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It has often been said that we know more about the moon than we do about our own oceans. In fact, we know a great deal more about the oceans than many people realise. Scientists know that our actions today are shaping the oceans and climate of tomorrow – and that if we continue to act recklessly, the consequences will be dire.
In this timely and accessible book, Eelco Rohling traces the 4.4-billion-year history of Earth's oceans while also shedding light on the critical role they play in our planet's climate system. Beginning with the formation of primeval Earth and the earliest appearance of oceans, Rohling takes readers on a journey through prehistory to the present age, vividly describing the major events in the ocean's evolution – from snowball and greenhouse Earth to the end-Permian mass extinction, the breakup of the Pangaea supercontinent, and the changing climate of today.
Along the way, he explores the close interrelationships of the oceans, climate, solid Earth processes, and life, using the context of Earth and ocean history to provide perspective on humankind's impacts on the health and habitability of our planet – and on what the future may hold for us. An invaluable introduction to the cutting-edge science of palaeoceanography, The Oceans: A Deep History enables you to make your own informed opinions about the environmental challenges we face as a result of humanity's unrelenting drive to exploit the world ocean and its vital resources.
1 Introduction 1
2 Origins 15
Building a Planet, Shaping the Oceans 16
Water, Salt, and Circulation 31
Life, Oxygen, and Carbon 45
3 Controls On Change 56
Orbital and Solar Changes 62
Greenhouse Gases 69
Plate Tectonics 79
4 Snowball Earth And The Explosions Of Life 82
Into the Freezer 83
Out of the Freezer, Into a Greenhouse 93
A Tale of Two Explosions 95
5 Oceans On Acid 109
About Acidification 111
Acidification in Action 118
6 The Age Of Reptiles 126
Choking Oceans 134
Salty Giants 153
7 Winter Is Coming 162
Reconstructing Sea-Level Change 168
The Great Northern Ice Ages 174
Ocean Controls on CO2 178
A Seesaw in the Ocean 185
8 Future Oceans And Climate 192
Our Carbon Emissions 192
Eelco J. Rohling is professor of ocean and climate change in the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University and at the University of Southampton's National Oceanography Centre Southampton.
"Paleoceanography, Rohling's area of expertise, is the study of ancient oceans and ancient climates as they changed and developed together over geologic time. It involves analyzing data like layers of sediment taken from the seabed. Much alarming information can be learned this way, as Rohling demonstrates, about how today's oceans are likely to respond to climate change – with greater acidification, sea-level rise, mass extinction and so forth. But because storms leave no geological record, the precise effect of global warming on hurricanes is harder to gauge. Still, Rohling is confident that the combination of rising sea levels and some form of increased storm intensity 'spells doom' for the world's coastal regions. For surfers, rooting for hurricane swell may be increasingly difficult to rationalize."
– James Ryerson, New York Times
"Rohling's work is extensive and informative."
– Publishers Weekly
"The Oceans is extremely thorough, appropriately so for a topic of such profundity. The book also covers a tremendous amount of ground with dizzying speed."
– Foreword Reviews
"If you want to understand the planet and climate change, this book is for you."
– John R. Platt, EcoWatch
"For science readers looking for something new, [The Oceans] is a treat."
– John Farrell, Forbes.com
"Oceans are the vehicle of climate change – on land and sea. Rohling's presentation of the ocean's history – and thus our climate's history – is erudite yet accessible to a broad audience interested in the future of our planet."
– James E. Hansen, Earth Institute, Columbia University
"In this compelling book, prominent paleoceanographer Eelco Rohling provides the perspective needed to understand the current and future health of our oceans and their role in our rapidly evolving new world."
– Paul Andrew Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine
"In relating the long history of the oceans in the context of climate, Rohling brings together the important idea that climate control on long timescales is a mix of tectonics, ocean circulation, and carbon storage – with carbon storage being a euphemism for 'How much CO2 is in the atmosphere?'"
– Elisabeth L. Sikes, Rutgers University
"The density of information and Rohling's clear, concise explanations make for exhilarating reading, not least because his delight in his subject matter is so palpable. Most importantly though, Rohling's long view makes clear the vast scope of the transformation of the oceans taking place around us, underlining not just the effect on ecosystems and biodiversity, but also its geological scale."
– James Bradley, The Australian
"In an incredibly detailed 262-page hardcover volume titled The Oceans: A Deep History, Rohling shakes up every reader who [...] [dives] into the massive amount of worrisome information"
– Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, The Jerusalem Post
"The Oceans: A Deep History oozes with the enthusiasm and passion that Eelco has for geology and palaeoceanography and the awe that he has for how the Earth came to be what it is today [...] A brilliantly masterminded book, full of necessary detail that builds a compelling argument from 4.6 billion years of evidence and which culminates in an undeniable conclusion."
– Jennifer D. Stanford, The Holocene
"This book is not only an invaluable introduction to the cutting-edge science of palaeoceanography but also a crucially important text for students approaching all different fields of marine sciences."
– Roberto Danovaro, Current Biology Magazine
"Very informative, extensive, and full of necessary detail [...] this book clearly teaches the many relevant lessons needed to understand the climate change of today and what happens when our atmosphere and oceans change."
– Miguel Furtado, Conservation Biology