EOS wrote about us…

LUCAS JOEL writes:

In 1981 geologists proposed that the chemical weathering of rocks like granite can draw the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and, in the process, cool Earth. As cooling progressed, chemical weathering reaction rates would decrease, more CO2 would remain in the air, and warming of the planet would begin again. Although this sort of natural “thermostat” could help explain such puzzles as why CO2 from volcanic eruptions does not accumulate in the atmosphere unceasingly, physical evidence for a mechanism that moderates the planet’s temperature has been lacking.

But new research presented on 14 August at the Goldschmidt2017 conference in Paris showcased telltale chemical data from ancient rocks. The data indicate that falling temperatures during a glaciation about 445 million years ago triggered a process leading to a period of renewed warming, much like a chilly afternoon might trigger your thermostat to turn on the furnace for the night.

Combining these new findings with prior modeling studies, “for the first time we have actual empirical data for the thermostat, and therefore of the mechanism that keeps the Earth habitable,” isotope geochemist Philip Pogge von Strandmann of the University College London in the United Kingdom, who led the new research, told Eos.

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