Rise in sea temperature caused the death of 96% marine life and it could happen again

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Picture: Bernard Spragg

The end of the Permian period, about 252 million years ago, was a terrible time for life on Earth.

Scientists believe that a series of violent volcanic eruptions occurred in what is now Siberia, injecting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which heated the planet.

About 96 percent of the ocean’s creatures and 70 percent of the terrestrial species that lived in the Pangea supercontinent became extinct in a matter of several thousand years.

“In the usual emission scenarios, by the year 2100, warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of the warming by the end of the Permian, and by 2300, it will reach between 35 and 50 percent,” said Penn. “This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction derived from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change.”

At the speed that the Earth is currently losing species, some researchers have argued that the next massive extinction event is already under way.

Scientific report: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6419/eaat1327.editor-summary

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