Israeli scientists link dinosaur-era ocean swirls, modern climate change

Israeli scientists link dinosaur-era ocean currents to modern climate challenges

Researchers from the Hebrew University have uncovered an ancient climate mechanism dating back to the dinosaur era that may offer insights into modern-day climate change.

Published in Nature Communications, the study delves into the effects of “gyral circulation,” which are large oceanic swirls that carried warm water from the tropics to the poles during the Cretaceous period, spanning from 145 to 66 million years ago. The era is of particular interest to climate scientists due to the elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and the biodiversity it supported.

CO2 is a primary greenhouse gas associated with contemporary climate change.

Using a newly devised analytic model, the team analyzed the influence of wind on the surface circulation of oceans during this ancient era.

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To gain insights, the team employed computer simulations to reconstruct ancient climatic conditions. Their results indicated that during the Cretaceous period, the shifting of Earth’s continents led to a reduction in the intensity of major ocean currents that transported warm waters from the equator to the poles.

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The university highlighted that this weakening of oceanic currents disrupted the oceans’ capacity to regulate surface temperatures, thereby amplifying temperature disparities between the poles and the tropics.

The study’s findings are consistent with existing geological data from the Cretaceous period, offering a holistic view of historical climate trends, as per Hebrew University.

While the research sheds light on the historical influence of ocean basin structures, it also emphasizes the pivotal role oceans play in the modern climate system. The researchers stress the importance of understanding ocean circulation patterns, which remain integral, yet occasionally underemphasized, in determining global climate shifts.

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