Michigan EARTH Research Lab Specialist Lead Kelsey Dyez, Professor Nathan Sheldon, and a team of colleagues recently had a paper published in Science.

Editor’s Summary:

The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is a fundamental driver of climate, but its value is difficult to determine for times older than the roughly 800,000 years for which ice core records are available. The Cenozoic Carbon dioxide Proxy Integration Project (CenCO2PIP) Consortium assessed a comprehensive collection of proxy determinations to define the atmospheric carbon dioxide record for the past 66 million years. This synthesis provides the most complete record yet available and will help to better establish the role of carbon dioxide in climate, biological, and cryosphere evolution. —H. Jesse Smith


The geological record encodes the relationship between climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) over long and short timescales, as well as potential drivers of evolutionary transitions. However, reconstructing CO2 beyond direct measurements requires the use of paleoproxies and herein lies the challenge, as proxies differ in their assumptions, degree of understanding, and even reconstructed values. In this study, we critically evaluated, categorized, and integrated available proxies to create a high-fidelity and transparently constructed atmospheric CO2 record spanning the past 66 million years. This newly constructed record provides clearer evidence for higher Earth system sensitivity in the past and for the role of CO2 thresholds in biological and cryosphere evolution.

Click the button below to read the full paper in Science.