Confirmed: Current Atmospheric CO2 Levels Highest in 15 Million (!) Years

teleoceras image

Though most plants and animals would be recognizable to us today, where they lived was quite different -- such as this North American rhino, Teleoceras. Image: Wikipedia.

Now here's something to give you pause: Humans have pumped so much CO2 into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution that the last time levels were this high (about 387ppm currently) was 15 million years ago -- the miocene epoch, for those with a geologic bent. That's the word from UCLA scientist Aradhna Tripati, whose work has just published in the online edition of Science:To reach this conclusion, Triptati analyzed the chemistry of air trapped in Antarctic ice going back some 800,000 years; and then applied their technique to study the history of carbon going back 20 million years -- they confirmed a "very close coupling between carbon dioxide levels and climate."

Temps Were 5-10°F Warmer, No Ice Caps
Tripati says that the last time CO2 was sustained at this level "temperatures were 5-10°F higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75-120 feet high that today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland."

Though scientists have known that today's concentrations of CO2 are the highest in the last 800,000 years, the discovery that this characterization applies back 15 million years is new.

via: Science Codex
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