The animals died in the poisonous slurry. Scientists describe the worst disaster in Earth’s history – 24T24 – Czech Television

The animals died in the poisonous slurry.  Scientists describe the worst disaster in Earth's history - 24T24 - Czech Television

Cyanobacteria attack

Evidence suggests that the number of new cyanobacteria and microscopic algae (or water flower) was very large at that time. Scientists say that after the eruption, the cyanobacteria-eating organisms below became extinct – for another million years, no other organisms could be found in the habitat that could inhibit the growth of microorganisms.

Freshwater systems were later filled with algae and bacteria, which significantly slowed the return of other organisms. “We are trying to understand the conditions under which these plants lived, i.e. lake debris or river debris,” said Tracy Frank, co-author of the study.

Prehistoric water later looked like poisonous thick soup. According to scientists, the recipe was simple, it had three main ingredients: high greenhouse gas emissions, high temperature, and adequate nutrients. The first two factors are volcanic eruptions, and the third is deforestation. After the trees dried up due to high temperatures and fires, the erosion carried the soil to rivers and lakes, providing essential nutrients for microorganisms.

When researchers compared fossil records of various extinctions in the past, they found that it was somehow related to warming and that they were very similar. In their opinion, this shows that cyanobacteria are reproducible – they are repeatedly responsible for the extinction of all living things.

In the opinion of the authors, these results are still relevant today. As a result of climate change caused by greenhouse gases, the water flower grows rapidly, and the first cases of major poisoning from the toxins released from it appear.

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“In lakes and shallow marine habitats, we see increased flowering of toxic algae associated with rising temperatures and changes in plant communities, which contributes to an increase in nutrient contribution to the freshwater environment,” says Frankov. “So there are many parallels today. In the past, volcanoes were a source of carbon dioxide, but we know that the rate of carbon dioxide distribution observed at that time was similar to the rate of increase we see today,” the scientist added.

Knowledge to understand today

Thanks to a new study, she now has a better understanding of how the weather has changed in the past, what the intensities are, how fast it can change, or what the causes of climate change are. It gives scientists the knowledge they need to understand what is happening today.

“On the other hand, the last increase in temperature in the Permian caused a huge increase in wildfires. One thing that was destroying the entire habitat is fire, which we now see in places like California.

“These are clear signs of an unbalanced habitat, and this study suggests that the effects of water hyacinth events will be felt for a long time.

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