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Warmer than a Hot Tub: Atlantic Ocean Temperatures Much Higher in the Past

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Old February 20th 06, 11:35 PM posted to sci.geo.geology,sci.astro,sci.space.policy
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Default Warmer than a Hot Tub: Atlantic Ocean Temperatures Much Higher in the Past

"George" wrote in message

Scientists have found evidence that tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures
may have once reached 107F (42C)-about 25F (14C) higher than ocean
temperatures today and warmer than a hot tub.

The surprisingly high ocean temperatures, the warmest estimates to date

any place on Earth, occurred millions of year ago when carbon dioxide
levels in Earth's atmosphere were also high, but researchers say they may
be an indication that greenhouse gases could heat the oceans in the future
much more than currently anticipated. The study suggests that climate
models underestimate future warming.

The big problem in predicting the future of our climate is that
the earth now has all these intelligent critters running around.
With the ability and self interest in altering the biosphere
in ways far stronger and faster than is usual.

So in the future, life will play a far larger role in climate change
than ever before. The primary variable that determines
whether our future climate is hell or heaven lies with the
kind of societies that dominate.

Adaptive or rigid?
Natural or man-made?
Democracy or dictatorship?
Rule by the many, or the few?

The latter kind gave us the last century...nuff said.
The former is characterized by countless and
overlapping self correcting mechanisms.

One destroys, the other coverges on optimum solutions.

In short, this issue of climate change is best predicted
through politics. The future is seen in places like
Beijing and Baghdad. Will they fall to the people and
spread freedom far and wide? Or not?

The question, with climate change, is .."when will freedom ring"?
The answers will be found by dissidents, poets and the like
As the recent uproar in Islam shows, massed emotions
can be powerful forces of change. And can be evoked
by the smallest event or image....thoughtfully designed
and placed.

Maybe soon, very soon, a simple wave of the hand will change
our climate to 'ideal' forever. Something as trifling
as this ...maybe..just might be enough.


"Polls have indicated that their demonstration was the
6th most memorable event of the 20th century"

The point is this, the world is now what we make it.
All we really have to do is want it bad enough, a bright
future that is, and it'll happen.



"These temperatures are off the charts from what we've seen before," said
Karen Bice, a paleoclimatologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
(WHOI). Bice reported the findings Feb. 17 at the annual meeting of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis

is also lead author of a study to be published in an upcoming issue of the
journal Paleoceanography, published by the American Geophysical Union.

Bice and a multi-institutional team of scientists studied three long
columns of sediment cored from the seafloor in 2003 off Suriname, on the
northeast coast of South America, by the drillship JOIDES Resolution,
operated by the international Ocean Drilling Program.

The sediments contained an unusually rich and well-preserved accumulation
of both carbon-rich organic matter and the fossilized shells of

marine organisms that had settled and piled up on the seafloor over tens

millions of years. The deeper down in the core the scientists analyzed,

further back in time they went.

The team analyzed the shells' isotopic and trace element chemistry, which
changes along with temperature changes in the surface waters where they
lived. They determined that ocean temperatures in the region ranged

91 and 107F (33 and 42C) between 84 million and 100 million years ago
in an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Temperatures range between 75
and 82F (24 and 28C) in the same region now. The approximate

in the paleotemperature estimates is +/-2C.

Using organic matter from the sediments, the group also estimated
atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations during the same time span. They
were 1,300 to 2,300 parts per million (ppm), compared with 380 ppm today.

The findings, if confirmed, create a dilemma for scientists seeking to
forecast how Earth's climate and environment will change in response to

rising amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused

deforestation and the burning of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. When
1,300 to 2,300 ppm of carbon dioxide is factored into current computer
models that simulate global climate, it does not produce such high ocean

"The climate models underestimate temperatures and the amount of warming
that would accompany an increase in CO2 of more than 1,000 ppm above

level." Bice said..

If the scientists' interpretations of past ocean temperatures and carbon
dioxide levels prove accurate, actual future warming from elevated
atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations may be much greater than
predicted by the models, the scientists reported.

"One of the most important impacts this evidence suggests is the change to
the Earth' hydrologic cycle," Bice said. "Higher tropical temperatures

increase the intensity of hurricanes and winter storms. In addition,
precipitation patterns will change, moving even more rain that now falls

the central U.S. - an area known as the breadbasket of the U.S. for its
food production - to higher latitudes where the quality of the soil may

be as conducive to agriculture"

"Policymakers use these models to predict likely climate change with
increasing CO2 levels, and if the models are not right, society is not

informed or well served."

Alternatively, the models used to predict future climate may be missing a
critical factor that amplifies heating, Bice said. During past warm
periods, oceans and wetlands may have released much more methane gas to

atmosphere. Methane traps heat 10 times more effectively than carbon

However, extraordinarily high concentrations of methane in the model still
fail to produce the tropical Atlantic and Arctic Ocean temperatures
inferred for 91 million years ago. This supports the idea that the model's
response to increased greenhouse gas concentrations underestimates the
actual climate system's response.

Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


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