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Polar winter: A biological model for impact events and related dark/cold climatic changes

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-173
Number of pages23
JournalClimatic Change
Volume41
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999

Abstract

Models of the climatic perturbation caused by a large scale extraterrestrial impact predict an injection of dust into the stratosphere. This would cause the onset of environmental conditions whose two principal characteristics are a prolonged period of darkness and reduced global temperatures. Similar scenarios follow large scale volcanic eruptions, wildfires and they are predicted for a nuclear winter following a protracted nuclear exchange. A significant drop in temperature and solar insolation are also characteristics of the polar winter. In this paper the onset and emergence from the polar winter is examined as a potential biological framework for studying immediate biological effects following transition into and out of a dark/cold catastrophe. Limitations of the conceptual model, particularly with respect to the fact that polar organisms are well adapted to a regular and severe dark/cold climatic change (which the rest of the Earth's biota is not) are discussed. The model has implications for the poles as an extinction refuge during such climatic changes.

    Research areas

  • ANTARCTIC SEA-ICE, CRETACEOUS-TERTIARY EXTINCTIONS, PSYCHROPHILIC MARINE BACTERIUM, MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES, STARVATION-SURVIVAL, WEDDELL SEA, NUTRIENT STARVATION, SEASONAL-CHANGES, GROWTH-RATE, PHYTOPLANKTON

ID: 25229655