Climate Change and the dinosaurs

The prevailing theory (on Dino extinction) is said to be a comet/meteor strike, evidenced in the KT Iridium layer, found worldwide. This study though suggests that even though CO2 was high during the Cretaceous, it could still turn cold abruptly. Obviously a stronger forcing of some kind operated then.

Smoking gun for dinosaurs' demise

K-T Boundary with 1-inch iridium layer (arrow) exposed 10 miles west of Trinidad, Colorado. The element iridium is very rare on Earth but concentrated in meteors and comets. The same iridium layer is found in several exposures around the world, and corresponds age-wise with that of the Chicxulub meteor crater in Mexico's Yucutan Peninsula. Image via Science buzz

Image above: more info

From a Plymouth University Press Release

Scientists identify freezing times for Cretaceous dinosaurs

Summary

Scientists studying fossils and minerals from Arctic Svalbard, in Norway, have discovered evidence that the ‘greenhouse’ climate of the Cretaceous period was punctuated by a sudden drop in global temperatures.

Further detail

The drop is estimated to have occurred some 137 million years ago during a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and would have seen the islands fall from an average of 13 degrees centigrade (ocean temperature) to as low as four degrees.

The findings, which were published in the journal Geology and featured as a highlight in Nature Geoscience, will further contribute to the debate over climate change as they appear to contradict the common model which links high levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – as recorded in the Cretaceous era – with reduced polar ice caps.

Despite being located in the Arctic Circle, Svalbard was home to numerous species of dinosaur and was typically characterised by warm, shallow seas and swamps.

But the research team, led by Dr Gregory Price of the University of Plymouth, found evidence in fossils and carbonate materials preserved in marine rocks in the region of a transient shift to cooler glacial conditions around 137 million years ago.

Dr Price said: “At certain times in the geological past, the world has been dominated by greenhouse conditions with elevated CO2 levels and warm Polar Regions, and hence, these are seen as analogues of future global climate.

“But this research suggests that for short periods of time the Earth plunged back to colder temperatures, which not only poses interesting questions in terms of how the dinosaurs might have coped, but also over the nature of climate change itself.”

Dr Price, along with Dr Elizabeth Nunn, of Johannes Gutenburg Universitat in Mainz, Germany, first visited Svalbard in 2005 to collect fossils and samples, in an area famed for a number of paleontological discoveries, including giant marine reptiles such as pliosaurs and icthyosaurs.

The samples were analysed back in Plymouth and prompted return trips to the area to gather more evidence.

“The flourishing of the dinosaurs and a range of other data indicates that the Cretaceous period was considerably warmer and boasted a high degree of CO2 in the atmosphere,” said Dr Price.

“But over a period of a few hundred or a few thousand years, ocean temperatures fell from an average of 13 degrees centigrade to between eight and four degrees.

“Although a short episode of cool polar conditions is potentially at odds with a high CO2 world, our data demonstrates the variability of climate over long timescales.”

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91 thoughts on “Climate Change and the dinosaurs

  1. I found myself thinking “Desperate attempt to link their research to having relevance to Global Warming in the hopes of getting more attention”.

    Unless they are arguing for geo-engineering by going out and lasooing a nice big meteorite to fire off into an ocean. Which I suspect they aren’t.

  2. Every one now knows climate change causes everything, including those things that cause climate change.

    But seriously folks, check out how rapidly this study says the climate changed. Also note the complete absence of a run-away greenhouse affect. Where are the positive feedbacks which are supposed to be dominating the system?

    There’s only one explanation for this: The authors of this study are in bed with “big oil” How do we know that? Dinosaurs. Oil. You figure it out.

  3. Hmmm, why is a picture showing KT boundary layers used here?

    I thought that the KT boundary event was 65MYA, not 137MYA?

    REPLY:
    Because it it another “coping event” for Dinosaurs

  4. I don’t know why, but I’ve always suspected that transitions from warm to cold (including ice ages) occur quickly, in the order of one or two centuries at most. In contrast, the reverse happens over periods of thousands of years. We therefore get very little warning of an ice age, which is also far more dangerous to an advanced (soft) civilization than a warm era.

  5. Well shucks! Sounds like we’ve got a few thousand years before Svalbard will have shallow warm seas that could support cold-blooded dinosaurs at the current warming rate. By then we can all just move to some other planet.

  6. “The findings, which were published in the journal Geology and featured as a highlight in Nature Geoscience, will further contribute to the debate over climate change…”

    Oh no it won’t. Debate’s over. Debate’s over. Debate’s over. La la la la la la la la. Not listening! Debate’s over! La la la la la…

  7. Man is but a blip in time on our beautiful planet. A time will come when all mankind will disappear from the earth. It will be fast and furious and will come from above. This whole idea of AGW global warming is so proposterous I am surprised it is getting nothing more than a chuckle. Sadly, there is a sucker born every minute, which means there are a lot of suckers out there…..roughly 80% of the population….sadly..
    Finally common sense is starting to rear its ugly head, and we see the alarmists for who they really are. Pathetic demented control freaks.
    Enjoy life, and live every day like it is your last. There is no coming back once you are gone, so do all you can do , and see all you can in the short microcosmic spec of time you are here.
    Ian

  8. No S*** Sherlock…..

    Myself and many other Earth Scientists (I still detest this description of geologists) who frequent this site have been immersed in these very rocks the Earth has chosen to capture Her history with far longer than would seem apparant from these press releases.

    Rocks that have for years told us of a cyclical environment which has blown hot and cold for millennia and will continue to do long after Homo Sapiens has been wiped clean from the surface. Muchlike our reptilian friends were at the end of the Cretaceous.

    This is not breaking news. Might be for a muppet like Ed Milliband, the UK’s Climate Change Minister (you couldn’t make it up)

  9. I’d like to focus on this sentence: “At certain times in the geological past, the world has been dominated by greenhouse conditions with elevated CO2 levels and warm Polar Regions, and hence, these are seen as analogues of future global climate.”

    Let’s see, according to idealogues future global warming is a disaster of epic proportion, yet it’s pretty obvious that life was thriving during the “greenhouse conditions”, to the point of being capable of supporting life-forms far larger than any that exist today.

    On the other hand global cooling, in particular rapid drops in temperatures like the one that occurred some 137 million years ago, leads to mass extinction events.

    And hey, if this means that global warming turns birds back into dinosaurs, how cool would that be? An irreverant point perhaps, but no less plausible than a lot of what we here from AGW doomsayers.

  10. Climate change to the earth is analagous to navel gazing to a human–simply no big deal; it comes with the territory.

    Like other geologists, I fail to see anything new here. But perhaps emphasizing that there are larger, more drastic climate change agents than CO2 will make a few AGW believers think a bit deeper.

  11. So I guess there’s no connection between the opening of the Atlantic Ocean (remember Iceland? ) around the time of the K-T barrier, iridium found in volcanic ash, and the resulting volcanic winter.

    The inference in the PR release statement, “Despite being located in the Arctic Circle, Svalbard was home to numerous species of dinosaur and was typically characterised by warm, shallow seas and swamps” is a bit disingenuous since Svalbard thousands of miles to the south of the Arctic Circle at that time.

  12. It is an interesting point regarding dinosaurs and relatively rapid temperature change. As the Cretaceous period was a time when the huge areas of what we now have as dry land was covered in shallow seas, the dinosaurs were considerably more constrained in where they could move to whilst escaping chillier conditions moving toward the equator from the poles. This must have produced some intense competition as forcibly intermixed species attempted to survive.

  13. I notice one of the other articles on the Telegraph website is headed “Breathing causes heart attacks”

    Its probably all that super-heated CO2 in the air.

  14. @ L. Nettles, you’re on to something there. Given the dynamics of plate tectonics, where indeed was the region of today’s Svalbard Islands 137 million years ago? Perhaps not anywhere near the Arctic Circle. And was there a Gulf Stream? Or even an Atlantic Ocean? And if this sudden cooling was supposed to have had such a dramatic effect on the dinosaurs, how come they didn’t finally die out for another 70 million years? Besides, I thought the latest speculation was that the dinosaurs were warm-blooded, not cold-blooded. Do these geologists have the interdisciplinary creds to back up their theory? Something is very fishy about this study, if you ask me.

  15. “Although a short episode of cool polar conditions is potentially at odds with a high CO2 world, our data demonstrates the variability of climate over long timescales.”

    Amazing. Despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that C02 doesn’t drive climate, that it is in fact a result of climate change, going up some 800 years after temperatures rise, and temperatures being able to drop like a stone, despite those high C02 levels, these “scientists” still don’t get it. They really do seem dumber than a box of hammers.

  16. Has the cult of CO2-warming become so overpowering that “earth scientists” completely ignore an inch-thick iridium-rich marker? Do they just miss it or ascribe some other origin for it?–perhaps they believe that Ir was caused by some forcing agent that turns lead into this most unusual of precious metals–only, of course, in the presence of sufficient concentrations of CO2. Would that I could find the magical formula!

  17. No one knows the number theories there are to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs.
    Every “scientist” have at least one. It has been like this for as long as I can remember.

  18. Update: Second formatting issue still there. Text under pic still cut off by right-side menu bar.

    Viewed on Iceweasel (Firefox) 3.0.6, OS Debian Linux.

  19. A few points in relation to the posts above:

    This has absolutely nothing to do with dinosaur extinction. It happenen 137 million years ago, that means 72 million years before dinosaurs became extinct. That is a much longer time than has passed since dinosaurs actually did become extinct (65 million years). The Telegraph article is just AGW spin. Incidentally the climate then was in no way similar to now. It was vastly warmer, truly a greenhouse climate, in contrast to current icehouse climate.

    There was NO major extinction at that time.

    There was no Gulf stream then, and Svalbard was nearly as far North as it is now.

    The iridium layer at the K/T boundary is cosmogenic, not volcanic as shown by the isotope ratios. And it has nothing to do with Icelandic volcanism, which started well after the K/T boundary. Icelandic volcanism may well have something to do with the PETM warm pulse 55 million years ago, but not with dinosaur extinction 10 million years earlier. Volcanism in Deccan, India which spans the K/T boundary on the other hand may have had an influence on dinosaur extinction.

  20. Re: Ian Mc Vindicated (12:20:12)

    Stop crying in your beer. Your tone reads more like the human hating claptrap on RC.

    Michael

  21. One of the reasons why I like the internet is that when someone comes out with an article like this, the response is immediate and informed. There is no way to respond to the Telegraph article.

  22. Oh I forgot one thing. Dinosaurs were almost certainly not “cold-blooded”, at least the theropods (carnivorous dinosaurs) were definitely warm-blooded, and other groups probably were too. Incidentally they did live in areas near the poles where temperatures were definitely below freezing in winter (e. g. southern Australia, northern Alaska), and where poikilothermic (“cold-blooded”) forms like crocodiles and squamates (“lizards) apparently could not survive.

  23. “The flourishing of the dinosaurs and a range of other data indicates that the Cretaceous period was considerably warmer and boasted a high degree of CO2 in the atmosphere,” said Dr Price.

    Lucky there wasnt a runaway tipping point then.

    hehe

  24. There was a compendium issue of palaeontology in the Anatomical Record in 2009 which included a fascinating paper by Edith Schachner showing that dinosaurs had lungs with a one-way through air circulation like birds, in contrast to the tidal air circulation that we have. The bird / dinosaur one-way system, which employs air sacs in bones, is TEN TIMES more efficient than ours. Bird lungs dont move out and in like ours with breathing. They have a rigid shape, and are smaller than ours relative to body size. But their much greater efficiency allows them to accomplish the aerobic feat of flying long distances, impossible for mammals.

    That dinosaurs also had these bird-like lungs (birds are of course dinosaurs, the surviving or crown group) means that they literally would have RUN RINGS AROUND any mammalian ancestors that they encountered. The more agile ones like the struthiomimids and raptors would probably have run indefinitely without tiring. Thus our thecodont ancestors had to sit out 150 million odd years as nocturnal rats waiting for the dinosaurs to go away.

    Our ancestors had to sit through three or four mass extinctions in fact before our moment came. The biggest was the Permian-Triassic, a heat event. Flood basalt eruptions in Siberia realised the wildest AGW dream-nightmare of catastrophe, with prolonged massive volcanism and atmospheric discharge resulting in warming leading to catastropic ocean anoxia, almost total extinction in the sea and 80-90% on land. However two groups that survived, Therapsids and Thecodonts, developed into the dinosaurs and (eventually) mammals respectively. The dinosaurs were well heat adapted, especially with their efficient lungs. So the mammalian precursors lost out but did not die out.

    The next catatrophe was also a heat event, the Triassic – Jurassic, basically the start of the separation of America from Europe-Africa, and the opening up of the mid-Atlantic ridge. Again big-time volcanism, acute warming. Again the dinosaurs did well. (But we held on.)

    However During the cretaceous, a general cooling started. Also there were cold snaps (as the dinosaurian BBC would have called them) such as the one described in this article from Plymouth. This began to stress the dinosaurs who preferred it hot. This may be one reason why some dinosaurs tended to larger size in the Cretaceous like T Rex. (Although sauropods were big in the Jurassic). So some good news for the rat-like mammals-in-waiting.

    Then came the end-Cretaceous disaster, the Chikxulub meteor impact. Finally a cold event extinction. The dinosaurs perished except the dinosaurian ancestors of the birds. Mammals with their fur and thermoregulation survived, and, following brief competition with some monster-chicken like bird predators, emerged finally as the dominant land animals.

    Climate continued to cool in the Tertiary further playing to mammals’ advantages. Eventually the current glacial period developed (landmass surrounding a north polar sea).

    But if AGW is correct and CO2 release reverses 200 million years of cooling, then maybe the tide will turn again? Perhaps the birds will evolve back into dinosaurs?

    A major physiological advantage of dinosaurs over say humans relates to playing the organ. A human organist has a balance problem, he uses feet for the pedal bass notes and hands for the keyboard,and leans forward with no counter-weight. A dinosaur, realising development toward bifocal eyes, opposing thumbs and intelligence etc.. (e.g. Struthiomimus, Compsognathus etc.) would not have this problem. The leg and arm claws, though fewer in number (3-4 rather than 5) would still play the pedals and keyboard effectively, and the tail would counter-balance the whole organist. Thus the complete realisation of Bach’s musical creativity awaits this significant climate warming and consequent re-adjustment of life-forms.

  25. The opening paragraph of this article seems at odds with the body of it. The opening begins “The prevailing theory (on Dino extinction) is said to be a comet/meteor strike.” But the remainder talks about a cooling event that occurred 70 million years earlier that the Dino extinction.

    REPLY:
    I’m just pointing it out so people would get the two epochs confused, didn’t work, no good deed goes unpunished. -A

  26. The KT iridium layer was long ago shown to have its source in terrestrial volcanism not extraterrestial meteors. The meteorite extinction theory is just one of several examples of junk science made popular by what passes for science journalism. The same journalist who have been pushing AGW cut their teeth promoting the ME theory.

  27. Could anyone explain to me the reasoning behind CO2 feedback effects? We’re living with around 350-400ppm CO2 right now. CO2 levels 50m years ago are estimated to have been anywhere between 500-2000ppm. Surely if the rapid rise in global temperatures we see now as a result of CO2 ‘forcing’ applied then – on the same timescale we allegedly see today – earth would have suffered ‘catastrophic warming’ and become a fireball within a geological blip. The only answer I’ve heard to this question from AGW proponents is that the sun was ‘dimmer’ 50m years ago, with no explanation as to why it was dimmer, how much dimmer it was or how solar output 50m years ago can be measured. Regardless, solar output was obviously high enough to propel the earth to temperatures exceeding those of today so why didn’t high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere force them onwards and upwards? Has the earth been delicately balanced on a knife edge of energy equilibrium throughout geological history, where every energy variable just happens to have been countered by another to conveniently ensure the survival of life? Or could it be the fact that we have an atmosphere at all is down to the predominance of negative feedback effects of CO2 / water vapour / oceans, regulating global temperatures in both directions?

    Apologies for any mistakes or incorrect assumptions here – I’m no expert, just interested to hear people’s thoughts.

  28. Bob(Sceptical Redcoat) (12:05:23) :
    I don’t know why, but I’ve always suspected that transitions from warm to cold (including ice ages) occur quickly, in the order of one or two centuries at most. In contrast, the reverse happens over periods of thousands of years.
    Other way around: warming is fast, descent into cold is slow.

  29. Bruce Cobb (12:59:10) :

    Dumber than a box of hammers, two boxes of bent nails and 2 bashed thumbs.

  30. Les Johnson (12:11:43) : “The Telegraph has a much different take on this. They actually state that high CO2 levels caused melting ice, which caused the cooling.”

    Ah yes, the old “heating causes cooling” argument. Favored by doomsday fans of The Day After Tomorrow, and doomsday capitalists such as Al Gore.

  31. Ian Mc Vindicated (12:20:12) : “This whole idea of AGW global warming is so proposterous I am surprised it is getting nothing more than a chuckle. ”

    The core religious conviction of the CAGW believer is solipsism.

  32. While I make no claims as to the veracity of their map (thank you Google), according to this paper Svalbard was sitting at about 65 deg north at 120Ma which does indeed put it in the geological ballpark of the Arctic Circle during the time frame in question (scroll down to map on second page):

    http://www.nhm.uio.no/forskning-samlinger/studier/geologi/svalex/ressurs_CD/Misc/Hurum_et_al_NJG_2006_dino-footprints.pdf

    Seems that if Svalbard wasn’t quite at the Arctic Circle then it would be short something on the order of magnitude of hundreds of miles, not thousands.

    Here is a nifty reconstructed globe for those that like 3D (Svalgard can be spotted off the north coast of Greenland):

    http://www.scotese.com/1202d.htm

    As for the Gulf Stream question – the north Atlantic hadn’t unzipped at 137Ma so the current didn’t exist as we know it today.

    ~Geologist Deb

  33. A number of years back I was working a few meters above the KT in West of Edmonton, AB. I over drilled and cored a few holes to penetrate it. Passing that core along to the Paleontologists. If I remember correctly they told me the climate as represented by the pollen grains indicated much stress. That would be in ±1 m just below the KT. That stress was a changing climate but I don’t think they attempted to tie it any global event. Lots of volcanic ash associated with these rocks as well.

  34. There is very little evidence correlating CO2 to temperature over geologic time though there are frequent assertions of CO2 driven climate forcing in the Phanerozoic. These generally appear to depend upon choosing sample periods when the apparent trend are in the same direction. Cherry picking as it were.

    The end of the Cretaceous not only corresponds with the iridium horizon but also with a shift from a “greenhouse” to “icehouse” state though the shift is usually placed later in the Paleogene (about 50 mya). The distinction between the two types of climate regimen is presence or absence of evidence for polar ice caps and ice rafting of glacially transported rock into marine basins. Earlier in the Mesozoic the climate was also warm without any evidence for increase. A mid-Mesozoic “ice house” event spanning the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous interrupts this in the late Jurassic-early Cretaceous. This event lacks known evidence of continental glacial activity (no tills or other markers) but does yielded evidence of ice rafted rock as far south (and north) as 60 degrees latitude. All it takes is an examination with MK I eyeball to notice that there is no correlation with CO2 levels. In fact, while it has oscillated pretty wildly, CO2 seems to have tended to steadily decline in concentration since the middle Mesozoic. The present era marks the apparent lowest concentration in geological history.

    Shaviv and Veizer 2003 provides a nice composite graph of the available geological data that is useful regardless of how one regards their solar/cosmic ray hypothesis. I had to produce my own graph of the same data and theirs is nicer.

    http://www.juniata.edu/projects/oceans/GL111/celestialdriverofclimate.pdf

  35. Well one thing we know from a week or so ago is that meteorites take no more than 35 seconds or so to go from space to earth; and deposit their Iridium, so we can make hard fountain pen nibs.

    From that moment on; would it take a few weeks or maybe as long as a year for all the dunnosirs to starve to death. So why did the mammals survive.

    I’ve read credible scientific articles that the demise of the dinosaurs was going on for something like a million years before that 35 second blast and this is the very first time I have read that NO non flying dynos survived after the earth got sealed in iridium.

    So anecdotally, it seems to me that the meteor event was a lucky happenstance that just came along at the right time to take the blame.

    Not that I’m saying that I don’t believe the Alvarez thesis; its just it took those ugly monsters to damn long to croak, if you ask me.

    The cold spell I can believe as more fitting the time it took to fade to dunnosir black.

  36. There must have been several massive volcano eruptions and meteor strikes over the long period the dinosaurs ruled the Earth. All would have had caused sudden climate cooling events which could threaten their survival.

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but what’s new here?

  37. RockyRoad (12:42:45) :

    “Climate change to the earth is analagous to navel gazing to a human–simply no big deal; it comes with the territory.”

    I had to re-read this. First time I thought it said naval grazing. I’m not eating belly button lint.

  38. well, yes, of course. The sun was 30% dimmer back then than at present. Also, with more ocean surface area, evaporation was greater so cloud cover and thus planetary albedo was higher.

  39. SetSatire=True

    No Scientist Magazine – April 26 2010.

    AGW effects have been shown to “Leak” through high energy experiments, causing past geological warming events, such as those that killed the Dinosaurs.

    The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), may have chanelled global warming into the past, via some ‘Dark Energy effect’, the evidence can be found in the layer of Iridium, that demarks the KT Boundary, the point in time when the big lizards snuffed it.

    The change in the Earths albedo, due to more clouds caused by LHC AGW, 140 million years ago, also caused big rocks to fall from the sky, these in turn caused an ice age event. Which wiped out most life (see hockey stick graph)

    Scientists recommend we shut down the 21st century, in order to spontaneously resurrect the dinosaurs, which will have huge economic spin offs for Kentucy Fried Chicken – Mega Family Dinner Buckets, solving world hunger over night.

    Al Gore has called for a national day of mourning, for the billions of life forms killed by future mankind in the extremely distant past, “Thats the difficulty people have, grasping that we changed the planet before we existed, but the proof is in a convertable.”

  40. Dinosaurs being essentially avian, with feathers and down, could handle more weather than the traditional swamp monster image. Think of the ptarmigan. I certainly wouldn’t rule out migration, and species today are quite capable of moving their ranges over a period of hundreds or thousands of years, if not far quicker.

  41. I find this stuff fascinating… i take it from the article they haven’t inferred a mechanism yet? Id be interested in tectonic activity at the time… and since when did our current climate compare to the cretaceous period! Sounds like a lil journalistic freedom with the facts…im gonna stay away from the telegraph article! It sounds like it may give me an embolism!

    Something ive always wondered about the 65mya comet strike, was if that was the cause of the massive volcanism in Indonesia… it was a big rock, and a lot o energy went somewhere(it should transmit and focus on approx opposite side o globe)

  42. One question, if it was that warm there and no ice, where was all the water? Would’nt everything be flooded if there was no ice? Or is there more water on earth now than before?

  43. Whatever occurred to force extinctions 137 million years-before-present (YBP), plate tectonic dispositions show Svaalbard nowhere the Arctic Circle at the time. As for the Chixculub cometary/meteorite impact in Yucatan at the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) Boundary some 65 million YBP, what possible connection has earth’s inflamed oxygen-rich atmosphere then with a relatively mild, short-term, global cooling episode 72 million years before?

    This ludicrous article is chronologically incoherent, geologically so far off-base that one genuinely wonders what these so-called science reporters had for lunch. Such mindless, even ridiculous, assertions are of a piece with Climate Cultists’ endless drivel basing 1,000 years of global temperatures on a magical sample of precisely three low-Arctic trees.

  44. Here is what the world is thought to look like then:

    http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm

    Select “Early Cretaceous Climate”. Lots of other things on this site.

    Also, the KT boundary is much like the current AGW debate. The Chicxulub crater predated the Maastrichtian-Danian contact (aka the KT boundary) by 300,000 years. To see more, search for papers by Geta Keller (http://geoweb.princeton.edu/people/keller/Mass_Extinction/massex.html).

    Much as it is with the, so called, AGW debate there are those who see geological events with a peculiar slant. Think: NASA offers grants! Even more interesting the Deccan Traps are seldom, if at all, mentioned (http://www.mantleplumes.org/Deccan.html).

    On a unrelated thread, look at how quiet the Sun has become! I’m thinking … Maunder Minimum just after the solar cycle peak activity … if so … next is eleven years of quiet!

  45. The K-T is a line in the sand (now rock). Its big (sort’a), extensive, and easy to see. It also has a way of making a long and very complicated story into one that is short and sweet. Its the complicated part of the story that means it will be an item of interest for many, many years to come.

  46. Interesting, but not sure how there is anything contradictory here, or especially revealing. It was warm, CO2 was high, and then a major global event (i.e. large comet or asteroid strike) caused a major climate change for a period of time. I don’t see must of interest of either the AGW supporter or AGW skeptics grist mill here. Barely worth my eyesight actually…

  47. I remember some Attenborough TV series years ago, in which he explained that the ambient temperature in which a reptile’s egg was incubated determined the sex of the hatchling.
    I think it was a one degree increase in temperature changed the crocodile chick from female to male (or vice versa).

    At the time I thought that such a drastic increase in same sex reptiles by such a small climatic variation could have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

    Sounds as plausible as the above theory to me, a rank amateur.

  48. If you look at this graph (link below) you can see there was cooling about when they’re talking about. They say 137 million years ago, the graph peaks it at 144, close I’d say. But look at the CO2. While it does go up before the temp drop, it keeps going down while the temp goes backup, while it flattens out and when the temp drops again. I’m no authority but it seems logical the CO2 had nothing to do with it.

    Not a great graph but looks like the CO2 level then was about 21-2200 Ppm.
    Explains my “duh” look when I read the article in the Telegraph stating that the greenhouse effect then was like now.

    The Telegraph article about gave me a brain seizure trying to figure out why they were talking 137 and 65 million years ago. Evidently they were talking out the wrong orifice.

    I’m so glad for places like this where I can attempt to resolve all the BS flying around. Thanks to all.

  49. The paper by Nir Shaviv and Jan Veizer ‘Celestrial Driver of Phanerozoic Climate’ in GSA Today, Vol 13, No 7 , p. 4 (July 2003) convincingly shows that variations of paleo-climate as seen by 18-O/16-O isotope ratios parallel variations of cosmic ray intensities, as seen by 10-Be isotope variations in geological deposits.

    They also report a dominant period of approx. 130 Million years for the appearance of grand ice ages, and see fingerprints of 4 cold periods (grand ice ages) over the last 500 million years (see their fig 2). We are now in the most recent cold period. According to the authors, the variations are caused by spirals arms of the galaxy, which are traversed by the solar system. 130 million years is the time it takes to reach the next spiral arm.

    So in the paper presented here, they may have seen the beginning of the next to last grand ice age period. Carbonate deposits in minerals depend on the amount of CO2 dissolved in sea water, which in turn depends on the global temperature. And global temperature may be driven by other effects but greenhouse gases.

    Jan Veizer has presented this and other work on the 2nd Int. Conf. on Climate Change 2009, in New York. Maybe you can get a comment of Jan Veizer on the present work. During his tenure at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, Veizer has been one of the leading geologists in Germany, as expressed by the prestigious Leibniz price awarded to him end of the nineties. The Leibniz price is a 2.5 million Euro award for the purpose of doing more research independent of any research grant applications.

    On much shorter time scales, cosmic ray intensities are also varied by the active sun. How those cosmic ray intensity variations modify the terrestrial solar irradiation, not the one on top of the atmosphere, but on the ground via changes in the atmosphere, is shown in another paper, which I have sent to you recently. Maybe you can also get a comment by Jan Veizer or Nir Shaviv on this paper.

    How cloud coverage may by varied by cosmic rays, has been discussed by Svensmark.

  50. Of course what this suggests is that there are forcings (maybe internal to the system) which operate on a century to millennial cyclicity. So, our tiny observational window of 130 years +/- doesn’t come close to properly sampling such cycles & by definition there is no way we can tell if the increase in temps over the modern period is driven by CO2 or simply natural forcings. I can’t emphaisze enough how important that is – all we really have is a general correlation of CO2 & temps in the modern period, but on the basis of observation alone, knowing there are natural cycles of considerably longer length, it is SCIENTIFICALLY INVALID to conclude the the change in temps in the modern era is from CO2.

    If you are thinking as a scientist, this paper is as much a dagger in the heart of AGW as any thing you could imaging.

    Of course, most of us geoscientist types have been saying this all along – based on careers of making observations similar to this paper. This is a primary reason that you will see that most geoscientists are AGW skeptics.

  51. If this story is correct then it presumably supports the argument for higher values for climate sensitivity, rather than lower ones, which is precisely why anthropogenic influences hold the potential for substantial global climate change.

  52. There were several cooling events between 195 Mya and 135 Mya with the largest cool period/mini-ice age ocurring at 160 Mya.

    These cooling events seem to be associated with the continental drift of Siberia/East Asia across the North Pole.

    But between the Triassic-Jurassic extintion event about 200 Mya (associated with the beginning of the cooler periods), there were very, very few extinctions until the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event at 65 Mya.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_event

    The climate actually warmed considerably after the last cool period of 135 Mya so that the Cretaceous Warm period at about 100 Mya was one of the warmest in history.

    So, this study just confirms there was a cooler period about 137 Mya. Svalbard was just north of Greenland at about 60N at the time and Europe and Greenland/North America were still locked together.

  53. I have not yet read the comments but i have a question.

    Q) Do the IPCC models incorporate melting polar icecaps resulting in cooling prior to a resumption in ‘warming’ later?

  54. Fitzy (15:01:04) :
    SetSatire=True
    No Scientist Magazine – April 26 2010.
    AGW effects have been shown to “Leak” through high energy experiments, causing past geological warming events, such as those that killed the Dinosaurs.
    The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), may have chanelled global warming into the past, via some ‘Dark Energy’>>

    Now hold on. If it leaked into the past it went somewhere else. The earth wasn’t in the same place then as it is now. So any AGW we leaked into the past would’ve missed. The obvious explanation is that some other race on some other planet vented THEIR heat into THEIR past and killed OUR dinosaurs. This is awful. They could do it again at any moment! We need to start preparing. Research. Training. Develope defenses and a counter attack. We need to find the aliens that murdered our dinosaurs and make sure we get them before they get us. It all makes sense now. They may have already started their attack, there’s four times as many polar bears as there were 20 years ago and they are going extinct! PROOF OF ALIEN ATTACK! We must protect our polar bears, ourselves, and avenge the dinosaurs! The UFO’s are real, they are scouts checking to see if we are extinct yet.

    Gotta go, wife says time for meds and something about wrapping my head in tinfoil.

  55. Lots of interesting discussion here. The K-T boundary was terrestrial in origin, and it was not. Svalbard was in the arctic, and it was not.

    What this proves to me is how ridiculous it is to ever state that “the science is settled”, except maybe in some aspects of physics and chemistry. The discussion on this topic shows just how diverse the theories are, even for events which have some good, directly measurable evidence (isotope levels, etc.). The whole AGW debate has pushed me to reconsider many assumptions I’ve made based on the bulk of scientific evidence. Heck, look at how many things we just KNEW were true in the 1970′s that are now false due to better measurements or data (thinking astronomy, in particular).

    I now see science more as a continuum, and theories slide along the line between total bunk and absolute fact, based on the current state of evidence.

    It used to amaze me how much we know about dinosaurs, considering we’ve never seen one. As far as I know, the only evidence we have are fossils, which are rock that formed where bones used to be. So, we have a proxy for the skeletal remains for critters that lived a minimum of 65 million years ago. How do we know if they were warm-blooded or cold-blooded? How do we know they didn’t have lungs like a modern reptile? No soft tissue exists so there is no way to really know…we can only infer from the limited evidence we have. I’m much more jaded now about what we think we know and often pass off as fact. In reality smart people make guesses, publish them, and they become the prevailing “fact” until someone else publishes a different idea that sounds better. Sometimes there are conflicting ideas that both match the available data.

    From what I remember, this is the way science is supposed to work. I think the breakdown, which is certainly not unique to AGW, happened when theory began to be sold as fact for the purpose of collecting government grant money. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether you are reading science or a marketing pitch.

  56. Roy Spencer will be interviewed tonight (Mon.) on Coast-to-Coast from 10pm to 2am Pacific time.

    [Reply: Do you have a link? ~dbs]

  57. John Silver (13:24:29) : “No one knows the number theories there are to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs. Every “scientist” have at least one. It has been like this for as long as I can remember.”

    I’m partial to the oxygen reduction theory. If terrestrial atmospheric O² went from 30% to 20%, it would be easier for smaller animals to survive: roughly speaking, airway area is proportional to animal height squared; air requirement is proportional to animal height to the third power. Smaller is better.

  58. Liam (12:51:02) :

    I notice one of the other articles on the Telegraph website is headed “Breathing causes heart attacks”

    And birth is the leading cause of death.

  59. Anyone give any credence to this theory?

    “The Deccan Traps, a “volcanic flood,” buried huge portions of India underlava about one mile deep over an area half the size of Australia.But that wasn’t all. According to paleontologist Dewey McLean, a good portion of the Deccan Traps was submarine.

    Wouldn’t it make sense that thousands of cubic miles – cubic miles! – of lava measuring 2,150 degrees hot, ten times the boiling point. pouring into the seas might have heated them just a tad?

    That’s exactly what happened. Ocean temperatures at the dinosaur extinction rose by 14F to 22F. As the lava poured into the seas, te oceans must have boiled, literally boiled, sending untold amounts of moisture into skies. The increased evaporation would have sent excess moisture rose into the skies, skies which had already cooled because of the ash from the above water eruptions. This lead to massive increases in snowfall, and to an ice age.

    Warmer oceans and colder skies, a deadly combination . . . which is what I propose in Not by Fire but by Ice.”

  60. jorgekafkazar (19:40:20) : it is actually thought that oxygen levels rose after the KT. They were probably relatively low throughout the Mesozoic (from 35% peak in the Carboniferous-Permian to about 10% in the Triassic), apparently staying below 20%. Dinosaurs likely adapted to this by having a more extensive and efficient respiratory system, as evidenced by that in birds today. Oxygen increased after the KT and probably allowed mammals to compete more successfully.

  61. Love the elegance of Neal Adams’ dinosaur extinction theory. Simply put, the dinosaurs were land egg layers that migrated pole to pole. Once the land migration pathway was severed, the dinosaurs died. Not the other species like crocs. They didn’t migrate.

  62. My (non scientist) 2 cents.

    Aiui, the Earth’s tilt changes on a 41,000 year cycle, so the Arctic Circle has
    grown and shrunk some 2,000 times in the last 82 million years.

    (My theory being that the world has less ice when it’s upright.)

  63. Inconceivable!

    The the AGW Scientists repeat their made up half truths the more they believe them themselves.

    Inconceivable!

  64. Bajan (15:59:21) :

    “I remember some Attenborough TV series years ago, in which he explained that the ambient temperature in which a reptile’s egg was incubated determined the sex of the hatchling.”

    Bajan, thats quite an original idea. Never seen this as a theory on dinosaur extintion before!

    Good thinking.

  65. John H (20:21:42) :

    No. Most of the Deccan volcanism was aerial. And it started long before the end of the Cretaceous, and it did not wipe out dinosaurs even in India, there are dinosaurs in the intertrappan beds that formed between eruptions.

    Also there was vastly larger submarine eruptions in the mid-Cretaceous when the huge Ontong Java basalt plateau (5 million square kilometers) formed on the bottom of the Pacific in a remarkably short time. This does seem to have had large scale effects on the ocean (Ocean Anoxic Event (OAE) 1, is probably related), but there was no major extinction and the huge quantities om CO2 released into the ocean (and ultimately the atmosphere) did not cause any catastrophe.

  66. I need to read more. What’s here is insufficient and makes the project sound like pure crap.

  67. Mike Lorrey (14:59:45) :
    “well, yes, of course. The sun was 30% dimmer back then than at present.”

    What do you mean by “back then”? The sun was 30% dimmer 3-4 billion years ago, but by the Cretaceous (150-60 million years ago) its output was not much different than today.

    The palaeo history of temperature and CO2 makes the idea of CO2 forcing of climate an absurdity. That AGWers snatch at a dim sun as a fig leaf, and indeed that the CO2 AGW “theory” has any credibility at all, is a sad and disturbing reflection on science, journalism and human society.

  68. What is actually known about the demise of the dinosaurs is the following:
    a) there was a large asteroid impact around 65 m y a
    b) no dinosaur fossils have so far been found above the iridium layer

    The conclusion that the asteroid “killed” the dinosaurs is easy to come to, but there are still many questions that have to be answered. If it did kill the dinosaurs, why did it not kill the birds, the crocodiles, the snakes, the turtles, the mammals, the fish etc.?

    Maybe the large dinosaurs were already extinct when the asteroid hit? Maybe there were large dinosaurs (or small ones!) even after the event, but we just have not found any fossils yet?

    The last chapter in this story has not been written yet …

  69. Interesting research, it never fails to amaze me at the arrogance we accept as truth, when we know so little.

    Doesn’t this mean 2000+ppm CO2 made really big plants and really big dinosaurs to eat them?

    But further — If the AGW positive feedback theory is correct, and the climate will ‘lock up’ with too much CO2, never recover and we are all going to fry because of the mythical positive feedback, then why haven’t we and the dinosaurs all fried? CO2 was some 2000+ ppm during the Cretaceous time period, surely past the point earth will never recover from.

    Yet here we are. Do you sense something is wrong with the “mythical positive feedback theory”.

    If not, then this research contradicts “we are all going to fry” if one more ppm goes into the atmosphere. Someone needs to rethink their claims.

    Emphasis mine …

  70. JimBob (18:42:57)

    “How do we know if they were warm-blooded or cold-blooded? How do we know they didn’t have lungs like a modern reptile?”

    Edith Schachner’s article I referred to above showed convincingly that essentially all dinosaurs had the rigid avian type lung characterised by ribs branching in two at the junction with the vertebrae, and some other features. They also had extensive air sacs in bones needed for the avian style one-way air circulation (much more efficient). It was clearly not the hepatic piston type lung of the crocodile, and the fact that the lung was rigid excluded the mammalian tidal lung also.

    Unlike us but again like birds (recall your last roast chicken / turkey) dinosaur ribs go all the way along the thorax, no belly-dancing for dinosaurs or six-packs. A rigid thorax with no soft regions.

    BTW some rare fossils of dinosaurs e.g. in China do include soft tissue not only bone, in special circumstances of preservation in mud. Recall the Archaeopteryx in Germany, complete with feathers.

    Having this hyper-efficient avian type lung also rather answers the question of thermal stragety – such a lung makes no sense in a cold-blooded animal.

    Of course I agree that science is not settled. I was interested in dinosaurs in my teens and read a whole book on the question “hot or cold blooded?” Human nature sadly seems more settled – political systems including imposed belief systems have always arisen in human society with no sign of change.

  71. Climate change is natural. Belief in human caused global warming is a mistake. Average global temperatures for at least 114 years and counting have been accurately calculated (coefficient of determination, R2 = 0.86). There was no need whatsoever to include the effects of change to the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide or any other greenhouse gas. See how and eye-opening graphics at http://climaterealists.com/attachments/database/corroborationofnaturalclimatechange.pdf

  72. Sean Peake says:
    “The inference in the PR release statement, “Despite being located in the Arctic Circle, Svalbard was home to numerous species of dinosaur and was typically characterised by warm, shallow seas and swamps” is a bit disingenuous since Svalbard thousands of miles to the south of the Arctic Circle at that time.”

    Sean, I don’t think you are correct about “thousands” of miles but, if your were, wouldn’t it be that much more remarkable to have a big freeze that far south.

    R. Gates says:
    April 26, 2010 at 3:57 pm
    “Interesting, but not sure how there is anything contradictory here, or especially revealing. It was warm, CO2 was high, and then a major global event (i.e. large comet or asteroid strike) caused a major climate change for a period of time. I don’t see must of interest of either the AGW supporter or AGW skeptics grist mill here. Barely worth my eyesight actually…”

    Your eyesight might need adjustment. The big chill referred to was 137mya when CO2 was quite high and the comet was safely somewhere else. The comet hit 70million years later – there are two events here, both of which represent natural climate change.

  73. JimBob says:
    April 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm re: how we know the dinos were warm-blooded.

    It was actually a French mathematician that calculated that a massive dinosaur couldn’t get his core body temperature heated up quickly enough from the outside by the sun to get him going in the morning (forgot his name).

  74. phlogiston says:
    April 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    There was a compendium issue of palaeontology in the Anatomical Record in 2009 which included a fascinating paper…
    ___________________________________

    Thank you for the fascinating information. The information has certainly changed since that last time I did a lot of reading on dinosaurs.

  75. L Nettles says:

    Was there a Gulf Stream 140 million years ago? Where was Svalbard?

    There was no Gulf Stream ‘cos there was no American Gulf 140 million years ago. It was only forming 80 m years ago. By about 3 million years ago, an isthmus formed between North and South America. For what it’s worth, my view is that this was the cause of the earth cooling and climate variability becoming so erratic.

    http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/platetec/plhist94.htm#150my

    Sea levels fluctuated during the middle to late cretaceous indicating warming and cooling temperture changes were common. What we call dinosaurs were not cold blooded but were intolarant of the cold. Some developed feathers that allowed them to range over a wider degree of temerature zones.

  76. Just a thought but I wondered if there is evidence that the K-T event actually set off the Deccan Traps? A major impact must have seismic consequences. If so, the K-T event set in motion effects that impacted climate for an extended age. Is this what saw off the already dwindling Dinosaur population and allowed the emergence of mamals? In any case CO2 must have had a pretty minor role. Sorry Al. Pack up your Carbon Credits and go home. We’re all waiting for Yellowstone to blow.

  77. Gore was here in Denver yesterday.

    Gore tells foundations: Climate strides in your hands
    By Bruce Finley
    The Denver Post
    Posted: 04/27/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

    Climate-change skeptics have argued that temperature shifts are exaggerated by scientists and that humans are not the cause.

    Gore said that “the threats we respond to automatically are the ones our ancestors survived.” For example, if a deadly snake were released in the conference hall, philanthropists probably would edge away quickly. People “who debated what kind of snake it was,” he said, “are not our ancestors.”

    Now, the challenge is for grantmakers to nourish the capacity to address unseen threats, to unlock “the fire and enthusiasm” of a new generation motivated to make sweeping changes toward sustainable living.

    My daughter observed that as an example of natural selection, the snake in a roomful of people fails the test of common sense. I reminded her that Gore is an evangelist for his religion. Getting the Biblical reference in there allows him to hedge his bets, covering natural selection and religion all in one failed metaphor.

    He got a standing ovation.

  78. Gail Combs says:
    April 27, 2010 at 11:36 am

    It is Anat. Rec. vol 292 no. 9, Sept 2009. I picked it up at an orthopedic conference recently, Wiley-Blackman were giving away free copies.

  79. “We need to find the aliens that murdered our dinosaurs and make sure we get them before they get us. It all makes sense now. They may have already started their attack, there’s four times as many polar bears as there were 20 years ago and they are going extinct! PROOF OF ALIEN ATTACK! We must protect our polar bears, ourselves, and avenge the dinosaurs!”

    David, the polar bears are not going extinct, they’re increasing. Don’t you get it?? The aliens have landed and taken the form of polar bears!

    “So any AGW we leaked into the past would’ve missed”

    Whoa. Stand by for a lawsuit from another planet for the AGW and CO2 that we generated 137 million years ago.

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