Dinosaurs Choked on Ozone
At the start, it seems hard to make a potent mass murderer out of a gas that is just three little oxygen atoms bounds together. And we all know about the ultraviolet-shielding effect of the ozone layer high in the stratosphere. Very helpful for life, that is.
But problems start when you bring O3 down near the surface. Mix together a soup of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and sunlight (the first two make up your basic car exhaust) and presto, we can find ourselves swimming in the stuff, especially in urban areas. No one knows what safe levels are, but medical studies suggest that lung tissue gets inflamed and damaged quickly at or around 100 parts per billion of O3.
A new study in the journal Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology puts forth the idea that the Chicxulub impact, long blamed for the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous era 65 million years ago, could have done them in by flinging huge amounts of ozone precursor chemicals -- nitrogen oxides, methane, and other hydrocarbons -- into the air.
According to the researchers' simulation, the impact could have produced enough ozone to raise concentrations in the atmosphere to over 1,000 parts per billion (or 1 part per million), about 10 times the dangerous level for people).
comments powered by Disqus
- New museum in Poland -- the grandest space created since 1989 -- tells the story of the Jews
- Lewinsky mistreated by authorities in investigation of Clinton, report says
- Scientists Say Proof Of Jack The Ripper's Identity Is Fatally Flawed
- Memorial for black Revolutionary War soldiers finds spot on Mall after 30 years
- Sherlock Holmes star to feature in a new movie about Alan Turning
- How Laurel Thatcher Ulrich caught up with the past
- Postal Workers Take on Harvard President, historian Drew Faust
- Symposium held in honor of John D’Emilio
- Thousands of Historic Archives from British Asylums to Go Online
- American Studies Association boycott of Israel: Conservatives say it’s weakening