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The Oceans: A Deep History

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1 2 Origins 15 Building a Planet, Shaping the Oceans 16 Water, Salt, and Circulation 31 Life, Oxygen, and Carbon 45 3 Controls On Change 56 Orbital and Solar Changes 62 Greenhouse Gases 69 Plate Tectonics 79 Impacts 80 4 Snowball Earth And The Explosions Of Life 82 Into the Freezer 83 Out of the Freezer, Into a Greenhouse 93 A Tale of Two Explosions 95 Reverberations 99 5 Oceans On Acid 109 About Acidification 111 Acidification in Action 118 6 The Age Of Reptiles 126 Choking Oceans 134 Salty Giants 153 7 Winter Is Coming 162 Reconstructing Sea-Level Change 168 The Great Northern Ice Ages 174 Ocean Controls on CO2 178 A Seesaw in the Ocean 185 8 Future Oceans And Climate 192 Our Carbon Emissions 192 Consequences 199 Epilogue 215 Acknowledgments 219 Bibliography 221 Index 251

About the Author

Eelco J. Rohling is professor of ocean and climate change in the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University and at the University of Southampton's National Oceanography Centre Southampton.


Rohling's work is extensive and informative.--Publishers Weekly The Oceans: A Deep History oozes with the enthusiasm and passion that Eelco has for geology and palaeoceanography and the awe that he has for how the Earth came to be what it is today. . . . A brilliantly masterminded book, full of necessary detail that builds a compelling argument from 4.6 billion years of evidence and which culminates in an undeniable conclusion.---Jennifer D. Stanford, The Holocene The Oceans is extremely thorough, appropriately so for a topic of such profundity. The book also covers a tremendous amount of ground with dizzying speed.--Foreword Reviews "In relating the long history of the oceans in the context of climate, Rohling brings together the important idea that climate control on long timescales is a mix of tectonics, ocean circulation, and carbon storage--with carbon storage being a euphemism for 'How much CO2 is in the atmosphere?'"--Elisabeth L. Sikes, Rutgers University "In this compelling book, prominent paleoceanographer Eelco Rohling provides the perspective needed to understand the current and future health of our oceans and their role in our rapidly evolving new world."--Paul Andrew Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine "Oceans are the vehicle of climate change--on land and sea. Rohling's presentation of the ocean's history--and thus our climate's history--is erudite yet accessible to a broad audience interested in the future of our planet."--James E. Hansen, Earth Institute, Columbia University In an incredibly detailed 262-page hardcover volume titled The Oceans: A Deep History, Rohling shakes up every reader who . . . [dives] into the massive amount of worrisome information---Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, The Jerusalem Post The density of information and Rohling's clear, concise explanations make for exhilarating reading, not least because his delight in his subject matter is so palpable. Most importantly though, Rohling's long view makes clear the vast scope of the transformation of the oceans taking place around us, underlining not just the effect on ecosystems and biodiversity, but also its geological scale.---James Bradley, The Australian For science readers looking for something new, [The Oceans] is a treat.---John Farrell,, If you want to understand the planet and climate change, this book is for you.---John R. Platt, EcoWatch Paleoceanography, Rohling's area of expertise, is the study of ancient oceans and ancient climates as they changed and developed together over geologic time. It involves analyzing data like layers of sediment taken from the seabed. Much alarming information can be learned this way, as Rohling demonstrates, about how today's oceans are likely to respond to climate change--with greater acidification, sea-level rise, mass extinction and so forth. But because storms leave no geological record, the precise effect of global warming on hurricanes is harder to gauge. Still, Rohling is confident that the combination of rising sea levels and some form of increased storm intensity 'spells doom' for the world's coastal regions. For surfers, rooting for hurricane swell may be increasingly difficult to rationalize.---James Ryerson, New York Times

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