Our planet harbors a "stabilizing feedback" mechanism that acts over hundreds of thousands of years
The Earth's climate has undergone big changes, from global volcanism to planet-cooling ice ages and dramatic shifts in solar radiation. And yet life, for the last 3.7 billion years, has kept on beating.
Now, a U.S. National Science Foundation-supported study by MIT researchers in Science Advances confirms that the planet harbors a "stabilizing feedback" mechanism that acts over hundreds of thousands of years to pull the climate back from the brink, keeping global temperatures within a steady, habitable range.
Just how does it accomplish this? A likely mechanism is "silicate weathering" — a geological process by which the slow and steady erosion of silicate rocks involves chemical reactions that ultimately draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into ocean sediments, where the carbon dioxide is incorporated into sedimentary rocks.