Earth’s Hottest & Coldest Times

Recently, NOAA Climate researchers released an article regarding some of the Earth’s hottest times in history. This is an interesting read that uses historical geologic evidence in addition to fossils and other scientific clues that can help determine past climates.

The article stretches from Earth’s earliest days; when temperatures could reach hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit, to somewhat more recent times. Check out some excerpts from the NOAA scientists’ article:

“Between 600 and 800 million years ago—a period of time geologists call the Neoproterozoic—evidence suggests the Earth underwent an ice age so cold that ice sheets not only capped the polar latitudes, but may have extended all the way to sea level near the equator. “

“Stretching from about 66-34 million years ago, the Paleocene and Eocene were the first geologic epochs following the end of the Mesozoic Era. Geologists and paleontologists think that during much of the Paleocene and early Eocene, the poles were free of ice caps, and palm trees and crocodiles lived above the Arctic Circle.”

“During the PETM, the global mean temperature appears to have risen by as much as 5-8°C (9-14°F) to an average temperature as high as 73°F. (Again, today’s global average is shy of 60°F.)”

The main theme of this article touches on the fact that if we look into Earth’s history there have been huge cycles of climate change. Our detailed climate records only span a few centuries compared to a long geologic time scale.

NOAA states: “Modern human civilization, with its permanent agriculture and settlements, has developed over just the past 10,000 years or so. The period has generally been one of low temperatures and relative global (if not regional) climate stability.”

Again, this is a very engaging article to read regarding long-term climate and Earth’s hottest and coldest times.