Scientists behind a new study have found a connection between acidic oceans created by massive carbon dioxide spewing volcanic eruptions and the greatest mass extinction in history— the Great Dying, which occurred 252 million years ago.
The Great Dying resulted in the loss of over 90 percent of the world’s marine life hundreds of millions of years ago and now researchers behind this new study, which was published in the journal Science, have found what may be the first hard evidence that ocean acidification was behind the mass extinction of aquatic life on Earth.
The dramatic acidification of the oceans near the end of the Permian period came as a result of a continuous series of super-volcano eruptions which created carbon dioxide (CO2) at a rate which Professor Rachel Wood of the University of Edinburgh referred to as “the same as the one to which we are exposing the ocean to today,” according to The Independent.
The important take-home message of this is that the rate of increase of CO2 during the Permian mass extinction is about the same rate as the one to which we are exposing the ocean to today […] We have found that the oceans 252 million years ago experienced dramatic acidification and that this coincided with a significant rise in carbon dioxide levels. The data is compelling and we really should be worried in term of what is happening today
Nature News indicated in a report that today’s oceans are becoming increasingly acidic as a result of the large amount of CO2 presently produced by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels.
The recent study only accounts for the second wave of extinction, that of marine life, which occurred during the Great Dying.
The team of researchers behind the study can’t offer a definitive explanation for what caused the first phase of the world’s greatest extinction.
What are your thoughts on the implications of this current study?