Archives par mot-clé : Phanerozoic

In Geological Terms, Today’s Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations Are Still Uncomfortably Low

by P. Gosselin, Dec 5, 2020 in NoTricksZone


Under 180 ppm atmospheric CO2 concentration, life on earth begins to die.

The earth came very close to that point not long ago during the Ice Ages (20,000 years ago). Then the planet warmed naturally, and an increase in atmospheric CO2 to over 200 ppm followed (new study here).

The earth saw CO2 levels of close to 8000 ppm in the past, i.e. about 20 times more than today. The following chart shows the earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentrations for the past 600 million years.

Today, thanks in large part to mankind, concentrations have risen to over 400 ppm, yet historically this remains at the very low end of the scale compared to the thousands of ppm seen naturally earlier in history.

Greening planet

Today, definitely a safer level would be near 1000 ppm. Studies unanimously show plant growth at these higher levels is far enhanced. Already today we see clear evidence the planet is greening Zhu et al. (2016), in part due to the fertilizations taking place through human emissions:

The Relationship between Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration and Global Temperature for the Last 425 Million Years

by William J. Davis, September 2017, in ResearchGate


Assessing human impacts on climate and biodiversity requires an understanding of the relationship between the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere and global temperature (T). Here I explore this relationship empirically using comprehensive, recently-compiled databases of stable-isotope proxies from the Phanerozoic Eon (~540 to 0 years before the present) and through complementary modeling using the atmospheric absorption/transmittance code MODTRAN. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is correlated weakly but negatively with linearly-detrended T proxies over the last 425 million years.

Molecular fossils from phytoplankton reveal secular Pco2 trend over the Phanerozoic

by C.R. Witkowski et al., November28,  2018 in SciAdvances


Here, we reconstructed Phanerozoic PCO2 from a single proxy: the stable carbon isotopic fractionation associated with photosynthesis (Ɛp) that increases as PCO2 increases. This concept has been widely applied to alkenones, but here, we expand this concept both spatially and temporally by applying it to all marine phytoplankton via a diagenetic product of chlorophyll, phytane. We obtained data from 306 marine sediments and oils, which showed that Ɛp ranges from 11 to 24‰, agreeing with the observed range of maximum fractionation of Rubisco (i.e., 25 to 28‰). The observed secular PCO2 trend derived from phytane-based Ɛp mirrors the available compilations of PCO2over the past 420 Ma, except for two periods in which our higher estimates agree with the warm climate during those time periods. Our record currently provides the longest secular trend in PCO2 based on a single marine proxy, covering the past 500 Ma of Earth history

Fig. 2Ɛp calculated from phytane in Witkowski et al., 2018

See also here