Modelling an Extinction

8 Dec 2018

The end of Permian mass extinction event was caused by global warming - see ... fossils in ancient seafloor rocks dispaly a thriving and diverse marine ecosystem - followed by a swathe of corpses in the next screen shot of the event. Firstly, how did a thriving and diverse ecosystem become fossilised. What is the mechanism for this - as we are talking about deep water environments. What divides the thriving rocks from the rocks full of corpses. Have they realistically defined the situation or are they constructing a theory. What exactly is the dividing line between the two - and what has geochronology to say about the time scale between the two situations, thriving and death.

Research using models has come up trumps (pun intended) - global warming. The study is published in the journal Science (December 7th 2018) and the intriguing point to note is the researchers use a climate model of what is thought to be the Earth's configuration during the Permian - the Pangea land mass surrounded by a big ocean. Next, they input the idea that increasing levels of co2 coincides with a warming planet - when this has failed to materialise in the modern world. Atmospheric levels of co2 have been increasing year on year but temperatures have remained more or less static since the mid 2000s. In addition, they claim oceans of the time had temperatures and oxygen levels similar to the modern world. However, it is then theorised that co2 emissions as a result of volcanic activity, and other means, enhanced ocean temperatures by 10 degrees C. This is then said to be the situation when the ocean contained all those corpses - suitablly fossilised we may note, and failing to rot away, the skeletons preserved for posterity. Modelling in this way they produced climatic results. Large parts of the ocean depths must have become oxygen poor. This, they claim, created the corpses.

Modelling climate is not very successful. We have loads of climate models and very few of them, if any, coincide with actual observations outside the window of the computer rooms. Neither do they conform with satellite data which has just been celebrating its 40th birthday. Not in any way whatsoever - see ... (but see also ...). The problems with this study are obvious. Not least the fact that whatever is factored into the input of the model is what determines the answer. It is a computer regurgitating what climate scientists feed the computer. Any other explanation for the extinction event is absent. Not a hint of uncertainty on what might have instigated such an event and created all those fossils, alive and  dead (but are the thriving ones not dead as well). Later, the Siberian Traps are mentioned - part of the end of Permian event (but not necessarily what caused it). Volcanic activity spews lots of aerosols into the atmosphere and this generally causes global cooling rather than warming. The Traps are thought to have lasted for hundreds of years - and some geologists even think in terms of thousands of years of continuous or recurring activity. That means hundreds if not thousands of years of cooling - so what caused the warming (or it that guesswork).