Oxygen Isotope Excursions Record Extreme Tropical Heat in the Permian Triassic Extinction Eventby Tommy on 18/10/2012
Lethally hot temperatures during the early Triassic greenhouse, Yadong Sun, Michael M. Joachimski, Paul B. Wignall, Chunbo Yan, Yanlong Chen, Haishui Jiang, Lina Wang, Xulong Lai, Science, 338, 6105, 366-370, 19 October 2012
Global warming is widely regarded to have played a contributing role in numerous past biotic crises. Here, we show that the end-Permian mass extinction coincided with a rapid temperature rise to exceptionally high values in the Early Triassic that were inimical to life in equatorial latitudes and suppressed ecosystem recovery. This was manifested in the loss of calcareous algae, the near-absence of fish in equatorial Tethys, and the dominance of small taxa of invertebrates during the thermal maxima. High temperatures drove most Early Triassic plants and animals out of equatorial terrestrial ecosystems and probably were a major cause of the end-Smithian crisis.
Life in the Early Triassic Ocean, David J. Bottjer, Science, 338, 6105, 336-337, 19 October 2012
In the next 100 years, it is projected that Earth will move to a greenhouse climate state. The future ocean will not only be hotter but also more acidic and will contain extended zones with reduced oxygen. Study of past periods of global warming helps to project what Earth and its biota will be like in this new state and what the journey to that state will entail. On page 366 in this issue, Sun et al. show that beginning with the end-Permian mass extinction (∼252.6 million years ago) and continuing for the next 5 million years, Earth’s oceans were extremely hot, with stressful and commonly lethal effects on ocean life.