Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

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Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Climate change over the last 65 million years. Note the PETM spike at ~56 Mya. This image is an original work created for Global Warming Art.

The Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum was a 'blip' in the smooth running of Earth's environment and climate that took place about 56 million years ago (see image to right). It is of great significance because it most probably represents the closest analogue to the changes being forced on the Earth at present by humanity. If we can work out what happened at the PETM, then it will most likely be very useful in helping us understand what is likely to happen in the future.

Paleoclimatologists have collected large amounts of evidence about what happened at the PETM, both on land and also in the oceans. It seems clear that there was rapid and considerable global warming by about 5C. There is also evidence of ocean acidification, although this evidence needs to be carefully interpreted. Many species of benthic foraminifera went extinct. There was both rapid extinction and speciation (birth of new species) among mammals.

You can use the carbon model to explore some aspects of this event.

A first

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External links

Further Reading