Of Moss and Men
Were Earth’s earliest land plants responsible for the rise in oxygen that shaped the world as we know it?
Joanna Cummings |
Despite atmospheric oxygen over Earth’s history having recently received a lot of airtime (pun unintended), the puzzle of when and how atmospheric oxygen reached modern levels remains unresolved. Climate change scientist Tim Lenton (Professor at the University of Exeter) was struck by how the timing corresponded with the rise of the earliest plants, and, wanting to explore it further, gathered a team. “I was working with co-author Philipp Porada on modeling of the productivity of the early plant biosphere and realized that plants could be responsible for the rise in oxygen,” he says. “I brought the rest of the team together to get a better handle on the geochemical data establishing the timing and mechanism of oxygen rise, and to help develop the model for long-term controls on atmospheric oxygen.”
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