Paleoclimate expert Morgan Schaller, an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, studies the history of the Earth system and changes in the climate over long timescales. In recent research published in Science, Schaller identified an extraterrestrial impact as the likely trigger for the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a rapid warming of the Earth caused by an accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide 56 million years ago. The PETM is considered an analog to global warming today. 

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“Through most of Earth’s history, climates were quite a bit warmer than today,” said Schaller. “Understanding how the earth behaves during these so-called ‘hot-house’ states is important."

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