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How carbon helped to thaw the planet

Posted on Friday, 6 April, 2012 | Comment icon 42 comments | News tip by: Karlis

Image credit: Andrew Mandemaker

In a new study scientists have been investigating how CO2 levels helped to end the last ice age.

The research has shown that rising CO2 levels combined with a number of other factors were responsible for warming the planet enough to end the last ice age around 20,000 to 10,000 years ago. Lead author Jeremy Shakun emphasised that while changes in the Earth's orbit were a factor, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere played a much more significant role. "Our study shows that CO2 was a much more important factor, and was really driving worldwide warming during the last deglaciation," he said.

"Harvard scientists are helping to paint the fullest picture yet of how a handful of factors, particularly world-wide increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, combined to end the last ice age approximately 20,000 to 10,000 years ago."

  View: Full article |  Source: Science Codex

  Discuss: View comments (42)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #33 Posted by JayMark on 6 April, 2012, 15:13
Fair enough. But I still am hesitant towards nuclear. Could you tell me more about those new plants that re-use thermal plant waste? What do they use, what is the process and what are the waste products? I also know they are actively working in fusion reactors and I guess this would be safer and would generate less crap to deal with. Time will say I guess. I do not have so much knowledge in nuclear physics. Solar and wind can be very usefull and could supply a lot if we invested in them. We are also developing wind and solar power here in Québec. And I've seen europeen countries al... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by Doug1o29 on 6 April, 2012, 16:01
I'm a bit hesitant, too, but I think we're reaching the point where it is riskier to continue with business as usual. The reactors I'm talking about are fast breeders. I'm no expert, so you probably ought to look them up on Google. They use a different isotope (element?) that produces decay products with shorter half-lives. They're still radioactive, but the time we'd have to store them is a lot shorter. Fast breeders are about 100 times more efficient than thermal plants, so they take a lot less fuel. They can re-use waste from thermal plants and weapons, but i... [More]
Comment icon #35 Posted by JayMark on 6 April, 2012, 16:27
In this case, it's just a question of time before we pass a point of non-return and face a major global crisis. On one side you have us that say that we need to massively cut our carbon emissions but since this will have an impact of the profits of oil and gas companies for instance, they do whatever they can to prevent this, hence the big misinformation campains. If these companies are forced to reduce their activities, prices will go up and it will be a mess. I understand that. But frankly, this mess will be due to those companies refusing to lose money despite the fact that they alre... [More]
Comment icon #36 Posted by cerberusxp on 7 April, 2012, 9:34
Their time scale in the ice core samples are flip flopped to fit their agenda! Alas more junk science.
Comment icon #37 Posted by cerberusxp on 7 April, 2012, 12:04
I love it when people OMIT factors in research. As warming occurs what happens? Plants grow more abundant thus EATING more CO2. = More forage, more food, more oxygen. Lets ju8st get rid of CO2 altogether alright? Then no one would have to worry about anything ever again. Famine, the earth would turn into a climate much like MARS no more plants.
Comment icon #38 Posted by Essan on 7 April, 2012, 13:31
None of those straw men are in any way relevant to this particular discussion But, back on subject, it seems that there are questions on the validity of Shakun etal's conclusions - as . There should be an article on shortly to further address this. (none of which changes the fact that the argument that "because ice cores show CO2 following temp, then CO2 cannot cause temp to rise", is one of the funniest fallacies of the 21st century )
Comment icon #39 Posted by Doug1o29 on 7 April, 2012, 17:22
Research projects can't physically encompass everything at once. Those who are interested in the subject have to do a LITTLE digging on their own. Only about half the CO2 emitted by humans since 1960 is still in the air. Plants can't account for that much. But that's only half. Look at a graph of Keeling's CO2 measurements. It shows the seasonal effect of plants. But CO2 levels continue to rise in spite of plants. Plants are not absorbing the extra CO2. Your thesis is flawed. And I love it when deniers OMIT pertinent research. Doug
Comment icon #40 Posted by Doug1o29 on 7 April, 2012, 17:31
What is your basis for this conclusion? I may be touring the Lamont-Dougherty facilities in a few months. If you have a question about their work, I can ask it for you. While we're on the topic, how do you assess the time scales in dendrochronology? Doug
Comment icon #41 Posted by BFB on 9 April, 2012, 11:58
Because the IPCC's report is full of embarrassing and wrong research. Regarding startospheric water vapor. A 10% decline in startospheric water vapor since 2001 would not be able to account for the low raditaive forcing the IPCC issued in their graph. Bottom line stratospheric water vapor has a bigger impact than the IPCC thought. As for contrails, its not really the contrails which is the big problem. Its the large cirrus clouds they produce.
Comment icon #42 Posted by JayMark on 10 April, 2012, 14:50
The thing is, you are right about more CO[sub]2[/sub] = increased plant groth = more food, oxygen etc. But vegetation is dying in many places as a concequence of global warming which is mainly due to anthropogenic CO[sub]2[/sub] emissions. This leads to less uptaken CO[sub]2[/sub], more methane, even more CO[sub]2[/sub], less food and less oxygen. At the rate at which it is changing, we will see more trees diying than growing for quite a long time. Not to mention the problems with current agriculture. You need to look at both sides of the coin in everything. More CO[sub]2[/sub] also acidifi... [More]

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