National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2015

Climate and climate change: Carbon dioxide

Sabine, C.L., and R.A. Feely

In Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences, Second Edition, North, G.R., J. Pyle, and F. Zhang (eds.), Academic Press, 10–17 (2014)

Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in the Earth's life cycle and in controlling the global climate. It is a greenhouse gas that makes life on Earth possible, but mankind is currently in the process of altering the global carbon cycle through land use practices and burning of fossil fuels. This article looks at the history of atmospheric CO2 from the geological past, through the industrial era, and considers possible changes in the future. It looks at the relevant controls on atmospheric CO2 in the atmosphere, terrestrial biosphere, and in the ocean on timescales of years to centuries.

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