A recent study revealed that Earth It managed to regulate its temperature over hundreds of thousands of years to keep it within a habitable range, and the planet contains a constant feedback mechanism that is able to prevent climate crisis over long time scales, and this is believed to be done through what is called “silicate weathering”, It is a geological process that involves the slow and continuous weathering of silicate rocks. Chemical reactions pull carbon from the atmosphere into ocean sediments, thus trapping the gas in the rocks.
The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, are based on a study of paleoclimate data that records fluctuations in average global temperatures over the past 66 million years.
The researchers applied mathematical analysis to determine whether the data revealed any patterns that would show stabilizing phenomena to maintain global temperatures over a very long time line.
They found that there appears to be a consistent pattern whereby the planet’s temperature fluctuations diminish over hundreds of thousands of years, a period similar to the time scales over which silicate weathering is thought to operate.
The planet’s climate is also undergoing many dramatic external changes, but why has life survived so long? One argument is that we need some kind of stabilization mechanism to keep temperatures suitable for life, said Konstantin Arnskedt, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).
“However, it has not been proven from the data that such a mechanism has continuously controlled the Earth’s climate,” the researcher added.
From previous research, scientists have observed the movement of carbon into and out of the Earth’s surface environment to remain relatively even, despite fluctuations in global temperatures.
Scientists believe we are currently in a warming period and have urged policymakers to enact a range of changes to reduce carbon emissions or become carbon neutral.
Arnskedt and colleagues analyzed the history of average global temperatures over 66 million years to look at a range of different time scales, including tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years, to see if any stabilizing patterns emerged at each time scale.
“To some extent, it’s as if your car is accelerating down the street, and when you hit the brakes, you’re sliding for a long time before you come to a stop,” Daniel Rothman, a professor of geophysics at MIT, said in a statement, adding, “There is a time scale in which you start resistance, or stable feedback, at which point the system returns to a steady state.”
Although scientists have long suspected that silicate weathering could help maintain our planet’s carbon cycle, this is the first time they have observed direct evidence of the mechanism.