Low CO2 levels of the entire Pleistocene epoch. Academic Article uri icon


  • Quantifying ancient atmospheric pCO2 provides valuable insights into the interplay between greenhouse gases and global climate. Beyond the 800-ky history uncovered by ice cores, discrepancies in both the trend and magnitude of pCO2 changes remain among different proxy-derived results. The traditional paleosol pCO2 paleobarometer suffers from largely unconstrained soil-respired CO2 concentration (S(z)). Using finely disseminated carbonates precipitated in paleosols from the Chinese Loess Plateau, here we identified that their S(z) can be quantitatively constrained by soil magnetic susceptibility. Based on this approach, we reconstructed pCO2 during 2.6-0.9Ma, which documents overall low pCO2 levels (<300ppm) comparable with ice core records, indicatingthat the Earth system has operated under late Pleistocene pCO2 levels for an extended period. The pCO2 levels do not show statistically significant differences across the mid-Pleistocene Transition (ca. 1.2-0.8Ma), suggesting that CO2 isprobably not the driver of this important climate change event.

published proceedings

  • Nat Commun

altmetric score

  • 209.296

author list (cited authors)

  • Da, J., Zhang, Y. G., Li, G., Meng, X., & Ji, J.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Da, Jiawei||Zhang, Yi Ge||Li, Gen||Meng, Xianqiang||Ji, Junfeng

publication date

  • January 2019