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ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES LEAD TO THE EXTINCTION OF SPECIES
June 21, 2012
UTA Scientists Dr. Arne Winguth and Dr. Cornelia Winguth published a recent Geology paper in March 2012 about how environmental changes could have lead to extinctions of species during past hot house climates .The Cenozoic era, the last 65 million years of Earth's history, is an ideal geologic time interval to understand key relationshipsbetween the climate and the global carbon cycle. One of the most prominent global warming events in the Cenozoic occurred at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (55 Ma), referred to as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), and is characterized by rapid perturbations of the global carbon cycle and a wide-spread extinction of deep-sea foraminifera. In this study they explored together with Ellen Thomas from Yale University the environmental changes caused by a massive carbon input at the PETM by comparing sedimentary records with results from a comprehensive climate-carbon cycle model. The climate simulations indicate that the extinction of deep-sea foraminifera at the PETM was probably caused by multiple environmental changes, including ocean acidification, lowered oxygen levels in the deep-sea, and a globally reduced food supply.