Sea levels, Carbon dioxide concentrations, and Global temperatures have moved together over the last 450,000 years.
The graph shows this with:
. Sea levels (the blue line)
. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the air (the green line), and
. Global temperatures (the red line)
The carbon dioxide concentrations have fluctuated between about 180 and 280 parts per million (ppm) over this period of 450,000 years, but in the last 50 years it has shot up 400 ppm. (This is circled in red on the graph.) Sea levels and temperatures have moved with carbon dioxide levels in the past. If sea levels and temperatures move with the recent increase in carbon dioxide the planet will become a very different place.
The graph shows five periods of high temperatures. We are living in one of those warm periods. About 120,000 years ago, during the most recent warm period between ice ages, the temperature was a few degrees warmer than at present, but sea level rose about 8 meters higher than present – and carbon dioxide levels were a lot lower than they are now.
The graph is adapted from the work of Hansen and Sato
(John Englander: Oceanographer)
Key words climate Data