Abrupt Ocean Acidification Events

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of Ocean and Earth Science


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10 25 50
Description The geological record is rich in examples of climate states and there are a number of abrupt warming and acidification events from which we can draw many parallels with anthropogenic climate change. Although no geological event is as rapid as the current "experiment" we have gained key insights here into how the Earth system works from studying these events. Specifically, we have found that (i) that it was ocean warming that is the key driver of biotic change across the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal Maximum (PETM); (ii) ocean pH and CO2 change was large and rapid across the PETM and middle Eocene Climatic Optimum; (iii) ocean warming was extreme during the PETM; (iv) future pH levels are possibly unprecedented in the last 23 million years.
Exploitation Route We provide essential boundary conditions for several Eocene hyperthermals, these will prove invaluable for future data-model comparisons (e.g. DeepMIP as part of the CMIP; http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/projects?ref=NE/N006828/1).

We also provide the natural baseline for studies of the impact of future ocean acidification.
Sectors Environment

Description This research has contributed to the knowledge base regarding the causes and consequences of climate change. It has also directly fed into the latest IPCC report (of which PI Foster was a contributing author) The research also underpinned a Royal Society Discussion meeting held in September 2017 (http://www.thefosterlab.org/blog/2018/9/4/hyperthermals-insights-into-our-warm-future-from-past-rapid-changes-in-climate)
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Public Engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Following the publication of Gutjahr et al. 2017 in Nature we engaged with the public through the media. Including a piece in the guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/aug/30/volcanic-eruptions-triggered-global-warming-56m-years-ago-study-reveals), BBC radio (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cstzrq) and the Conversation (https://theconversation.com/volcanic-emissions-caused-the-warmest-period-in-past-56m-years-new-study-82354). The latter has nearly 3000 reads.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Royal Society Discussion Meeting on hyperthermals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We held a Royal Society discussion and satellite meeting on Hyperthermals: rapid and extreme global warming in our geological past. The meeting was open to the public and we had over 100 attendees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2017/09/hyperthermals/