Assistant Professor Mark Pagani in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale and his colleagues mapped the first detailed history of atmospheric carbon dioxide between 45 - 25 million years ago based on stable isotopes of carbon in a National Science Foundation study reported in Science Express.
"Through the energy we consume, each of us makes a contribution to increasing greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide and methane, in the Earths atmosphere," said Pagani. "To understand the implications of these actions for the future, scientists look to the past to gain a better understanding of Earths climate system under high greenhouse gas conditions." The findings were based on calibration of carbon-containing compounds produced by ancient sea surface algae that were recently isolated in deep sea drill cores.
The data indicates that between 45 - 34 million years ago the atmospheric carbon dioxide level was up to five times greater than today, with a sharp decrease and then stabilization to near modern day levels between 34 - 25 million years ago.
Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
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