The amount of carbon in the oceans could reach, in the year 2100, the limit above which was already sufficient for past mass extinctions.
The amount of carbon in the oceans may reach, in 2100, the limit above which mass extinctions have occurred in the past. This is what warns American researchers, who used a mathematical model to predict what they called the “catastrophe threshold”.
According to Geophysics professor Daniel Rothman, 310 giga tons, I will be the maximum carbon the oceans can withstand before the sudden release of this gas to alter the environment in order to cause mass extinctions that can take place for hundreds of years.
“This does not mean that the disaster will happen the next day”, he said, pointing out that “the carbon cycle would become unstable and behave in an unpredictable way”, which “in the geological past, is associated with mass extinctions”.
Rothman estimates that at the rate at which human activity produces carbon, the 310 giga tons will be hit by the turn of the century.
Over 540 million years ago, five mass extinctions occurred on Earth, each marked by the disturbance of the carbon cycle through the atmosphere and oceans. All these disturbances have been occurring for thousands or even millions of years, and coincide with the marks of the extinction of marine species all over the planet.
In a study published in the journal Science Advances, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher claims to have identified a “catastrophe threshold” in extinctions that have already occurred, thus establishing that what matters is not the amount of time that delayed disturbances in the carbon cycle, but the amount of carbon in question.
According to the worst predictions, the level of carbon in the oceans could be much higher than the limit set by Rothman, which could reach 500 giga tonnes. “It should be possible to step back into carbon dioxide emissions”, Rothman said, noting that his research “points to reasons why care needs to be taken”.