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Analyzing our Geologic Past to Inform the Present
Mysterious and abrupt changes in the ocean's store of carbon have occurred intermittently throughout Earth's history. Each of these disruptions coincides with significant climate change. Mass extinctions are always accompanied by such events.
What causes these disruptions? Professor Rothman suggests that an influx of carbon dioxide that exceeds a critical rate instigates non-linear responses in Earth's carbon cycle. His analysis of the geologic record supports this hypothesis and he has created a model of an excitable carbon cycle that suggests how it works. Both show how to rescale the slow critical rates of the geologic past to inform our understanding of long-term risks posed by the fast pace of modern environmental change.
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