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Picture of the Day

How undersea gases once helped superheat the planet

The world's oceans could harbor an unpleasant surprise for climate change, based on new research that shows how naturally occurring carbon gases trapped in reservoirs atop the seafloor escaped to superheat the planet in prehistory. Scientists say events that began on the ocean bottom thousands of years ago so disrupted the Earth's atmosphere that it melted away the ice age. Those new findings challenge a long-standing paradigm that ocean water alone regulated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during glacial cycles. Instead, the study shows geologic processes can dramatically upset the carbon cycle and cause global change.

Visit Website | Image credit: Bob Embley/NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration