Shift in Gulf stream could be deadly
Published: Monday, May 10, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 10, 2010 02:05
An asteroid might not have been the reason for the dinosaurs' extinction.
New research by Dr. Gregory Price of Plymouth University, who has been studying fossils and minerals from Arctic Svalbard, shows that a change in the Atlantic Gulf Stream may have led to the wipe out of dinosaurs.
"World's seas plummeted 9 degrees Celsius from 13 degrees Celsius to just 4 degrees Celsius around 137 million years ago," according to the dailymail.co.uk. The findings were published in the newspaper on April 23 when Price spoke to the publication.
Price and Dr. Elizabeth Nunn of Johannes Gutenburg Universitat in Mainz, Germany, have been studying in the Arctic Svalbard since 2005.
According to the research update on Plymouth University's website, the Svalbard is "in an area famed for a number of paleontological discoveries, including giant marine reptiles such as pliosaurs and icthyosaurs." During the Cretaceous period, the area was filled with dinosaurs and had warm, shallow seas and swamps.
While scientists have long attributed the extinction of the dinosaurs to an asteroid or comet impact, this new research reveals that it was a series of environmental changes beginning with a drop in sea temperature in the Cretaceous period that led to extinction.
The plunge in temperature is attributed to high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere that caused global warming, similar to the earth's current situation now.
"The drop in temperatures may well have been caused by a change in ocean circulation, much like what is being predicted for the Gulf Stream," said Price in The Daily Mail. "We believe dinosaurs were most likely to be cold-blooded creatures and would have needed the warmth to keep them alive. If they were unable to migrate south, they could have been wiped out."
Price and his staff brought the evidence back to Plymouth to be analyzed.
There is evidence to suggest that this change in climate can occur again, except less abruptly.
According to the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution, "Abrupt regional cooling and gradual global warming can unfold simultaneously ... greenhouse warming is a destabilizing factor that makes abrupt climate change more probable."