Today’s Climate More Sensitive To Carbon Dioxide Than In Past 12 Million Years
Paleoclimate researchers reveal that about 12-5 million years ago climate was decoupled from atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Evidence of this comes from deep-sea sediment cores dated to the late Miocene period of Earth's history. During that time, temperatures across a broad swath of the North Pacific were 9-14 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today, while atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations remained low--near values prior to the Industrial Revolution. The research shows that, in the last five million years, changes in ocean circulation allowed Earth's climate to become more closely coupled to changes in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. The findings also demonstrate that the climate of modern times more readily responds to changing carbon dioxide levels than it has during the past 12 million years.