The latest research, published in Nature Communications, reveals a previously unknown mechanism that influences Earth’s climate.
It applies a new analytical model developed by three Hebrew University researchers two years ago, which focuses on wind-driven circulation in the ocean interior and emphasizes the critical role of ocean basin geometry .
This study examines the climate during the Cretaceous period, between 145 and 66 million years ago, when there was a lot of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) in the air. It has been observed how large ocean eddies, which move warm water from the tropics to the poles, influence the temperature difference between these two regions. This difference in temperature is important to understanding why there were so many different types of plants and animals during the Cretaceous period.
In their research, the scientists sought to uncover the complex relationship between changes in ocean current patterns (rotating circulation) resulting from the arrangement of Earth’s continents and changes in temperature gradients during the Cretaceous, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. To do this, they performed a complete analysis using computer models that simulated ancient climates.
Their findings reveal that the movement of Earth’s continents during the Cretaceous period caused a slowdown in the large, swirling ocean currents responsible for transporting warm water from the equator to the poles.
This slowing changed the way the ocean controlled its surface temperature, resulting in a large increase in temperature differences between the poles and the tropics at that time.
These findings are consistent with geological evidence from the Cretaceous period, which provides a more complete understanding of past climatic conditions.