James Zachos and Ellen Thomas, awarded for discovering the prehistoric greenhouse effect

James Zachos and Ellen Thomas, awarded for discovering the prehistoric greenhouse effect

The American paleoclimatologists James Zachos and Ellen Thomas have been awarded this Wednesday with the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award on Climate Change. His investigations made it possible to discover a ‘greenhouse effect’ from 56 million years ago that “allows us to predict the destructive impacts of the current global warming caused by humans”, the jury highlighted.


Joan Guerrero and Cesare Pace warn of the consequences of global warming

Cesare Pace

Zachos, a scientist at the University of California at Santa Cruz (United States) and Thomas, from Yale University and Wesleyan University (USA) discovered in the 1990s an anomalous episode in the history of the planet in which they produced massive emissions of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere and the global temperature rose between 5 and 6ºC. The event, possibly triggered by volcanic activity, made the oceans more acidic and triggered one of the largest known extinctions of deep-sea organisms in the planet’s history.

His discoveries have served to verify models of global warming

This episode has been a key reference to solidify the numerical models that are used today to predict the future evolution of the climate. His findings on the so-called ‘Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’ “have served to verify theoretical models of global warming and demonstrate the potential implications of a serious disturbance in the planet’s climate,” he noted.

The winners stated that “the destructive impact of that event should serve as a warning to reduce current greenhouse gas emissions and thus avoid the worst scenarios of global warming, such as rising sea levels, floods, droughts, extreme weather events and loss of biodiversity.

New avenue of research

“Zachos and Thomas’ research has laid the foundations for the climate change prediction models that are currently being used,” explained the professor of Paleontology at the University of Zaragoza and an academic at the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Naturales, Laia Alegret, who nominated the researchers for said award.

The award-winning work has marked a new path of research to analyze the impacts of climate change. “It opened a new line of work that hundreds of researchers have followed and that has made the headlines of articles in the best scientific journals,” Alegret specified.

read also

Antonio Cerrillo

Copernicus: the ozone hole in the southern hemisphere exceeds the size of Antarctica

Asked if the current human-caused greenhouse effect could trigger global warming as massive as Earth has gone through in the past, Zachos said “it certainly could happen if we continue to burn fossil fuels.” However, the scientist is convinced that “we are still in time” to remedy this situation and concluded by stating that “we could avoid it by reducing carbon emissions, making a transition towards the use of renewable energies, as is being attempted right now to minimize global warming.

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards are endowed with 400,000 euros in each of its eight categories that recognize and encourage contributions of singular impact in science, technology, the humanities and music.

Read Original Source Here…

Scroll to Top