Warm and wet or hot and dry future Earth? The dual impact of CO2 in climate change explored with fossil plants

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2017
End date: 31/12/2020
Funding: 3200000 SEK


CO2 is a principal greenhouse gas that is increasing in the
atmosphere at an unprecedented rate due to human activity, causing
global climate change. It is predicted to continue to rise further and
result in a perilous temperature increase of up to 4°C by the year 2100,
but the relationship between concentrations of CO2 (pCO2) and temperature – the so-called climate sensitivity – is still not well understood. Existing long-term pCO2 records and climate models lack the resolution yet to precisely constrain the role of pCO2 in climate change, severely impeding our ability to project the consequences of future pCO2
rise. This 4-year research project aims to reduce these uncertainties
by studying selected intervals of the Cenozoic era (the last 66 million
years), which will serve as "climate change analogues" for the future.
Firstly, new high-resolution pCO2 records will be constructed, using the stomatal proxy method with fossil plant leaves. Secondly, a novel approach included in this proposal is to explore the impact of pCO2 on plant transpiration:
a major component of the Earth’s hydrological cycle, with direct
implications for ecosystems. The identification of a new database of
well-preserved and well-dated fossil leaves from the geological record
of Australia and New Zealand offers this unique opportunity. The results
of the project will greatly improve our understanding of the dual role
of pCO2 in climate change, and enable more accurate predictions for our future.

Last updated on 2017-05-10 at 12:53