Preserving an ecosystem is hard.

Earth is physically changing at such a rapid pace that scientists – including those at UC Davis –  are still learning how its changes affect life as we know it. Sarah Moffitt, a post-doctorate fellow at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory and Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute, recently made a unsettling discovery: only a few decades of dramatic climate change have caused so much damage that it would take the ocean floor ecosystem more than a thousand years to fully recover.

Moffit dug up marine sediment to analyze invertebrate fossils, which helped her reconstruct a nautical story dating back to the last Ice Age. When the temperature spiked and the ice caps melted, oxygen levels dropped in oceans worldwide. It lasted less than 100 years, but the biosystem sustained major damage that took the next thousand to reach pre-melt levels.

Moffit believes our modern ocean is moving into a state that has no precedent in human history. It’s becoming clear that the current path we’re following is unsustainable, and research like Moffitt’s is needed to drive that point home to policy makers and the public at large.

Unlocking the secrets of our planet’s past is hard. Helping to find answers to climate change through giving is easy.