2003 Annual Science Report

Harvard University Reporting  |  JUL 2002 – JUN 2003

Executive Summary

Introduction

The Harvard NAI team was constituted in 1998 as an interactive group of biogeochemists, paleontologists, sedimentary geologists, geochemists, and tectonic geologists assembled with the common goal of understanding the coevolution of life and environments in Earth history. The team originally proposed to focus multidisciplinary research on four critical intervals of planetary change: the early Archean (>3000 million years ago) when life began, the early Paleoproterozoic (2400-2200 Ma) when oxygen began to accumulate in the atmosphere and surface ocean, the terminal Proterozoic and Early Cambrian (750-525 Ma) when animal life radiated, and the Permo-Triassic boundary (251 Ma) when mass extinction removed some 90 percent of Earth’s species diversity, permanently altering the course of evolution. Given reduced funding levels in years 1 and 2, however, the team chose to focus on the latter three intervals; over the past five years, team members have made substantial contributions ...

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