Warm­ing warn­ing

The West Australian - - NEWS -

An episode of ex­treme global warm­ing that left ocean an­i­mals un­able to breathe caused the big­gest mass ex­tinc­tion in the Earth’s his­tory, re­search has shown.

The ex­tinc­tion event at the end of the Per­mian pe­riod 252 mil­lion years ago wiped out 96 per cent of all ma­rine species and 70 per cent of land-dwelling ver­te­brates.

Sci­en­tists have linked what has be­come known as the Great Dy­ing with a se­ries of mas­sive vol­canic erup­tions in Siberia that filled the at­mos­phere with green­house gas.

What made the oceans so in­hos­pitable to life has re­mained unan­swered un­til now.

The study, re­ported in the jour­nal Sci­ence, sug­gests that as tem­per­a­tures soared the warmer wa­ter could not hold enough oxy­gen for most ma­rine crea­tures to sur­vive.

Lessons from the Great Dy­ing have ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions for the fate of to­day’s warm­ing world, the US sci­en­tists said.

If green­house gas emis­sions con­tinue unchecked, ocean warm­ing could reach 20 per cent of the level ex­pe­ri­enced in the late Per­mian by 2100.

By 2300, it could reach be­tween 35 per cent and 50 per cent of the Great Dy­ing ex­treme.

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