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Thread: atmospheric density over time?

  1. #1 atmospheric density over time? 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope sculptor's Avatar
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    I ain't sure if this belongs here or in environmental issues?

    From recent readings, it seems tha O and CO2 were both much higher during much of our paleo climates.
    and here's the question
    Was the atmosphere of previous climates(when O and CO2 concentrations were higher) denser that today, or did the extra O and CO2 displace another atmospheric gas or gasses? (ie. N, Ar, Ne, He, CH4, Kr, H2, etc...)?
    or
    Was the tropopause higher?
    ...................
    (I ain't completely confused, but I am working on it.)


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  3. #2  
    exchemist
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    I ain't sure if this belongs here or in environmental issues?

    From recent readings, it seems tha O and CO2 were both much higher during much of our paleo climates.
    and here's the question
    Was the atmosphere of previous climates(when O and CO2 concentrations were higher) denser that today, or did the extra O and CO2 displace another atmospheric gas or gasses? (ie. N, Ar, Ne, He, CH4, Kr, H2, etc...)?
    or
    Was the tropopause higher?
    ...................
    (I ain't completely confused, but I am working on it.)
    Well I suppose the clue may be in the relative proportions. O₂ today is ~20% and CO₂ is ~400ppm. So CO₂ at least could go up or down a lot compared to its current concentration without affecting the density of the atmosphere materially. I have read that O2 reached as high as about 25% at some point in the Carboniferous, allowing the evolution of giant insects, whose respiratory mechanism could not support such a size at today's level. I suppose 25% does imply a denser atmosphere, given that presumably the amount of N₂ would not have gone down to compensate. But the net change would only be 6.7% more gas in the atmosphere, if it were all O₂, assuming my maths is right.


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