Collaborative Proposal: CO2PIP — A Community Project to Advance and Standardize Approaches to Paleo-CO2 Reconstruction and Build the Next-Generation Phanerozoic Record

Lead PI: Dr. Baerbel Hoenisch

Unit Affiliation: Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

August 2021 - July 2024
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: A cross-disciplinary team of researchers will develop a state-of-the-art record of atmospheric CO2 concentrations for the past 400 million years. They will do so by engaging the broader scientific community to revise existing estimates of past CO2 concentrations that were previously made using fossil plant material and minerals that are ‘proxies’ of ancient environmental conditions. The team will also develop a set of numerical models that are capable of simulating the land or ocean environments in which the proxies formed in order to better understand how proxies archive ancient conditions and atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Together these approaches will permit the researchers to build the next-generation record of CO2 concentrations for the last half billion years of Earth history. This record is fundamental to understanding how our planet functions under high and evolving CO2 concentrations. All products of the project (database, software, algorithms) will be broadly disseminated. The project will fund and mentor several students and early career scientists and two planned educational and outreach activities will ensure that the results are accessible to Earth and Environmental Science students and to the public.

The community project CO2PIP (CO2 Proxy Integration Project) will advance the science of paleo-CO2 reconstruction and build a statistically robust multi-proxy atmospheric CO2 record for the Phanerozoic. This will be done through the development of forward proxy system models of the conditions and processes that govern the CO2 signal in commonly used CO2 proxies. The broader scientific community will be engaged to modernize primarily terrestrial-based CO2 proxy records and build a standardized and FAIR paleo-CO2 proxy data repository. Four proxy system models will be statistically integrated with the vetted and modernized proxy data using inversion analysis to produce quantitative, data-driven CO2 reconstructions for individual records and to generate a robust, quantitative reconstruction of paleo-CO2. Digital infrastructure for presenting and archiving the CO2 compilation and community endorsed outputs will ensure full accessibility to the scientific community and public. This research will advance our understanding of proxy sensitivities to individual controls that affect the accuracy and precision of CO2 estimates and improve comparability of paleo-CO2 records, thus refining our understanding of the evolution of paleo-CO2 through the past half billion years of Earth history.