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Science. 2001 Jun 22;292(5525):2310-3.

Paleobotanical evidence for near present-day levels of atmospheric Co2 during part of the tertiary.

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Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, Post Office Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06520-8109, USA.


Understanding the link between the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO(2)) and Earth's temperature underpins much of paleoclimatology and our predictions of future global warming. Here, we use the inverse relationship between leaf stomatal indices and the partial pressure of CO(2) in modern Ginkgo biloba and Metasequoia glyptostroboides to develop a CO(2) reconstruction based on fossil Ginkgo and Metasequoia cuticles for the middle Paleocene to early Eocene and middle Miocene. Our reconstruction indicates that CO(2) remained between 300 and 450 parts per million by volume for these intervals with the exception of a single high estimate near the Paleocene/Eocene boundary. These results suggest that factors in addition to CO(2) are required to explain these past intervals of global warmth.

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