Extinction and global warming 250 million years ago


Life on land and tropical overheating 250 million years ago

One of the key effects of the end-Permian mass extinction, 252 million years ago, was rapid heating of tropical waters and atmospheres.

How this affected life on land has been uncertain until now.

In a new study published today, Dr Massimo Bernardi and Professor Mike Benton from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol show how early reptiles were expelled from the tropics.

The Permian-Triassic world 250 million years ago, showing all continents fused as the supercontinent Pangaea, the tropical belt (orange and yellow colours), and reptile distributions. CREDIT
Massimo Bernardi 2018

Geologists had already shown that ocean temperatures rose by 10-15 degrees centigrade as a result of global warming triggered by massive volcanic eruption.

The huge volcanoes erupting in Siberia belched thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, setting off a chain reaction that involved global warming, acid rain, and loss of oxygen from the sea bed.

Together, these environmental crises led to the death of 95 percent of species.

Ten main lines of reptiles survived the crisis and re-populated the Earth in the subsequent Early Triassic time. However, they avoided the tropics, as did fishes and other animals in the oceans. The tropical clear-out was understood to have lasted several million years, but the new work shows that is not the case.

Dr Bernardi, the lead author, now Curator for Palaeontology at MUSE Science Museum in Trento, northern Italy, said: “We thought of using all available data to make our study as comprehensive as possible.

“Up to now, people used only the skeletons of the early reptiles from before and after the crisis, but these are found only in Russia and South Africa, so it is impossible to document any latitudinal shifts.

“We had been building a huge database integrating both skeletal and footprint data, and this allowed to fill a lot of the gaps, over Europe and North America for example.”

Co-author, Professor Benton, added: “Our analyses show that the land reptiles moved north by 10 or 15 degrees to escape the tropical heat.

“The footprint and skeleton data agree in this, but we had to consider how the geographic distributions of fossils matched available land masses and the availability of rock. After all kinds of checking for possible errors, we are clear this is a real effect.”

As the turmoil in the Early Triassic settled down, reptiles moved back to the tropics, but also maintained their temperate faunas. The turmoil then had a stimulating effect, and many new groups came on the scene, including the first dinosaurs.

Dr Bernardi said: “This was an important time in the history of life. It marks the end of ancient kinds of animals in the oceans and on land, and the beginning of the modern-style faunas we see today.

“What we have done is to try to dig deeper into our understanding of the exact consequences of rapid global warming during a well-documented historical event. This might be helpful in understanding what might happen in the future as we undergo more global warming today.”


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Rob Dawg
January 10, 2018 11:59 pm

Ancient reptiles were ectotherms. Wow. That will surely rock the very foundations of settled science not.

January 11, 2018 12:27 am

“study published today, Dr Massimo Bernardi and Professor Mike Benton from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol show” that you can still extrapolate a huge amount of conjecture from the smallest amount of scientific evidence.

Reply to  tom0mason
January 11, 2018 4:42 am

This is ok, and truly scientific, as long as you take it for what it is: just a conjecture, and a test for the validity of the theory (so that it crumbles if facts contradicts the said conjecture).
For example : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Cuvier#Principle_of_the_correlation_of_parts

Reply to  tom0mason
January 11, 2018 8:48 am

“How this affected life on land has been uncertain until now.”
In spite of the claim, we still do not know with certainty. Only the author “knows” this—the rest of us realize how vain and ridiculous that claim is.

Yogi Bear
January 11, 2018 12:28 am

Cold extermination: One of greatest mass extinctions was due to an ice age and not to Earth’s warming

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Yogi Bear
January 11, 2018 8:33 am

Lol so the P-Tr was either caused by extreme heat or extreme cold! Narrowing it down.

a gap in sedimentation, which corresponds to a period when the sea-water level decreased. The only explanation to this phenomenon is that there was ice…the global temperature drop by a stratospheric injection of large amounts of sulphur dioxide reducing the intensity of solar radiation reaching the surface of Earth…The period of intense climate warming, related to the emplacement of large amounts of basalt of the Siberian Traps and which we previously thought was responsible for the extinction of marine species, in fact happened 500,000 years after the Permian-Triassic boundary.

So one theory has a known working mechanism, created a timeline with absolute dates, incorporates the huge spike of sulfur at the time into their theory, and can properly explain why more marine organisms than terrestrial Families went extinct. Whereas the other theory has CO2 wuts dun it. Good to know that there are still plenty of Earth scientists out there conducting real research instead of CO2 theology.

R. Shearer
Reply to  Robert W Turner
January 11, 2018 1:19 pm

On average, it was both.

January 11, 2018 12:32 am

Ah, yes, it must have been the high levels of CO2 that caused catastrophic Global Warming. It could not possibly be that the greatly elevated temperature caused the big amounts of CO2 coming out of the oceans. Why so? Well, there is absolutely no funding available for the latter idea, so we will run with the former…all the way to the Bank..

Reply to  ntesdorf
January 11, 2018 5:16 am

The idea that volcanoes cause warming via CO2 seems to be set in stone, but are there any recent examples of this phenomenon? Maybe this is another divergence problem, like those pesky tree-rings, some recent anthropogenic horror is stopping recent volcanoes from doing the normal thing.

Reply to  climanrecon
January 11, 2018 7:44 am

The only reason they go this route is to be consistent with the absurdly high sensitivity claimed by the IPCC. It’s nothing more than a presumption based on another presumption. All recent volcanic eruptions have shown only cooling effects. If the Siberian traps are to blame, heating the surface is more likely to result from the release of internal heat, rather than the release of CO2 creating new heat out of thin air.

Reply to  climanrecon
January 11, 2018 8:15 am

Just how big would a volcano have to be to significantly increase the atmosphere’s CO2. Currently we have volcanos (some big ones), and us (horrible) humans pumping out as much CO2 as we can. And still, we have only managed to increase the CO2 content by approx. 120 ppm (i.e. 0.028% to 0.040%). And that small amount isn’t going to start any mass extinction or warm the oceans by 10-15°C… Can you imagine the energy required to warm the ocean by 10-15°C, or how much CO2 would be needed to do that? I’m guessing that IF the ocean warmed by 10-15°C that it was more likely due to a change in circulation patterns.

I thought recent CONSENSUS science was that that extinction was caused by a meteor…

Reply to  climanrecon
January 11, 2018 8:17 am

It’s mathematically impossible for CO2 to raise temps that high

Robert W Turner
Reply to  climanrecon
January 11, 2018 8:39 am

Not only is CO2 a magical molecule in climastrology, but so is SO2. CO2 has the magic wand to control global temperature, but SO2 can decide when to or not to override the magic wand warming and cool the planet instead. SO2 only does this whenever it’s convenient.

Tom O
Reply to  climanrecon
January 11, 2018 10:45 am

I have not seen a single major volcanic eruption listed in history that caused anything but a depression in global temperatures. Could you name me one of those where the CO2 overpowered the sulfur and ash that is pumped out of major eruptions and caused warming?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  climanrecon
January 11, 2018 8:31 pm

Jeff in Calgary
you are combining the 2 extinctions into one . There were 2 different extinctions in the last 250 million years. The Mexican based asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs happened only 66 million years ago whereas the study is talking about the extinction 250 million years ago

Reply to  ntesdorf
January 11, 2018 5:28 am

I would additionally posit that huge amounts of sulfur being pumped into air and water was not the most salubrious of outcomes for creature that relied on breathing air or extracting the oxygen in the water trough their gills. Just a thought, but perhaps there was less of it in the more habitable zones 10-15 degrees north/south?

January 11, 2018 12:43 am

The huge volcanoes erupting in Siberia belched thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, setting off a chain reaction that involved global warming, acid rain, and loss of oxygen from the sea bed.

Thousands? Just thousands? Per second?

Reply to  Hugs
January 11, 2018 1:21 am

It’s climate science you don’t have to specify actual data units and then you can’t get it wrong it is thousands of tonnes in some arbitrary time frame that makes the number right. You also don’t need measurements of global warming, acid rain or loss of oxygen from the sea bed you just make it statement it happens and away you go.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  LdB
January 11, 2018 4:19 am

250 million years ago allows for unlimited hand-wavium hocus-pocus.

Kaiser Derden
Reply to  LdB
January 11, 2018 4:28 am

they checked the tree rings and the ice cores …:)

Reply to  Hugs
January 11, 2018 9:06 am

I was just going to cite this. Good Catch.

I was going to say, “you know its not worth accepting anything an article says, when the article is so vastly off in magnitude (and cheekily so) that it elicits a wiser person’s grins and chuckles”. Then I sat back and realized, “its The Media – the British Media – the World’s second-most fervant Metric advocates”. You know, school kids in Europe (leer, browbeat, rise on toes) learn about metric’s orders-of-magnitude before they learn to read!!!

That’s what makes “thousands of tonnes” so jaw dropping.

Even if we go with “thousands of tons per second, that only turns out to be “hundreds of millions of tons per day”. Even then (with the much more soundbite-supporting, encouragingly-larger frightening magnitude at hand, even then it still remains to be asked “and for how many days?”

10 days? Well… then you’re talking 1,000,000,000 tons.
Or maybe more.

Eyjafjallajökull / Bárðarbunga between them emitted some 17 teragrams (OK, Metric Monkeys… how’s that in metric tons? what’s a tera- anyway?) or 17×10¹² g ÷ 10⁶ g/mt = 17×10⁶ → 17,000,000 metric tons of SO₂ (not CO₂) into the atmosphere in about 125 days.

Well, let’s see.

17,000,000 mt ÷ 1,000,000,000 ( × 100 ) = 1.7% of the billion. So yah… a billion metric tons would be a Big Deal. But really? After all ‘they’ aren’t talking SO₂, but CO₂. Because ‘they’ are promoting the idea that all that bad, bad CO₂ blanketed the earth as snug as a bug, then cooked it like an overswaddled sick baby. (Yet, forgetting / omitting the SO₂ is about as disingenuous as you can get: at least short term it would work exactly the opposite way, injecting billions of tons of SO₂ to the stratosphere, where sunlight turns it into SO₃, which condenses with water vapor into H₂SO₄ sulfuric acid, which doesn’t just have a vapor pressure so low that droplets essentially can’t evaporate, but it is hygroscopic, so picks up MORE water vapor, diluting of course, getting heavier, and eventually drifting to the lower atmosphere to become rain.

But no matter.

No. Tho’ indirectly referenced, the authors are of course referring to the 100,000 year long period of the production of magma giving rise to the Siberian Traps. One of the biggest Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) known on the planet. There aren’t that many, either: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_igneous_province is a good article on it. Anyway… yes, the Siberian Traps LIP certainly produced a LOT of magma. 3,000,000 km³ of the stuff. Which in turn produced a LOT of SO₂ and CO₂ gasses. Necessarily so.

It just would have been nice to have the numbers “in the right order of magnitude” and with an integration time.

But as I said to start with: this is expecting too much from Popular Media.


Reply to  Hugs
January 11, 2018 6:37 pm

Thousands of tonnes CO2 emitted vs. ~3 teratonnes CO2 in the atmosphere causes extinctions? Who knew?

Reply to  Hugs
January 23, 2018 3:08 am

It’s deliberately wrong (ie – propaganda). “Thousands of tonnes” caused a mass extinction then, so thousands of tonnes will cause a mass extinction now.

Paul r
January 11, 2018 12:48 am

Perhaps we should have a volcano tax. The bigger the volcano the bigger tax.

Reply to  Paul r
January 11, 2018 1:35 am

Already have in NZ – well maybe1comment image?w=640

Reply to  Paul r
January 11, 2018 1:49 am

It could boost Iceland’s economy.

January 11, 2018 12:50 am

I thought volcanoes caused global cooling due to dust eruptions

Deccan Traps: Wikipedia.

“The release of volcanic gases, particularly sulphur dioxide, during the formation of the traps contributed to climate change. Data points to an average drop in temperature of 2 °C in this period.[6]

Because of its magnitude, scientists formerly speculated that the gases released during the formation of the Deccan Traps played a role in the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event (also known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction).[7] It was theorized that sudden cooling due to sulfurous volcanic gases released by the formation of the traps and localised gas concentrations may have contributed significantly to the K–Pg, as well as other mass extinctions.[8] However, the current consensus among the scientific community is that the extinction was triggered by the Chicxulub impact event in North America (which would have produced a sunlight-blocking dust cloud that killed much of the plant life and reduced global temperature, called an impact winter).[9]

Work published in 2014 by geologist Gerta Keller and others on the timing of the Deccan volcanism suggests the extinction may have been caused by both the volcanism and the impact event.[10][11] This was followed by a similar study in 2015.[12][13]”

Another example of twisting the facts to suit the fashionable theories of the day.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 11, 2018 6:51 am

A few years ago, I attended a lecture by Dr. Amy Mainzer, an astronomer at JPL, on near earth objects. At one point, she mentioned that the Chicxulub event was “once” thought to have caused global cooling. But , according to her, it has been found that there is a world-wide layer of carbon in the crust that dates to time of Chicxulub. This, she said, proves that the impact caused a world-wide fire that destroyed all surface plant life.

So far, so good. But then she concluded that all of that plant life burning up put a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the resulting global warming was what did the dinos in, so we really have to take CAGW seriously.

At that point, I couldn’t take her astrophysics seriously. If, in fact, all of the plant life burned up, the food chain would collapse and all of the higher animals would starve to death long before any significant temperature change could occur. Why wasn’t that even offered as a possibility?

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
January 11, 2018 8:41 am

CO2 dogma acts as a good filter for scientists that can and cannot think for themselves, a desired trait to have for a scientist.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
January 11, 2018 4:00 pm

She probably had to say something about CO2 and warming to be allowed back into the faculty lounge when she returned home. Having spent 40 years in such lounges I know that far more scientific puzzles are solved there than in the lab or field.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
January 11, 2018 6:46 pm

Occam’s razor says the meteor did it. Fire, then global cooling and anoxic oceans.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
January 11, 2018 8:43 pm

Under that scenario the meat eaters would survive for a month or two on the corpses of the plant eaters.

AGW is not Science
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 12, 2018 9:34 am

You have to keep things straight – when the CO2 level increase is not causing the amount of “expected” warming, you blame volcanoes (sulfate aerosols blocking the sunlight) for the “offsetting” cooling; when the temperature spikes up, THEN you blame the CO2 from the volcanoes for ramping up the supposedly all-powerful “greenhouse effect” and the sulfate aerosols have no effect. /sarc

What (truly!) tangled webs they weave, when trying to deceive.

Peter Foster
January 11, 2018 1:12 am

The problem is that 252 mya was when the extinctions ended. the rate of extinctions started to seriously exceed the rate of new species evolution some 15 my before that. The Siberian traps volcanoes have been accurately dated at 252 mya so could not have contributed to the extinctions before that.
252 mya is the turning point where the rate new species evolution equals the rate of extinctions. After that tie new species evolve faster than extinctions occur.
The increase in rate of extinctions coincides better with the decline in oxygen that happened after the ice age ended at 275 mya.
My bet is that when the ice age ended, melting ice exposed iron in rock that used up the oxygen causing a decline from 35% to 15%. at the time CO2 concentration (300 ppm) was not high enough for photosynthesis to replace the oxygen being consumed. The oceans became anoxic and this was followed by increase in sulfur compounds producing H2S- very toxic.

January 11, 2018 1:18 am

There were a couple of incidents of sudden global heating in the planets past. And there is a lot of discussion on how that could have happened. Most of that is completely ignoring the sun!

The sun is very hot (no shit!). But it is much hotter right underneath its surface. The surface is the place where it loses its energy, giving it a cool skin if you will. Only 10.000km beneath its surface the sun has like 100.000K, at least that is what we believe.
So if we took away the cold skin, just for an instant, we’d get all fried. Remember the Boltzmann law. Just a modestly tiny spot on the sun with a surface temperature of 100.000K would be enough to end all life on earth.

So we must hope there will never by major turbulence in the suns photosphere. And why should there even be? Well, what if and object fell into the sun??? A small meteor will likely not matter, but anything reasonably big, would definitely cause major turbulence and leave hot spot on the sun. That is all it takes.

Reply to  Leitwolf
January 11, 2018 1:25 am

You may want to rethink you whole science on the sun, the surface is around 6000K, the core is 15 million degrees K and the atmospheric corona runs at a couple of million degrees K. All have reasons perhaps you may care to do some reading

Reply to  LdB
January 11, 2018 1:41 am

So what is heating the surface of the sun ? The core or the corona ?

Reply to  LdB
January 11, 2018 1:44 am

Or in this case what is cooling the surface ?

richard verney
Reply to  LdB
January 11, 2018 2:13 am

Are we not told that everything radiates?

What is stopping radiation from the inner parts of the sun?

What is the precise mechanism preventing photons radiating from gases/plasma below the surface finding their way to the surface and beyond?

Does anyone really understand the workings of the sun?

Reply to  LdB
January 11, 2018 9:15 am

RobertVD – there is no surface to the sun.

But the apparent surface, or the wildly churning heliographic surface of the sun is heated from below. There are apparently multiple layers of convective heat transport between the heliographic surface and more coreward heat source. Ultimate pressure defines the viscosity of the sun’s plasma; between that and physics-defined declining center-pulling gravity, the buoyancy of the plasma eventually cannot overcome its viscosity even for the high temperature gradient(s) involved. Between the inner core (where the fusion goes on mostly) and the outer layers is a broad layer or two of non-convective “radiative transfer” plasma that gradually moves heat from fusionland to the surface.


Reply to  LdB
January 11, 2018 11:37 am

The corona may be extremely hot and it does emit some nasty (short wave) radiation for that reason. But it contains only very small amounts of matter (by comparison) after all, so the total amount of energy emitted is quite limited.

January 11, 2018 1:35 am

Can the higher temperature not have been provoked by a heavier atmosphere ? Many suggest that flying dinosaurs would be unable to fly in today’s less dense atmosphere. So the closer you move to the poles the lower would become atmospheric pressure. And how would the rotation speed of earth be influenced by this denser atmosphere ?

Reply to  Robertvd
January 11, 2018 5:04 am

The weight of the atmosphere doesn’t matter, but its volume and height does (of course, all thing equal the heavier the atmosphere, the higher it extends), The curious thing is, adding a non GHG gas like N2 increase the GHE effect. without N2 in the atmosphere, the Earth would be Iceball (because, the average radiating altitude –the place at -18°C the Earth is when seen from space — would only be a few hundred meters above sea level instead of kilometers)
Atmosphere have close to nil effect on Earth rotation

Reply to  Robertvd
January 11, 2018 6:40 am

Is there any evidence to support the conjecture that the atmosphere used to be denser?

Barry Cullen
Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2018 8:03 am

Both Mars and Earth were estimated to have an atmospheric pressure of about 4 Byrs ago of 250 atm (ref ? I don’t remember but that’s par for the course). Today they are 0.001 and 1 respectively. Do the math. (How did 2’ dragonflies remain aloft 250 Myrs ago? Tuataras live on borderline O2 deficiency all the time. I suspect that when they evolved ~200 Myrs ago the partial press of O2 was considerably higher than today)

Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2018 8:41 am

Mars lost it’s magnetic field billions of years ago, when the mag field went, the solar wind was able to strip the atmosphere.
How could 2′ dragon flies fly, the same way 6′ birds do today. By flapping their wings.
The partial pressure of CO2 was a lot greater back then, O2 levels in the atmosphere were about 30% as opposed to the 20% we have today. O2 levels were higher because CO2 levels were higher resulting in more photosynthesis.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2018 9:21 am

The weight of the atmosphere matters — the more mols of gas there are the heavier that column of gas will be (the gas will have higher density in the same gravitational field), or if the Earth had a higher gravity the same amount of gas would weigh more and have higher density at the surface — increasing temperature in all scenarios.

Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2018 1:22 pm

When gas is being compressed it heats up. Once the compression stops, so does the heating. The energy gained through the previous compression is then radiated away.
50% more O2 would only result in an atmosphere that was maybe 10% more dense.

Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2018 1:28 pm

Air, being a compressible fluid, naturally gets less dense as you go up in altitude. Fewer atoms pressing down on it.
Air when warmed, also gets less dense.
However a bundle of air will only begin to rise when the decrease in density due to heating is greater than the decrease in density due to higher altitude, of the air above it.
This is why air at the bottom of a column of air is usually warmer than the air higher up.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
January 11, 2018 1:45 am

This comes across too much as we desperately need to prop up the dangers of global warming because so far people are insufficiently terrorised by our climate colleagues threats and harangues, so let’s cobble up a narrative that the Permian extinction is all down to CO2 and also mAke ourselves popular with Al Gore and his ilk.
several contributors above make good points, especially about timing and volcanoes. And we all know how wonderfully complete the fossil record is don’t we.

Bill Illis
January 11, 2018 2:20 am

The big temperature rise in the Permian peaked at about 265 million years ago, when few extinctions were happening. Temperatures were about 10C higher than today.

At 251.4 million years ago, during the extinctions, temperatures had declined to only a few degrees higher than today. Climate scientists don’t know these numbers of course because they are relying on myths created by others long ago.

Let’s also think of the land geography at the time. One big continent, centred at the equator. Sea level is lower than today due to this alignment and there are no continental shelves for ocean dwelling animals to live on. Sraight down to 3000 metres starting right at the coast almost everywhere. Saharra-like deserts at 5-30 degree latitudes on both sides of the equator which would have been 4 times bigger than the Saharra today on BOTH sides of the equator. At a time when it hotter than today. Ie. nothing lived there at all.

Throw in the biggest volcanoes in the last 4 billion years lasting over a 1 million years and, yeah, extinctions.

January 11, 2018 3:29 am

As with the Deccan traps and the preceding meteorite strike at Chicxulub which led to the demise of the dinosaurs, what and where was the meteorite strike which caused the Siberian traps? It’s been strongly suggested that with every large igneous province there is an associated and immediately preceding meteorite strike on the opposite side of the world which causes it.
Was it not this meteorite that caused the Great Dying?

Reply to  Jeff
January 11, 2018 7:52 am

We will probably never know because it would have impacted on the opposite side of the planet which was in the middle of the ocean. Such an event could have even precipitated the break up of Pangea.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 11, 2018 9:30 am

And that oceanic crust would have been subducted or covered by basalts by now. But I’m with you, I entertain the idea of periodic major asteroid impacts leading the way for cascading catastrophe causing mass extinctions over the notion that the Earth system suddenly goes haywire on its own every few tens to hundred million years.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 11, 2018 12:12 pm

It has been suggested that the Wilkes Land crater under the Antarctic ice is antipodean to Siberia on a Pangaea reconstruction.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 12, 2018 9:05 am

I’ve always suspected that calderas that are not coincident with plate edges, like Yellowstone, Mammoth and others are all the consequence of very, very, large ancient impacts.

January 11, 2018 4:22 am

Most Common Gases released by volcanic eruptions are water vapor (H2O) 75%, carbon dioxide (CO2) barely 1%, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) (1%) are the most common volcanic gases.
Other Gases
In lesser amounts, volcanoes release carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbonyl sulfide (COS), carbon disulfide (CS2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), hydrogen flouride (HF), boron, hydrogen bromine (HBr), mercury (Hg) vapor, organic compounds, even gold. From Cadle (1980).
Mercury is released by most volcanoes and has been measured at Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Hekla, Erebus, at Mount St. Helens (Siegel and Siegel, 1987). Kilauea produces about 270 tons of mercury each year and has been identified as the source for mercury on Oahu, 320 km away. – Source: Volcano World

Some of the reports I’ve found say CO2 is up to 40%. If so, how does water vapor remain the dominant gas by volume? I guess it depends on whether or not natrol is involved. 😉

If CO2 is released by volcanoes during eruptions, SO WHAT????? It’s part of the volcanic process, as is the dispersal of the other gases. What are these silly people going to do, put a cork in the volcano’s caldera? Yeah, that would work really well, wouldn’t it?

I’m sure the authors mean well, but their article clearly indicates that they do not understand the HUUUUUGE differences, geologically, chemically, and otherwise, between a single continental mass (Pangaea, Gondwanaland, Rodinia, etc.) and individual continental formations. There is a massive difference in everything, including atmospheric conditions. There is absolutely no way they can compare Pangaea’s Earthe then to Earth now. Period. There are far too many differences – massive differences – which they are either ignoring or don’t understand at all.

Bob Burban
Reply to  Sara
January 11, 2018 11:12 am

The Laki eruption in Iceland around 1784 injected an estimated 120 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 8 million tons of hydrofluoric acid, and voluminous other toxic compounds into the atmosphere (Wikipedia) … the scientific community has a rough idea as to the number of sub-aerial active/dormant volcanoes on Earth but has no idea as to the number of active/dormant submarine volcanoes. Hard, observational quantitative data on the composition of the liquids and gasses emanating from sub-aerial volcanoes is very patchwork at best and that from submarine volcanoes is virtually non-existent. Where did the nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere come from? I suspect it was probably mantle-derived ammonia but it’s a question that is curiously absent from all discussion on climate and geology.

Reply to  Sara
January 11, 2018 5:18 pm

Bob Burban, I agree. The discovery of so-called ‘black smokers’ at great depths where no life was forecast to even exist, never mind survive in astounding numbers, shocked the entire bio-community.

They were sure there was nothing there. They were wrong. The very gases that are considered “poisonous” and “contaminating” feed those billions of critters at those depths, especially the tube worms. At some point after that, the discovery of thermophiles (heat-loving organisms hiding in cracks far below the ocean surface) was another shocker.

It just proved that Nature has her own way of getting things done and we’re simply sitting on the side, watching and wondering.

Bruce Cobb
January 11, 2018 5:05 am

“This might be helpful in understanding what might happen in the future as we undergo more global warming today.”
Translation: “This Warmist pseudoscience might be helpful in keeping the CAGW Klimate choo-choo gravy train rolling along for at least a little while longer.”
Hope springs eternal with these people. They have pretty much reached the end of the line though.

January 11, 2018 6:24 am

The rapid swings in sea level indicate quick successions of very cold and heat. Volcanism and Sulphur caused the extinctions, cold caused the extinctions. Heat has never ever caused a major extinction. Every single major extinction has “rapid” swings in sea level. Rapid being relative.

The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
January 11, 2018 6:40 am

Re: Peter Foster 0112 hours;
Re: Jeff 0329 hours;
Re: Bill Illis 0220 hours;

At the present time the Geologic Time Scale Foundation puts the end of the Permian at 251.902 mabp (https://engineering.purdue.edu/Stratigraphy/gssp/index.php?parentid=all). The Siberian mafic extrusions date from about 253 through 248 ma, so much of the activity took place in the earliest Triassic.

Peter is correct that the 251.9 age is the END of the extinction event, which had been taking place for the preceding 5 ma (give or take), so almost all of the extinction was disassociated with Siberia.

As several comments have already pointed out, the problem was not “heat”, but “cold”, as sulfate aerosols in the Early Triassic caused a cooling event (Bill’s amazing charts prove this; CO2 was going up, but temperature was going down, right as the transition from Permian-to-Triassic was taking place).

As far as the antipode instigator, the Wilkesland structure off of Antarctica is a candidate (h/t, Dr. P. R. Janke), although the Araganty impact site is proximal to the Siberian event; within the resolution of time constraints, both appear to be ‘in the temporal vicinity’ of the Permo-Triassic event.

Hope that helps, and my regards to all,

The Mostest Deplorable Vlad the Impaler-est, a crashing-est bore and an even bigger-est bully-est (according to C.T. at JoNova)

The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
January 11, 2018 7:15 am

Typo: “Araganty” should be Arganaty.

Jerry Henson
January 11, 2018 6:40 am

Massive volcanic eruptions and heating of the oceans did not happen
as part of a regular cycle. Such a massive change would require a massive
input of energy to the earth’s core.

I believe that a large comet or meteorite strike imparting a massive amount
of heat and vibration to the earth’s core is required for the huge change.

The volcanic eruptions are likely a consequence of the strike on the other side
of the earth from the force of the strike.

The mechanical heating of the earth’s core and oceans would release the
massive stores of natural gas hydrates from their zone of stability, sebsequently
causing a massive rise in in hydrocarbons in the atmosphere and a subsequent
rise in atmospheric CO2.

January 11, 2018 6:43 am

Well CO2 didn’t do it……these morons don’t even know how it works

Richard Wakefield
January 11, 2018 6:49 am

Except the impact crater has been found. Nothing to do with a world too hot.


Jerry Henson
Reply to  Richard Wakefield
January 11, 2018 7:49 am

Thanks for the reference I had not read that paper.

Mark - Helsinki
January 11, 2018 6:58 am

I love it that they dont blame lava and magma, lol there was more of both than CO2 from Siberia

Mark - Helsinki
January 11, 2018 6:58 am

Didn’t the Oman traps also go off around that period?

Mark - Helsinki
January 11, 2018 7:01 am

Look at the stud, there is no actual evidence for this “The huge volcanoes erupting in Siberia belched thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, setting off a chain reaction that involved global warming, acid rain, and loss of oxygen from the sea bed.”

Agenda science

Eric H
January 11, 2018 7:29 am

OK. I don’t post here much, just read a lot. How can the authors publish this paper with a straight face? Climatists (that is my word for “climate scientist”, since IMO they don’t do any real empirical science so they cant be called “scientist”. Also it has a certain religious ring to it…) have stated in the past that volcanoes cause cooling i.e. Pinatubo, Eyjafjallajökull, etc. So if these recent volcanoes cause cooling of the temperature record, how the hell can the Siberian volcanic eruption cause Global Warming??

Is there some sort of “tipping point” in eruption size that switches it from a Cooling event to a Warming event? /sarc

Bill Illis
January 11, 2018 7:34 am

If one is thinking about an anti-podal asteroid impact point causing the Siberian Traps volcanoes, first you have to go back to the geography that existed at that time.

The Siberian Traps region was about where Finland is today. Antipodal to where Finland is today would be about where New Zealand is today.

But New Zealand was attached to Pangea on its southeast side at that time and then moved to the south pole and then moved back out into the Pacific starting 80 million years ago. So New Zealand has overridden the previous place that was anti-podal to the Siberian Traps at the volcanic activity timeline.

But then, the Pacific ocean plate that New Zealand has overridden has also been moving since that time. It is moving north-west. The exact location that would have been the actual impact site 250 million years ago is probably very close to between the Philippines and Indonesia now.

Anybody see a giant crater on the Pacific floor between the Philippines and Indonesia?

Jerry Henson
Reply to  Bill Illis
January 11, 2018 7:54 am

The angle of the impact would have a big influence on the resultanting
concentration of force.

Reply to  Bill Illis
January 11, 2018 8:46 am

Impacts that large don’t leave craters.

Bill Illis
Reply to  MarkW
January 11, 2018 10:42 am

Sure they do. This is the biggest impact crater that we know about – Vredefort in South Africa from a 10 km asteroid strike 2.0 billion years ago.
comment image

Reply to  Bill Illis
January 11, 2018 12:42 pm

There is no sea-floor that old anywhere in the World, so a deep-ocean impact would long ago have been subducted. As a matter of fact it is the absence of an 250 ma old seafloor that makes all this wild guessing possible, since there are no good continuous, undisturbed deposits that span the citical interval.

Reply to  Bill Illis
January 11, 2018 12:45 pm

By the way there is evidence for a large impact at about the right time at Graphite Peak in Antarctica, but no crater (except the hypothetical Wilkes land structure).

January 11, 2018 8:38 am

Would someone please turn down the sensationalist science reporting.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 11, 2018 5:23 pm

Yeah, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it? But if the They (Warmians, CAGWers, Greenbeans) aren’t allowed to shout, jump and down and point, and do other silly things, the more reasoning souls won’t have any way to refute them. Think how much stuff has been pulled up to public scrutiny now, to refute the pseudo-ideological twaddle and show it for what it is – a money grab?

January 11, 2018 8:44 am

“The availability of rock”
Western North America was a desert like the Sahara in the late Permian. We see it in the Kiabab, De Chelly, White Rim, and Park City sandstones. All this was 5-10 degrees N latitude. Certainly not surprising there would be an exodus, and not good for preserving tracks.

Far from being grouped at the equator, the continents were meridional with a modest equatorial waist band extending from western North America to North Africa.

The availability of mud is more relevant for the preservation of tracks and fossils.

Bob Burban
January 11, 2018 11:30 am

The Earth’s surface is roughly 70% water and the question arises: where did it come from? I suspect the mantle. But that water is also very salty, so where did all that chlorine come from?

Reply to  Bob Burban
January 11, 2018 1:33 pm

What seems to be the current agreed upon theory is that the water came from comets and asteroids during the late heavy bombardment phase.
The sodium and chloride were leached from the rocks over the last 4 billion years or so.

Bob Burban
January 11, 2018 11:30 am

The Earth’s surface is roughly 70% water and the question arises: where did it come from? I suspect the mantle. But that water is also very salty, so where did all that chlorine come from?

January 11, 2018 11:40 am

Is there any other ‘volcanic eruption’ that causes warming, anywhere? I can’t imagine Dr Massimo Bernardi and Professor Mike Benton being the first to discover ‘volcanic eruption’ cause warming not cooling.

Reply to  smalliot
January 11, 2018 11:22 pm

I think volcanoes were not involved. The great eruptions that created the Steps and Deccan Traps, and the great flows that buried Washington, Oregon, and California were massive tears in the earth, not the snow blanketed tourist havens we see along the ring of fire today.

January 11, 2018 12:34 pm

I think they have forgotten one of the most basic rules of Paleontology: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

By their reasoning e. g. dinosaurs went extinct more than once. There are several intervals during the Mesozoic lasting as much as a million years from which there is not a single dinosaur fossil known from anywhere in the World.

It is interesting to compare with the latest Maastrichtian, the time immediately before the K-Pg extinction and see how widespread dinosaur fossils are. Remember that this is a much more recenrt epoch with a vastly better fossil record, that has been intensively studied.

So of course we have world-wide data for where dinosaurs occurred just before the big extinction? Well, not exactly. What we have is mostly the Hell Creek formation in Montana and the Dakotas. There are practically no latest Maastrichtian dinosaurs from anywhere else in the World. There may be a few in New Mexico, but the dating is shaky, and some more in Southern China, but the dating is very shaky there.

January 11, 2018 3:03 pm

Jeff in Calgary January 11, 2018 at 8:15 am said:

“…I thought recent CONSENSUS science was that that extinction was caused by a meteor…”

You may be thinking of the Dinosaur extinction of 65 million years ago.

I just watched a program on CBC ICI Explora about two expeditions to Tunguska, Siberia, trying to prove competing explanations for the explosion of 1908.

The group from Italy adhered to the generally held view, that an extraterrestrial body exploded 11km above the spot, explaining the tree trunks still standing at ground zero, while all the forest around was flattened outward. Their contribution brought some previously unknown mystery to the explanation though, in the form of a crater shaped lake nearby which appears to have been formed at the same time. The preliminary suggestion was that part of the asteroid or meteorite broke off and hit the ground instead of vapourizing.

The American group was trying to prove that the 1908 event was caused by a minor “verneshot” incident occurring at the place where a huge vernshot occurred 250 million year previous causing the mass extinction of that era. The proof they were looking for was shocked quartz, and apparently they found it, in the form of a large boulder of sandstone on the peak of a small mountain of basalt. How this relates to the telephone post
trees was not explained. Or perhaps I missed it, since my French is a bit shaky. But the explanation offered is that the boulder was shot out of a vent during the 1908 event from its previous location 800 meters below.

January 11, 2018 4:51 pm

CO2 was nothing to so with the P-T extinction.

But Prof Benton’s finding of reptiles moving away from the equator to higher latitudes is important and makes sense.

When they say “the ocean got a lot hotter” do they have any idea what they are even saying? The vast ocean heat capacity means this is easier said than done. Even sustained volcanism would not be expected to raise global ocean temperature by 10 degrees. And CO2 doen not drive ocean temperatures but merely follows them as a proxy.

No – the clumping of land into a single roughly isometric continent would mean that the uninterrupted featureless ocean over the rest of the globe would probably have lacked any deep thermo-haline circulation (THC) such as we have today largely driven by meridional deep and surface currents in the meridionally bounded Atlantic ocean. A point may have been reached during the clumping of landmass that the weakening of ocean circulation caused two effects. One was a failure of poleward heat transport from the equator, so that ocean heat was stagnantly trapped around the equator. The second was that the seas became largely anoxic. It is known that the almost total extinction of live in the ocean at the end-Permian – 98-99% while on land extinction was 93-94% – is due to ocean anoxia. The sea surface changed from blue-green to brown-orange in colour, black below about 10m.

No more marine photosynthesis, so atmospheric oxygen level may have dipped significantly.

(Can anyone confirm whether decreased oxygen % in the atmosphere was a feature of the end Permian extinction?)

Living species in an ecosystem are linked by trophic links (eating and getting eaten) in a chaotic nonlinear network. A consequence of this is fractal scale instability. Put simply, one species extinction may have no effect on any other species. Another extinction may cause also the extinction of a species that predated on the extincted species, and perhaps a handful of other similar species. Occasionally, extinction of one species can set off a chain of hundreds or thousands of extinctions. Even more rarely such a chain of extinctions might attain the level of a mass extinction.

Although we habitually think of mass extinctions as needing a big physical stress to the planet and climate to set them off (and are politically and vacuously mandated to invent a CO2 event for this) the model of species extinctions based on the theory of nonlinear networks allows a mass extinction to happen spontaneously with no external stressor.

But the overall point is that the end Permian extinction was driven by ocean anoxia accompanied possibly by lowered atmospheric oxygen, starting in the sea and setting off a chain of extinctions on land.

January 11, 2018 11:17 pm

Maybe I’m just nitpicking, but I doubt any slitherins packed up and moved anywhere. The zones of thrivation (coined in this very post) moved north and south, and reptiles already in or near those zones thrived and morphed. Those outside didn’t. Those on the margins did so-so.

Reply to  dp
January 11, 2018 11:57 pm

Yes there was no “Reptile flow” climate migtration in the style of “The Day After Tomorrow”, these changes would have occurred incrementally over thousands of lizard generations.

January 15, 2018 6:16 pm

This paper assumes that it was CO2 from the Siberian traps that caused the massive global warming of the end Permian, but they have no proof of this. Just as CO2 hasn’t been proven by the use of hard data to have caused the abrupt warming of the last three centuries of the 20th century, something else could have been the actual cause. The only reasonable choice here is chlorine and bromine in the form of HCl and HBr, which is emitted by non-explosive, basaltic volcanoes of the type that characterized the subaerial Siberian traps. These halogen hydrides are photodissociated on polar stratospheric clouds to produce monatomic chlorine and bromine, which destroy ozone catalytically until reaction with methane finally removes them from the stratosphere. The resulting thinning of the ozone shield allows an increased influx of solar UV-B radiation, which causes severe sunburn, genetic defects, and, surprise, surprise, global warming! This mechanism fits the modern temperature time series far better than CO2, and there’s no reason to suppose that it wasn’t equally effective 250 million years ago.

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