CURRENT models for the evolution of the Sun require an increase in solar luminosity by 25% since the formation of the Solar System1. Such an increase in the solar constant should have profound effects on the terrestrial climate, but there is no evidence from the fossil record of a corresponding change in the Earth's global mean temperature2. This apparent conflict cannot be explained by the apparent inability of solar models to account for the low observed neutrino flux3. Even models that are forced to fit the neutrino data require a similar increase in the solar luminosity. As Newman and Rood1 state: “a faint young Sun is one of the most unavoidable consequences of stellar structure considerations”. We discuss here whether CO2–H2O in a weakly reducing atmosphere could have caused this change in the early Earth's temperature by the so-called greenhouse effect.
Your institute does not have access to this article
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Newman, M. J. & Rood, R. T. Science 198, 1035 (1977).
Knauth, L. P. & Epstein, S. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 40, 1095 (1976).
Davis, R. & Evans, J. M. Bull. Am. phys. Soc. 21, 683 (1976).
Sagan, C. & Mullen, G. Science 177, 52 (1972).
Hart, M. H. Icarus 33, 23 (1978).
Walker, J. C. G. in The Early History of the Earth (ed. Windley, B. F.) 535 (Wiley, New York 1976).
Anders, E. & Owen, T. Science 198, 453 (1977).
Pagel, B. E. J. Proc. 2nd Symp. on the Origin and Distribution of the Elements (Int. Ass. Geochem. and Cosmochem., Paris/UNESCO, in the press).
Kuhn, W. R. & S. K., Atreya, Icarus (in the press).
Eugster, H. P. in The Encyclopaedia of Geochemistry and Environmental Sciences; (ed. Fairbridge, R. W.) 29 (Van Nostrand, New York, 1972).
Neukum, G. & Wise, D. U. Science 194, 1381 (1976).
Miller, S. L. & Orgel, L. E. The Origins of Life on the Earth (Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1974).
Abelson, P. H. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 55, 1365 (1966).
Augustsson, T. & Ramanathan, V., J. atmos. Sci. 34, 448 (1977).
S. H. Schneider, J. atmos. Sci. 32, 2060 (1975).
J. O. Roads, J. atmos. Sci. 35, 753 (1978).
R. D. Cess, J. atmos. Sci. 33, 1831 (1976).
M. I. Budyko, Climate and Life (Academic, New York, 1974).
Lian, M. S. & Cess, R. D. J. atmos. Sci. 34, 1058 (1977).
Wetherald, R. T. & Manabe, S. J. atmos. Sci. 32, 2044 (1975).
Hutchinson, G. E. in The Earth as a Planet (ed. Kuiper, G. P.) (University of Chicago Press, 1954).
J. E., Lovelock & Margulis, L. Tellus 26, 2 (1974).
About this article
Cite this article
OWEN, T., CESS, R. & RAMANATHAN, V. Enhanced CO2 greenhouse to compensate for reduced solar luminosity on early Earth. Nature 277, 640–642 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/277640a0
Nature Geoscience (2021)
Space Science Reviews (2020)
Nature Geoscience (2018)
Quality & Quantity (2017)
Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres (2016)