DAVIS (CBS SF) – The effects of climate change on the world’s seas could be felt thousands of years from now, not just in the immediate future, according to research from the University of California, Davis.

Researchers came to their conclusion after studying ocean life off the California coast that lived before, during and after the glaciers receded. Sarah Moffitt of the school’s Bodega Marine Laboratory and Coastal and Marine Sciences institute and her team examined 5,400 fossils of collected in sediment. The animals lived between 3,400 to 16,100 years ago.

During that period, there was a period of abrupt warming and oxygen loss in the oceans. When oxygen levels fell, the researchers found a rapid loss of biodiversity and fossils nearly disappearing from the record.

“These past events show us how sensitive ecosystems are to changes in Earth’s climate — it commits us to thousands of years of recovery,” Moffitt said in a university statement. “It shows us what we’re doing now is a long-term shift — there’s not a recovery we have to look forward to in my lifetime or my grandchildren’s lifetime.”

The research has been published in the March 30th edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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