Dinosaur Flatulence Caused Pre-historic Warming?

A lighter note on the global warming issue is to be found today’s Telegraph. (also at BBC, Foxnews, inhabitat, The Scotsman) Seems that methane emissions may have been a bigger problem pre-history.

”A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,” said study leader Dr Dave Wilkinson, from Liverpool John Moores University.

It is speculative, but how far much warming was this? The article says

Scaling up, assuming a global vegetated area of 75 x 106km2 (equivalent to half the total land area), gives global methane production from sauropods of 520 Tg (520 million tonnes). This is comparable to the total modern-day methane emission. For comparison, total pre-industrial Holocene global methane emission was roughly 200 Tg per year, capable of sustaining an atmospheric methane mixing ratio of about 0.7 ppm, and the modern mixing ratio of about 1.8 ppm is supported by roughly 500–600 Tg of global emission.

The IPCC estimates that current methane levels produce (with feedbacks) about 0.4 degrees of warming. Using Idso 1998, this reduces to 0.05 degrees. Either way a quite trivial amount. What is noted is that the number of dinosaurs is huge, as the temperatures and CO2 levels were much higher than today. Without the icecaps there was more available land, and with more verdant vegetation (again both due to temperature and CO2) the animal mass supportable was much higher.

In other words, higher CO2 and temperatures are good for both flora and fauna.

Maybe Josh can to an appropriate dinosaur cartoon – like the recent one below!


  1. Brian H

     /  08/05/2012

    Gah. How many variations on the same BS can they spin out? I fear we’ll have to endure a large representative sampling.

    BTW; ‘grats, you almost made it thru the whole post:

    “Josh can to an appropriate…”
    “to” don’t be not any kinda no verb. >:p

    • manicbeancounter

       /  08/05/2012

      We shouldn’t be too harsh on these peripheral scientists. A “climate change” spin gets them the funding to do the work they love. To be consistent they just miss out the crucial figures that show it is insignificant. Subversively, it shows the opposite. Animal greenhouse gases had very little impact on climate, whilst high levels of CO2 & higher temperatures, far from being catastrophic to flora & fauna, were of net benefit.

      Having reached adulthood in the dying days of the Soviet Empire, I know that when people have to toe the party line, they are also subversive.
      Alternatively, one could say real science comes through despite the political spin. You just analayze the numbers, not the words

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