Effects of high CO2 levels on surface temperature and atmospheric oxidation state of the early Earth

James Kasting, James B. Pollack, David Crisp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

156 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

One-dimensional radiative-convective and photochemical models are used to examine the effects of enhanced CO2 concentrations on the surface temperature of the early Earth and the composition of the prebiotic atmosphere. Carbon dioxide concentrations of the order of 100-1000 times the present level are required to compensate for an expected solar luminosity decrease of 25-30%, if CO2 and H2O were the only greenhouse gases present. The primitive stratosphere was cold and dry, with a maximum H2O volume mixing ratio of 10-6. The atmospheric oxidation state was controlled by the balance between volcanic emission of reduced gases, photo-stimulated oxidation of dissolved Fe+2 in the oceans, escape of hydrogen to space, and rainout of H2O2 and H2CO. At high CO2 levels, production of hydrogen owing to rainout of H2O2 would have kept the H2 mixing ratio above 2×10-4 and the ground-level O2 mixing ratio below 10-11, even if no other sources of hydrogen were present. Increased solar UV fluxes could have led to small changes in the ground-level mixing ratios of both O2 and H2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-428
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry
Volume1
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1984

Fingerprint

early Earth
mixing ratio
surface temperature
Earth (planet)
oxidation
Hydrogen
Oxidation
hydrogen
Prebiotics
Temperature
Upper atmosphere
photooxidation
Greenhouse gases
Carbon Dioxide
stratosphere
Luminance
greenhouse gas
carbon dioxide
Gases
Fluxes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

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abstract = "One-dimensional radiative-convective and photochemical models are used to examine the effects of enhanced CO2 concentrations on the surface temperature of the early Earth and the composition of the prebiotic atmosphere. Carbon dioxide concentrations of the order of 100-1000 times the present level are required to compensate for an expected solar luminosity decrease of 25-30{\%}, if CO2 and H2O were the only greenhouse gases present. The primitive stratosphere was cold and dry, with a maximum H2O volume mixing ratio of 10-6. The atmospheric oxidation state was controlled by the balance between volcanic emission of reduced gases, photo-stimulated oxidation of dissolved Fe+2 in the oceans, escape of hydrogen to space, and rainout of H2O2 and H2CO. At high CO2 levels, production of hydrogen owing to rainout of H2O2 would have kept the H2 mixing ratio above 2×10-4 and the ground-level O2 mixing ratio below 10-11, even if no other sources of hydrogen were present. Increased solar UV fluxes could have led to small changes in the ground-level mixing ratios of both O2 and H2.",
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Effects of high CO2 levels on surface temperature and atmospheric oxidation state of the early Earth. / Kasting, James; Pollack, James B.; Crisp, David.

In: Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry, Vol. 1, No. 4, 01.12.1984, p. 403-428.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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