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!