How fast is the Earth’s thermostat? Study shows significant changes in weathering

03.06.2014

In a joint study, Dr. Daniel S. Goll and Dr. Victor Brovkin from Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and Dr. Nils Moosdorf and Prof. Jens Hartmann from University of Hamburg, show that significant changes in weathering have occurred since the industrial revolution.

Sandstone of the 'Saxon Switzerland' is an obvious example how weathering shapes the landscape - its influence on our climate is more complex. (Photo: Dr. Davide Zanchettin, MPI-M)

The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is intimately linked to global climate: increased CO2 causes a rise in surface temperature and an intensification of the water cycle. These climatic changes increase the chemical weathering of rocks, which in turn reduces the atmospheric CO2 concentration. This is called the climate-weathering feedback. As this feedback stabilizes the CO2 concentration and temperature, it is also referred to as the "Earth's thermostat". This thermostat works on a timescale of hundred thousands of years...

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