Ozone Abundance In A Nitrogen-Carbon Dioxide Dominated Terrestrial Paleoatmosphere

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Thomas, Brian C., Melott, Adrian L., Martin, Larry D., and Jackman, Charles H.
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We compute the ozone distribution for a model terrestrial paleoatmosphere in which the present oxygen abundance is largely replaced by carbon dioxide, which we argue is a reasonable working assumption. In principle, the presence of carbon dioxide might supplement the ozone shield as compared with models based on nitrogen without hig carbon dioxide abundance so that early life need not have been as UV-resistant as often assumed. An extrasolar planet with a high-CO2 atmosphere might contain enough O2 to be a source of false positive biomarkers. We find that the globally averaged O2 column density can be the same, or nearly four times higher (depending upon the O2 partial pressure) when CO2 is used in place of N2 as the replacement component for lowered O2 in a 1-atm terrestrial planet with solar radiation. The effect is important for making quantitative deductions from future data, but does not invalidate the use of O3 as a biomarker for free oxygen. These results make prospects for detection of extrasolar planetary O3 absorptioin somewhat better than before.