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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."

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 Source: Science Codex


  Discuss: View comments (42)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #33 Posted by JayMark on 6 April, 2012, 15:13
Solar and wind can probably meet most of the need, but it will take a major conversion effort to get us there. Wind and solar cannot produce base load - the minimum power needed to keep the system running at night when the wind's not blowing. But nuclear can. Fast breeders can re-use waste from old thermal plants, producing products with much shorter half-lives (300 yrs. vs. 5000 yrs.); that will cut down on the storage problem. AND, Uncle Sam has enough to supply the US with power for the next thousand years. Not to mention the $50 billion that would go to the US treasury. New reactor designs... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by Doug1o29 on 6 April, 2012, 16:01
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'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 l... [More]
Comment icon #35 Posted by JayMark on 6 April, 2012, 16:27
It's just human nature to put off painful solutions to problems for as long as possible. 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 wil... [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
You'd not be very popular on a jury "I would agree that the man died after being shot 9 times if it wasn't for all the people who have died without being shot at all" Which is what you - and many others - are effectively saying. Conversely, others of us point out that just because people die naturally/the Earth's climate changes naturally it does not follow that humans cannot kill people/change Earth's climates through their actions, deliberate or otherwise. Anyway, back on subject, this new papers shows that: 1) Antarctic ice cores are not a good proxy for global temperature, because at the e... [More]
Comment icon #38 Posted by Essan on 7 April, 2012, 13:31
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. 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 Willis Eschenbach has raised on WUWT. There should be an article on S... [More]
Comment icon #39 Posted by Doug1o29 on 7 April, 2012, 17:22
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. 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 mu... [More]
Comment icon #40 Posted by Doug1o29 on 7 April, 2012, 17:31
Their time scale in the ice core samples are flip flopped to fit their agenda! Alas more junk science. 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
How do you know it is incorrect? Do you have a source? 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. http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n1/full/nclimate1068.html
Comment icon #42 Posted by JayMark on 10 April, 2012, 14:50
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. The thing is, you are right about more CO2 = 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 CO2 emissions. This leads to less uptaken CO2, mor... [More]


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