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Oceans: A Deep History

by Eelco Rohling Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 272 pages
AU$64.99 NZ$65.21
Product Status: In Stock Now
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The 4.4-billion-year history of the oceans and their role in Earth's climate system


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 realize. 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 paleoceanography, The Oceans 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
Impacts 80
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
Reverberations 99
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
Consequences 199
Epilogue 215
Acknowledgments 219
Bibliography 221
Index 251

"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 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

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.