Atmospheric science: Marked decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations during the Paleogene

Mark Pagani, James C. Zachos, Katherine H. Freeman, Brett Tipple, Stephen Bohaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

660 Scopus citations

Abstract

The relation between the partial pressure of atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) and Paleogene climate is poorly resolved. We used stable carbon isotopic values of di-unsaturated alkenones extracted from deep sea cores to reconstruct pCO2 from the middle Eocene to the late Oligocene (∼45 to 25 million years ago). Our results demonstrate that pCO2 ranged between 1000 to 1500 parts per million by volume in the middle to late Eocene, then decreased in several steps during the Oligocene, and reached modern levels by the latest Oligocene. The fall in pCO2 likely allowed for a critical expansion of ice sheets on Antarctica and promoted conditions that forced the onset of terrestrial C4 photosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-603
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume309
Issue number5734
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 22 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Atmospheric science: Marked decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations during the Paleogene'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this