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NASA

Scientists may have solved the mystery behind one of the five mass extinctions in Earth's history – a time 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period when a meteor struck the Earth and wiped out dinosaurs and nearly every living creature on the planet. The reason? A blanket of soot cast the Earth into darkness for up to two years, according to a new study.

What they found: Using a sophisticated climate supercomputer, researchers modeled what may have happened when a meteor hit the planet and found such an impact would likely create raging global wildfires and toss a blanket of soot into the atmosphere, thereby keeping more than 99% of sunlight from reaching the surface of the Earth for up to two years.

Why did the dinosaurs die?

  • With the Earth in darkness for that long, photosynthesis would stop; temperatures would plummet by more than 30 degrees Fahrenheit for several years; and the protective ozone layer would be depleted.
  • This creates a deadly combination that the researchers say could have led to mass extinctions and the end of the dinosaurs.
  • Geological evidence shows that the Cretaceous mass extinction event occurred at the same time that a very large asteroid hit Earth in what is now the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • What the new computer model shows is how such a collision would trigger other events in its wake that drastically altered Earth's climate.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.