Environmental Monitor

From February 2015 to November 2015 I was a freelance science writing intern for Fondriest Environmental's magazine Environmental Monitor, which covers technological advancements in monitoring systems for air and water quality in oceans, lakes, rivers and streams. Here you will find my entire collection of short briefs and longer form features written for the magazine. 

Oxygen Levels Impacted Past Climate Changes More Than Previously Thought

By Cassie Kelly, June 17, 2015

The amount of oxygen in the atmosphere has played a role in climate changes throughout Earth’s history, according to a study from the University of Michigan. Though oxygen’s impact isn’t as drastic as carbon dioxide or methane, the findings prove that current climate models should be adjusted.

The study used computer simulations of past oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere, which varied from the 21 percent level of today’s atmosphere. They found that a lower oxygen level increased evaporation. The climate responds with rising temperatures and more precipitation. Increased oxygen caused the opposite response.

The researchers say this discovery is important for understanding changes of climates of the distant past that couldn’t be fully explained by carbon dioxide levels, but oxygen levels aren’t playing a significant role in present-day climate change.