Earth’s Oceans – A Mesozoic Hot Tub

Attention alarmists! Here is more evidence that Global Warming is not an artifact of mankind contaminating the environment:

From the Science Blog:

Ancient Oceans Warmer than a Hot Tub

Scientists have found evidence that tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures may have once reached 107°F (42°C) – about 25°F (14°C) higher than ocean temperatures today and warmer than a hot tub. The surprisingly high ocean temperatures, the warmest estimates to date for 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.

Right: a rendition of a super-croc that thrived in very warm waters near land masses during the Mesozoic (Picture credit: Walking With Dinosaurs, BBC)

“These temperatures are off the charts from what we’ve seen before,” said Karen Bice, a paleo climatologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Bice reported the findings Feb. 17, 2006, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis and 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 microscopic marine organisms that had settled and piled up on the seafloor over tens of millions of years. The deeper down in the core the scientists analyzed, the 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 between 91° and 107°F (33° and 42°C) between 84 million and 100 million years ago in an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Temperatures range between 75° and 82°F (24° and 28°C) in the same region now. The approximate uncertainty in the paleotemperature estimates is ~2°C.

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.

Notice that last little tidbit about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. How could the levels possibly be 4 to 8 times greater than their present values? Natural phenomena is the correct answer: Solar x-ray flares, magnetic storms, mass coronal ejections, lightning, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, earth impactors, whatever . . . and certainly not anything from humans since we weren’t invented then.