UTA Examines Past Events to Gain Insight into Current Climate Change
By UT Arlington University Communications
Posted on May 13, 2016, May 13, 2016
UTA Examines Past Events

From left, Elizabeth Griffith, a UTA assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences; Arne Winguth, UTA associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; and Cornelia Winguth, a lecturer in the same department.

A team of scientists led by researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington is examining global warming events that happened millions of years ago in order to gain new insights into present-day climate change.

The National Science Foundation' s Division of Ocean Sciences has awarded a $403,114 grant to Arne Winguth, UTA associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, for a three-year study titled " Evaluating Deep-Sea Ventilation and the Global Carbon Cycle during Early Paleogene Hyperthermals."

Winguth is joined on the project by co-investigators Elizabeth Griffith, a UTA assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, and his wife Cornelia Winguth, a lecturer in the same department. The project focuses on the Early Paleogene, the period of time roughly 66 million to 45 million years ago, when rapid, short-term global warming events, called hyperthermals, were caused by large amounts of greenhouse gases being released into the ocean-atmosphere system. Hyperthermals had far-reaching effects on the evolution of life of Earth, ecosystems and the carbon cycle.

" Hyperthermals resemble what could happen during anthropogenic or human-caused climate change, and provide analogs for the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and their long-term effects on life on Earth," Arne Winguth said. " By testing earth system interactions during the Paleogene hyperthermals, this interdisciplinary project will provide new insight into global climate-carbon cycle feedbacks and extremes in climate."

College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said that the project could help scientists better understand the processes which can lead to climate change.

" This is a great example of how studying the Earth' s distant geological past can give us clues about things going on now, or things that can happen in the future," Khaledi said. " The integration of data and modeling being done in this project could yield important information about climate change."

The UTA team is collaborating with Ellen Thomas, a University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and Pincelli Hull, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics at Yale University.

The NSF project also includes an outreach component with Arlington Seguin High School. The Winguths gave a presentation at the school and led a field trip of Seguin students to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas in early April 2016.

Arne Winguth and students from Seguin are meeting weekly to develop an outreach webpage and online educational tools on abrupt climate change related to the project. The goal of this part of the project is to enhance training in quantitative science for undergraduate and high school students from diverse backgrounds, he said.

Click here to read more about the project.

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