CODY — As the planet enters a new phase of climate change, scientists in two countries are working with core samples drilled in Wyoming to understand what caused a pattern of runaway warming, sometimes called the “fever period,” 56 million years ago. For reasons unknown, during the transition between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs, a sudden surge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere prompted an extreme version of global warming, producing droughts and floods, widespread species extinctions and a redistribution of planetary life.
Whatever caused the mass release of C02 remains a mystery. Scientists wonder if it could happen again, and if the human release of C02, now estimated at 300 billion tons over the past two centuries, could help trigger another period of runaway warming.
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