Climate And Ocean Acidification : Carbon Dioxide Levels

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Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have been in the past 400 thousand years, and they are steadily rising. In part, this is due to human impact. Carbon dioxide is a natural greenhouse gas and has been a part of Earth’s atmosphere for millions of years. CO2 levels are constantly fluctuating and have a large impact on the planet including a change in climate and ocean acidification. Multiple methods are used in deciphering CO2 levels of times past. Two proxies include ice cores and the δ18O compositions of marine foraminifera as resources in the determination of CO2 level information. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from many sources. Some of the most prevalent causes of CO2 levels in Earth’s atmosphere are the burning of fossils fuels, deforestation, and volcanic degassing. Fossil fuels are naturally formed fuels such as coal or natural gas that are formed by organic material such as plants. When fossil fuels are burned, the carbon that is locked in them is released into the atmosphere to bond to oxygen to form carbon dioxide. This CO2 has nowhere to go except into the air. There are some natural “sinks” that act as nets for greenhouse gasses. Forests and oceans are the largest sinks on the planet. CO2 is absorbed by plants to use for photosynthesis and when forests are cut down, the area available to take in CO2 excess decreases. The ocean can only hold so much CO2 and is currently holding approximately 1/3 of its’ limit. (Pickrell) Volcanic
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