CO2 is rising 10 times faster than any other time in recorded history

The Associated Press

Researchers conducting a detailed chemical analysis of ancient Antarctic ice have discovered that the current rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is 10 times faster than at any point in the last 50,000 years.
The rate of CO2 change today really is unprecedented,” said Kathleen Wendt, an assistant professor in Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and the study’s lead author.
“Our research identified the fastest rates of past natural CO2 rise ever observed, and the rate occurring today, largely driven by human emissions, is 10 times higher.” Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a greenhouse gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere.
When carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, it contributes to the warming of the climate due to the greenhouse effect.
In the past, the levels have fluctuated due to ice age cycles and other natural causes, but today they are rising because of human emissions.
Scientists use samples of that ice, collected by drilling cores up to 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) deep, to analyze the trace chemicals and build records of past climate.
The new findings suggest that if that occurs, it will reduce the Southern Ocean’s capacity to absorb human-generated carbon dioxide, the researchers noted.
“We rely on the Southern Ocean to take up part of the carbon dioxide we emit, but rapidly increasing southerly winds weaken its ability to do so,” Wendt said.


The rate at which atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing now is ten times faster than it has been in the previous 50,000 years, according to researches performing a thorough chemical analysis of old Antarctic ice.

The results, which were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer fresh perspective on the possible effects of climate change today as well as a significant new understanding of periods of abrupt climate change in Earth’s history.

We can better understand how today is different by studying the past. Kathleen Wendt, the study’s lead author and assistant professor in Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, stated that the rate of CO2 change occurring today is truly unprecedented.

The fastest rates of natural CO2 rise ever recorded were found by our research, and the rate that is happening now—which is mostly due to human emissions—is ten times greater. “.

One of the greenhouse gases that naturally exists in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, or CO2. Because of the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide adds to global warming when it enters the atmosphere. As a result of human emissions, the levels are rising now, but they have fluctuated in the past due to ice age cycles and other natural causes.

Antarctica’s Ice Core Analysis.

Air bubbles containing ancient atmospheric gases have accumulated in the Antarctic ice over hundreds of thousands of years. To study the trace chemicals and create records of past climate, scientists gather samples of that ice by drilling cores up to 2 miles (3 point 2 kilometers) deep. The U.S. s. The chemistry analysis and ice core drilling utilized in the study were funded by the National Science Foundation.

According to earlier studies, there were a few times during the last ice age—which ended around 10,000 years ago—when carbon dioxide levels seemed to jump significantly higher than usual. However, Wendt noted that the lack of detail in those measurements prevented scientists from fully comprehending the nature of the abrupt changes.

“In the midst of the last ice age, you probably wouldn’t expect to see that,” the woman remarked. However, those times piqued our curiosity, and we wanted to revisit them and carry out more thorough measurements to ascertain the causes. “.

Wendt and colleagues examined what was going on during those times using samples from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core. Their research revealed a pattern that linked these spikes in carbon dioxide to Heinrich Events, or cold spells in the North Atlantic that are linked to sudden changes in the global climate.

Christo Buizert, a co-author of the study and associate professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, said, “These Heinrich Events are truly remarkable.”. “We believe that the abrupt melting of the North American ice sheet is the root cause of them. Large-scale CO2 emissions from the oceans, modifications to the tropical monsoons, and westerly winds in the Southern Hemisphere are all caused by this. “.

Natural and Current CO2 Increases are Compared.

In 55 years, during the greatest of the natural rises, carbon dioxide rose by roughly 14 parts per million. Furthermore, the jumps happened roughly once every 7,000 years. That kind of increase only takes five to six years at today’s rates.

Research indicates that westerly winds, which are crucial to the deep ocean’s circulation, were gaining strength during previous instances of natural carbon dioxide rises, which caused the Southern Ocean to release CO2 quickly.

Climate change may cause these westerlies to intensify over the course of the next century, according to other research. If that happens, the researchers noted, the Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide produced by humans may be diminished. This is supported by the new findings.

Wendt stated, “We rely on the Southern Ocean to absorb some of the carbon dioxide we emit, but the ocean’s capacity to do so is being weakened by rapidly increasing southerly winds.”.

Source: Kathleen A.’s article “Southern Ocean drives multidecadal atmospheric CO2 rise during Heinrich Stadials.”. Wendt, Julia Gottschalk, Chris Nehrbass-Ahles, Kyle Niezgoda, David Noone, Michael Kalk, Laurie Menviel, James W. C. Thomas F., Hubertus Fischer, Jochen Schmitt, and Rae. Juan Muglia Stocker, David Ferreira, Shaun A. Marcott, Christo Buizert, and Edward Brook, May 13, 2024, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

10%073/pnas is the DOI. 2319652121.

A number of other co-authors are from Oregon State, including Ed Brook, Kyle Niezgoda, and Michael Kalk; Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles from the University of Bern in Switzerland and the National Physical Laboratory in the United Kingdom; Thomas Stocker, Jochen Schmitt, and Hubertus Fischer from the University of Bern; Laurie Menviel from the University of New South Wales in Australia; William Rae from the University of St. Andrews from the UK; Juan Muglia from Argentina; David Ferreira from the UK’s University of Reading; and Shaun Marcott from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The research was supported by U.S. S. Science Foundation of the Nation.

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