The time lag between increased quantities of CO2 reaching or leaving the atmosphere and global temperature change may be far shorter than previously thought, according to a new paper, Tightened constraints on the time-lag between Antarctic temperature and CO2 during the last deglaciation published this week by Climate of the Past.
The paper states its claims by suggesting other ice-core-based assessments of the correlation between CO2 prevalence and global temperature use samples from a region of Antarctica where ice accumulates slowly, making conclusions on the age of air bubbles difficult. This new research uses several ice core samples from several locations in Antarctica and Greenland, compares the results to what the researchers feel is a robust model of Antarctic climate, carries the three* and produces a result that the authors feel offers a more comprehensive assessment of just what happens during those moments in time with lots of CO2 makes it into the atmosphere.
Their conclusion is that when the CO2 arrives, things change – fast – as southern climates respond to events in the northern hemisphere and vice-versa.
As the paper states:
“... we show that the increase in CO2 likely lagged the increase in regional Antarctic temperature by less than 400 yr and that even a short lead of CO2 over temperature cannot be excluded.”
The paper appears far, therefore, from a smoking gun for those who would say CO2 is tipping us over a climactic cliff any year now. Indeed, the authors are careful to state that their work suggests that things move pretty quickly in the climate, but declient to comment on current anthropogenic CO2 emissions and what they may mean for the planet's climate. ®
* We have no idea if the authors really carried a three, but it is probably necessary to point out that it is just a rhetorical flourish in case someone takes it seriously in their rebuttal of this research.