research, the scientists aim to reveal the complex relationship between changes in ocean current patterns (circulation) resulting from the arrangement of continents on Earth and changes in temperature gradients during the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. To do this, they conducted a comprehensive analysis using computer models that simulate ancient climates.
Their findings revealed that the movement of Earth’s continents during the Cretaceous period caused a slowdown in the large eddy ocean currents responsible for transporting warm water from the equator to the poles. This slowdown disrupted the way the ocean regulates its surface temperatures, leading to a significant increase in temperature differences between the poles and the tropics during that period. These results are consistent with geological evidence from the Cretaceous, providing a more comprehensive understanding of past climate dynamics.
- Discovery of a previously unknown mechanism: The study revealed a previously unknown mechanism that significantly influenced Earth’s climate during the Cretaceous period. This mechanism is linked to changes in the distribution of continents, which affects the patterns of ocean currents and their impact on thermal gradients.
- Implications for contemporary climate: While the study focuses primarily on the Cretaceous, it has implications for our understanding of contemporary climate systems. It highlights the importance of ocean eddies (circulation patterns) in shaping climate dynamics, both in the past and today. It highlights the complexity of Earth’s climate and the powerful influence that processes other than carbon dioxide concentration can have on it.
- Focus on the Cretaceous Period: The research focuses primarily on climate during the Cretaceous Period, which occurred about 145 to 66 million years ago. This period is interesting because it was marked by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas that can affect global temperatures.
- The role of ocean eddies (spiral circulation): The study investigates the role of large ocean eddies, known as spiral circulation, in transporting warm water from the tropics to the poles. Understanding how these currents affected temperature differences between the poles and the tropics is crucial to understanding Cretaceous biodiversity and climate.
- Impact of continental movement: Research results indicate that the movement of the Earth’s continents during the Cretaceous period disrupted the large ocean currents responsible for transporting warm water. This disturbance led to significant increases in temperature differences between the poles and the tropics during that period.
- Validation of geological evidence: The study results are consistent with geological evidence from the Cretaceous, providing further support for the proposed mechanisms and enhancing our understanding of past climate dynamics.
In short, this research helps us gain insight into the complex relationship between ocean circulation patterns, equator-to-pole temperature differences, and past climate conditions. While it contributes primarily to our understanding of Earth’s ancient climate, it also underscores the importance of oceanic processes in shaping contemporary climate systems. This knowledge can help model and predict the impacts of climate change in the modern era, as ocean circulation patterns continue to play a crucial role in regulating global climate.
Reference: “Effects of paleogeographic changes and carbon dioxide variability on northern midlatitude temperature gradients in the Cretaceous” by Kushal Gianchandani, Saji Maur, Uri Adam, Alexander Farnsworth, Hezi Gildor, and Daniel J. Lunt and Nathan Baldor, August 25, 2023, Nature Communications.
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