An international study led by researchers at the University of Lund in Sweden found that a collision in the asteroid belt 470 million years ago created dramatic changes in the life of the Earth.
The fracture of a basic asteroid fills the entire internal solar system with huge amounts of dust, leading to a unique glacial age and subsequently to higher levels of biodiversity. The unexpected discovery may be important to cope with global warming if we are unable to reduce our carbon footprint.
Over the last few decades, researchers have begun to understand that the evolution of life on Earth is also dependent on astronomical events. One example is when dinosaurs are instantly wiped out by a Cretaceous-Paleogene impact on a 10 km asteroid.
For the first time, scientists can provide another example of how an extraterrestrial event shapes life on Earth. 470 million years ago, a 1
The blocking effect of the dust partially suppressed the sunlight reaching the Earth and began the glacial period. The climate has changed from more or less homogeneous to the separation of climatic zones – from Arctic pole to tropical equatorial conditions.
The great diversity of invertebrates has emerged as an adaptation to the new climate triggered by a burst asteroid.
"It is similar to standing in the middle of your living room and smashing your vacuum cleaner bag on a much larger scale," explains Birger Schmidt, a professor of geology at Lund University and head of research.
An important method that led to the discovery is the measurements of extraterrestrial helium included in the fossil sediments of the seabed at Kinnekulle in southern Sweden. On its way to Earth, the dust was enriched with helium when it was bombed by the solar wind.
"This result was completely unexpected. Over the past 25 years, we have relied on many different hypotheses as to what has happened. It wasn't until we got the latest measurements of helium that everything was in place, "says Birger Schmidt.
Global warming continues due to carbon dioxide emissions and temperature increases are greatest at high latitudes. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are approaching a situation reminiscent of the conditions that prevailed with the asteroid 470 million years ago.
For the last decade or more, researchers have been discussing various arts In the case of a major climatic catastrophe, modelers have shown that it would be possible to place asteroids, like satellites, in orbits around the Earth in such a way that they continually release fine dust and thus partially "
" Our results show for the first time that such dust has cooled the Earth dramatically. Our research can provide a more detailed, empirically grounded understanding of how it works, and this in turn can be used to evaluate whether model simulations are realistic, "concludes Birger Schmidt.
In addition to the University of Lund, in The following universities and organizations were included in the study: California Institute of Technology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Natural History Museum, University of Chicago, Ohio State University, Universityité Libre de Bruxelles, Russian Academy of Sciences, Federal University of Kazan, Royal and Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Durham University, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Center for Comparative Planet Gy China, ETH Zurich, Naturmuseum St. Gallen Switzerland, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. : Powder from the decay of the parent body of L-chondrite
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