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Large-scale ocean deoxygenation during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

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Science  19 Jul 2018:
eaar8658
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar8658

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Abstract

The consequences of global warming for fisheries are not well understood, but the geological record demonstrates that carbon cycle perturbations are frequently associated with ocean deoxygenation. Of particular interest is the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) where the CO2 input into the atmosphere was similar to the IPCC RCP8.5 emission scenario. Here we present sulfur-isotope data which record a positive 1 ‰ excursion during the PETM. Modeling suggests that significant parts of the ocean must have become sulfidic. The toxicity of hydrogen sulfide will render two of the largest and least explored ecosystems on Earth, the mesopelagic and bathypelagic zones, uninhabitable by multi-cellular organisms. This will affect many marine species whose eco-zones stretch into the deep ocean.

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