It is stated in https://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/trends/co2/ice_core_co2.html that the temporal uncertainty for the glacier $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ records is less than $\small\mathsf{5~\%}$ at any given moment. That means ‒ for example ‒ ca. $\small\mathsf{5,\!000}$ years at $\small\mathsf{100,\!000}$ years ago. Could there have been peaks in the $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ record that rose and fell back so quickly we wouldn't be able to detect them? Is there some paper or perhaps a monography that lists all the possible events in Earth's history that could have occurred in the last $\small\mathsf{800,\!000}$ or more years, which would lead to a likewise fast $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ increase as today's, but also showing that, on the other hand, any such events would leave a long-lasting trace in the $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ that should be easily detectable in the record?

I've found out that part of the answer is already in answers to this question.

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    $\begingroup$ It's not clear what the remaining part of your question is. Could you edit it? The resolution of the record is annual layers. I think the "temporal uncertainty" refers to the cumulative uncertainty due to disturbed/missing sections of the core. $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2019 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ I believe Degauss is asking about the detectability of hypothetical short-lasting peak in the CO₂ record. I don't know if such peaks (rising and falling very quickly) are physical, but the question of detectability is a valid one. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 8, 2019 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Degauss, welcome to the site. We were not entirely sure what you meant. I have edited your question for clarification, please edit it again if this was not was you intended. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Nov 8, 2019 at 9:29
  • $\begingroup$ You had edited it so well I didn't spot the difference at first. :D First I thought it would be too dumb to ask for peaks that were just "quick" but I admit that now it is more readable. $\endgroup$
    – Degauss
    Nov 8, 2019 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


$\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ does not fall back quickly:

graph shows the IPCC 2007 $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ liftime from a computer model run that shows what happens to a single instantaneous pulse of $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ emitted to the atmosphere. One thousand years after the $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ is emitted to the atmosphere 20% is still there according to this model.
only zero carbon enter image description here

The decline shown is mostly due to $\small\mathsf{CO_2}$ dissolving in the oceans.


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