CO2 Levels in Earth’s Atmosphere Will Be Higher Than at Any Time in the Last 3.3 Million Years by 2025


The composition of fossilised zooplankton shells has enabled the reconstruction of past pH and CO2.

By 2025, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels will very likely be higher than they were during the warmest period of the last 3.3 million years, according to new research by a team from the University of Southampton published today in 'Nature Scientific Reports'.

The team studied the chemical composition of tiny fossils, about the size of a pin head collected from deep ocean sediments of the Caribbean Sea. They used this data to reconstruct the concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere during the Pliocene epoch, around 3 million years ago when our planet was more than 3°C warmer than today with smaller polar ice caps and higher global sea-levels.

Dr Elwyn de la Vega, who led the study, said: “Knowledge of CO2 during the geological past is of great interest because it tells us how the climate system, ice sheets and sea-level previously responded to the elevated CO2 levels. We studied this particular interval in unprecedented detail because it provides great contextual information for our current climate state”.

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Image via University of Southampton