The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact Might Have Set Off 100,000 Years of Global Warming

Illustration: Alexander Antropov


After a giant asteroid hit Earth about 66 million years ago, the planet’s climate went on a roller coaster ride.

The space rock’s impact set off tsunamis and wildfires before climate-chilling clouds of sulfur gas engulfed the planet for decades, wiping out most life (SN: 11/25/17, p. 14). As these clouds dissipated, billions of tons of carbon dioxide, which spewed into the atmosphere when the asteroid hit, fueled roughly 100,000 years of global warming, new data suggest. Analyzing fossilized fish bits hints that the influx of the greenhouse gas raised the temperature of the ocean on average by 5 degrees Celsius, scientists report online May 24 in Science.

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