The Asteroid that Killed Dinosaurs Also Caused Global Warming

When an asteroid crashed into the Earth almost 66 million years ago, not only it caused the extinction of dinosaurs, but it also made temperatures rise all over the globe. Earth’s temperature was increased by 5°C, and it stayed that way for 100,000 years.

Years after the asteroid crashed, it caused the Earth to burn and spread wildfires everywhere. There was so much ash that it covered the skies and blocked the sun. That’s when for a few years, there was a perpetual dark winter. Then, the global warming happened, just like what we’re experiencing today.

It Happened Faster Than Our Present-Day Global Warming

Ken MacLeod of the University of Missouri in Columbia, explains how his team finally found how the planet got warmer:

“The warming would likely have happened even faster than warming today. It’s a much closer natural experiment to what we are doing today.”

MacLeod and his team found that answer in rocks in Tunisia, in a place where Tethys Sea once existed.

They analyzed the ratio of oxygen isotopes in ancient fish teeth, bones, and scales from the rock. That’s how they could find out what was the temperature of the water back then. But the results were confusing. The fossils showed a lower CO2 level than expected. Climate models suggest that for an increase in temperature of 5°C, the CO2 level has to be almost around 2300 parts per million. The fossils had less than a half of the CO2 level.

With such a low level of CO2, the researchers believe that global warming could be caused by lower levels of CO2. MacLeod added that scientists are not sure how strong CO2 impacts the climate.

A Combination of Various Factors

However, the team could have overestimated the rise of temperature, says Johan Vellekoop of KU Leuven, Belgium:

“It’s always the combination of the factors,” he added, suggesting that the impact and the chain reactions are what killed most of the planet’s flora and fauna.

Other researchers argue that it’s also the huge volcanic eruptions that also impacted the extinction of the dinosaurs, and MacLeod wants to analyze if the temperatures also rose during that time, changing the global climate.

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.