News of the WeekPaleoclimatology

Slide Into Ice Ages Not Carbon Dioxide's Fault?

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Science  11 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5421, pp. 1743-1746
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5421.1743b

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Atmospheric carbon dioxide has long been recognized as a major agent of climate change. But in this issue (p. 1824), paleoceanographers report that about 43 million years ago, when the world was perhaps 5°C warmer than today, carbon dioxide levels were not dramatically higher than they are now. An independent study in this month's Paleoceanography comes to a similar conclusion for a warm spell about 15 million years ago. The new studies suggest that although carbon dioxide is still a powerful driver of climate, over millions of years, other factors such as changing ocean circulation may have warmed or chilled the planet.