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What is the relationship between carbon dioxide and atmospheric temperature?

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January 24, 2014 2:45AM

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas. It captures infrared heat rising from the surface of the earth, and this greenhouse effect keeps the Earth warm. If we have extra CO2 in the atmosphere, then the earth becomes warmer. This is happening now, and this global warming is causing climate change.

A:

CO2 is a heat trapping gas. Paleogeologic studies indicate that although during some portions of Milankovitch Cycles (long period orbital cycles) CO2 level changes trailed ice age onsets and terminations, in general CO2 concentration changes precede non cyclic global climate change events.

One of these is the Azolla Event, in which a fresh water Arctic fern sequestered gigatons of atmospheric CO2 onto the sea floor, culminating in an ice age after just a few hundred thousand years.

CO2 increases preceded the end of the LAST deglaciation as well--see link for more information.