Evidence from the Huronian glaciation, suggests the role of cyanobacteria as agents that triggered the Great Oxidation Event (production of oxygen) which combined with methane to form carbon dioxide and water. Silicate weathering, volcanism, and carbonate precipitation all contributed to the CO2 build-up. Following the breakdown of methane by oxygen, Earth’s albedo increased, altering the Earth’s surface temperature even further. (Kopp et al., 2005). The outgassing of huge volumes of carbon dioxide by volcanoes during the Cryogenian glacial (snowball earth) warmed the planetary surface fast by strengthening the planet’s greenhouse effect. The frozen earth disrupted major carbon sinks (rock weathering and photosynthesis), causing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to change. Scientists believe that the super greenhouse effect terminated the period, as the constant build-up of CO2 by volcanoes warmed the Earth’s surface and further deteriorated the accumulated ice cover. (Britannica, 2014).
The Ordovician glaciation is characterized by high levels of CO2 about 16 times higher than the present-day climate driven by widespread volcanic activities. High levels of atmospheric CO2 caused temperatures to rise everywhere from the Equator to the poles—evidence from Ordovician limestone. Increasing weathering of silicate rocks (Caledonian orogeny) due to the spread of land plants accelerated the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Piling-up of Snow in North Africa increased albedo (surface reflectance) which further lowered temperatures and increased the accumulation of a greater amount of snow at the end of the Ordovician glacial period (Holland, 2021). The collapse of the Carboniferous Event was driven by the burial of carbon in the braided river system which prevented the decomposition and release of CO2 back into the atmosphere. The burial of carbon by the collapse of the rainforest changed the earth’s climate system. Studies by Penn et al., (2018) suggest rapid global warming and accompanying ocean oxygen loss as the drivers of the Permian mass extinction. The formation of the Volcanism released CO2 estimated at 30,000 GT which led to the warming of the Earth’s surface.