What drives Ocean Oxygenation? Is it driven by atmospheric oxygen levels or something else?
Until today, it was considered that the oxygenation of the oceans throughout geological timeframes was primarily driven by atmospheric oxygen levels.
However, a recent study that was released in the journal Nature, raises doubts.
Scientists from the Biogeosciences Laboratory (CNRS/UBFC) and their colleagues at the University of California’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences have discovered that tectonic plate movement has most likely contributed to ocean oxygenation.
To demonstrate this, scientists constructed a three-dimensional climate model to replicate Earth’s conditions from 540 million years ago to the present day, taking ocean circulation currents into consideration.
The scientists changed the positioning of the continents in their model while maintaining a consistent level of atmospheric oxygen.
As a result, despite a steady quantity of oxygen in the atmosphere, the concentration of oxygen in the oceans increased.
Thus, the current study demonstrates for the first time that marine and atmospheric oxygen levels are substantially unrelated to one another.
These results highlight the hitherto underappreciated contribution of plate tectonics to the evolution of biodiversity in the oceans over geological time scales because oxygen is essential to marine life.
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