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Droplets rising from the Champagne vent on the ocean floor in the Mariana Islands. Fluids venting from the site contain dissolved carbon dioxide. NOAA Ocean Explorer

Deep sea carbon reservoirs once superheated the Earth – could it happen again?

Climate scientists now consider the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, a major global warming event that occurred about 55 million years ago, to be an analog for environmental changes taking place today. The PETM happened over a longer period and without human involvement, but it shows that there is inherent instability in the climate system if carbon from geologic reservoirs is released rapidly.

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